Unlock the Power of Communication: Foreign Language as a Pathway to Impactful Careers
Studying a foreign language is a fantastic opportunity to explore the cultures of the world. Not only do you gain a valuable and tangible skill, but you are then able to engage with the art, literature, and media of the cultures that speak that language. Whether you’re learning Spanish, French, Arabic, or any other language, you will find foreign language to be an impactful and fulfilling field of study.
Here’s a closer look at why foreign language studies are important, the careers you can pursue in the field, and how you can set yourself up for success in college and beyond.
The Importance of Foreign Language
Foreign language is a critical field that fosters global understanding and cultural competence. In an increasingly interconnected world, proficiency in foreign languages equips individuals with the capability to communicate across borders and engage with diverse cultures effectively. It also stimulates the development of empathy and a broader perspective on world affairs.
From a career standpoint, foreign language expertise is a highly valuable asset that can expand job prospects and facilitate international business and cooperation. Professionals who are proficient in multiple languages are often more attractive to global corporations, diplomatic services, non-profit organizations, and many other sectors.
With the continued advancement of technology and globalization, this importance is only set to increase. Being able to understand and communicate in different languages will be a fundamental skill for navigating the future. Read on to see how you can pursue a future in foreign language. Or, donate today to help support student achievement in foreign language and beyond.
How to Get Started in the Foreign Language Field
If you’re considering an academic future in foreign language, it’s a good idea to start identifying the language(s) you would like to study and work with. This can be a language that is high in demand, or one that is personally interesting or important to you. Start taking classes in that language if they are available at your high school. Engaging with the language in a structured setting will provide a solid foundation for future study, and will help you get a taste for foreign language learning.
Preparation goes beyond the classroom, too. You can engage with the language of your choice by immersing yourself in it. Try watching films, listening to music, and reading books or newspapers in your target language. This can enhance your understanding of not just the language, but the culture as well. You should also consider joining or starting a language club at your school, or participating in language immersion camps or language learning programs over the summer.
Careers in Foreign Languages
One of the great benefits of a degree in a foreign language is its flexibility. Because communication is integral to so many careers, knowledge of a foreign language easily integrates into a number of skill sets. However, there are a few careers tailored specifically to foreign languages. These include:
- Interpreter/Translator: Interpreters serve as a go-between for individuals who do not speak the same language. Similarly, translators assess written works and translate between two or more languages. This career is in high demand, with 20% expected growth over the next decade.
- Teacher: Foreign language competency is a crucial skill that is often taught in schools and universities. Therefore, there will always be a demand for teachers of foreign languages. Demand will vary depending on where you teach and the popularity of the language, but high schools and colleges will be in need of your services.
- Diplomat: To engage with other countries, you must speak their language. Diplomats work in many levels of United States policy interactions with foreign countries, and having foreign language skills is often necessary for their work. Federal government employment also tends to be a stable line of work. Additionally, It’s important for students of color to develop futures in government and international relations, as diversity is an urgent need in those areas.
While these and related careers offer exciting variety, one thing they all have in common is they require a quality education. If you’re interested in a major or career in a foreign language, reach out to UNCF to discover how we can help.
After the Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action, diversity is more crucial than ever in these careers, in the broader field of foreign language, and in the workforce of the future. Click here to donate to UNCF to support our vital work and the future of American students.
Want to learn more about this possible career path and college major? Have questions about which UNCF colleges and universities offer degrees in foreign languages? Looking for help with financing this degree?
How to Prepare for Success
Success in foreign language requires you to be familiar with the fundamentals of language, including grammar, vocabulary, and syntax. Knowledge of other cultures will be helpful as well. Finally, maintaining a consistent study routine, staying motivated, and seeking help when needed — either from professors or language tutors — will support continued progress.
Remember, language acquisition is a gradual process that requires patience, persistence, and a willingness to embrace new cultures and perspectives.
UNCF Schools to Consider
Ten UNCF-member schools offer programs for students wishing to study a foreign language, including:
- Claflin University
- Clark Atlanta University
- Fisk University
- Johnson C. Smith University
- Morehouse College
- Oakwood University
- Rust College
- Spelman College
- Wiley University
- Xavier University of Louisiana
There are many organizations in various foreign languages that advocate and promote language skills and their professions. A sample list includes:
- American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages
- Ohio Foreign Language Association
- World Language Professionals
In addition, there are organizations that advocate for specific languages including:
- American Association of Teachers of German
- American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese
- Chinese Language Teachers Association, USA
There’s no better way to start on your path to a successful career in foreign language than with a solid financial foundation. Fortunately, many scholarships are available through UNCF, including some specifically for foreign language majors. Keep an eye on the UNCF website for current scholarship opportunities and announcements.
Search for specific scholarships and view those that are currently accepting applications here! Students should also check with each college or university to see if there are additional scholarships available to study foreign language.
As you explore your options, be sure to use our guide to applying for scholarships and grants. You can also receive guidance by submitting a major interest form if you are interested in a career in foreign language. Submit the form on our website to get started. And follow us on UNCF social media channels to receive notifications about our scholarships and member HBCUs. Reach out today!
You can also show your support for students pursuing careers and furthering equity in foreign language by making a contribution to UNCF member schools. Education is the greatest tool we have in creating a just and equitable society in which economic mobility is available to all. Help us achieve this future by donating today!