Department of Modern Languages and Literatures
In an increasingly interconnected world, knowledge of another language can facilitate business and social transactions and provide knowledge crucial for success in a multicultural environment. This lesson is not new for Americans, although it has often been ignored. It is said that BenjaminFranklin’s success in securing French support for the American colonies, support that was crucial in the War for Independence, can in large part be attributed to his knowledge of French language and culture. An increasing number of jobs today require an understanding and knowledge of other cultures. In a world of business such experience may not be sufficient in and of itself, but combined with another subject area or concentration it frequently puts job candidates at a distinct advantage.
Students with language backgrounds often go on to jobs of extraordinary interest and variety. But the advantages of language training are also clear in ways that may be less evident. In an era in which undergraduate training may tend towards the pre-professional, the professional schools themselves (particularly law and medicine) have looked upon language acquisition as an indication of a student’s ability to think analytically and systematically to acquire a large body of information. In short, work in the languages, far from closing out options, keeps those options open.