Why Study a Language?

FAQ on Less Commonly Taught Languages (LCTL)


What do I stand to gain from studying a LCTL?

Personal development.  Americans have so much privilege in the world; experiencing a language class can provide one with a better understanding of what it would be like to not speak a dominant language.  The process of learning a language builds character and is an important aspect of personal development.  It will humble you and get you out of your comfort zone which is very important for success in all aspects of life. 

Marketable Experience. In times of economic uncertainly and higher than average unemployment, what could set a recent graduate apart like having knowledge of a strategically important Less Commonly Taught Language? Not only will you stand out for most jobs you are considering, you also may be eligible for other positions which require knowledge of a LCTL.

What will I learn about human experience in the age of globalization?

You will become more understanding of the immigrant experience.  If you have a parent or grandparents who spoke a language other than English as their Mother tongue, studying that language could be a rewarding path for you as well.

You will have a key insight into global cultures.  Language is an indispensable part of culture, and knowing a particular culture’s language will give you a definite advantage when it comes to understanding and empathizing with people from around the world.

How will a LCTL improve my academic standing?

Studying a language leads to better area knowledge, so you will know about the part of the world where the language is spoken.  Language study has to come with area and cultural knowledge so that the student acquires an understanding of the contextual meanings of words.  You need to understand the historical, geographical, and social information of an area in order to arrive at the full meaning of the texts you are reading. 

Furthermore, language study is highly sought for the University's Intercultural Competence certificate, which rewards commitment to global education.

If you plan to go to graduate school, research languages will be critical for up-to-date scholarship – knowledge is generated everywhere in the world, in every language. 

How will a LCTL improve my career development?

When potential employers see a foreign language on your resume they will see you as a more valuable candidate.  It gives you an edge over other candidates with equal skills but no foreign language abilities. Likewise, international experience abroad - such as what you might choose to obtain through summer intensive language programs abroad - give you a level of competitiveness that you couldn't achieve otherwise. 

What are the practical benefits of studying a LCTL?

It is important for your experience abroad. You will have an easier time making yourself understood, even with very little knowledge of the language, if you arrive in a country with some ability to speak with the locals in their own tongue.  The unspoken message is that you respect the culture and you do not assume that because you are from a powerful country everyone must accommodate your language needs.  This, along with cultural sensitivity will allow you to be much more successful in any projects in foreign countries, and will make the experience much more profound. 

What if I put in the time, but do not end up fluent? 

Your ability will not go to waste. 

  • It is likely you will retain a reading ability, which can be very useful in research or if you get a chance to visit the area. 
  • You will find your speaking ability develops quickly when you are immersed in the culture which speaks the language you studied or are studying. 
  • The Language study is still appropriate to put on a resume.
  • You can eventually go back to studying it and you will benefit from what you learned before. 
  • Every time you study a new language it becomes easier.

What resources are there at The Ohio State University?

Each of the area studies centers at OSU can connect you to news and information about the languages predominantly spoken in their world areas.  The MESC language information page is here.  We also offer the Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship (FLAS), which can help fund your studies, among other internationally-oriented grants at OSU.  Please also check out Hagerty Hall, and the resources there, such as The Crane Cafe, the Foreign Language Center, and the Global Gallery