Thursday, November 29, 2012

Why Learn a Foreign Language?

The Department of History and Political Science is the only Department at AU (outside the Foreign Language Department, of course) that requires its majors to study a foreign language. There are many reasons for this requirement, but here are some of them:    

  1. It’s just better to know a second language.
  2. It’s a job skill: employers recognize – and often reward – competence in a second language.
  3. Language study is good exercise for your memory.
  4. With a second language you will be able to converse with Dr. Paddags in a language other than English.
  5. It’s useful when travelling.
  6. An eminent scholar once told a class I was taking, “You can’t be a competent student of political philosophy unless you know Greek.”
  7. You will be able to read what was actually written in foreign books and historical sources, not something filtered by a translator.
  8. Language study can help you to separate ideas from the words in which they are expressed (which helps you think more clearly).
  9. Emulate the American Founders, many of whom knew French, Latin, and often Greek
  10. Learn that the pluperfect subjunctive passive is a real thing.
  11. Studying the grammar of a foreign language may improve your logic (which helps you think more clearly) and your English, both written and spoken.   
  12. Foreign language study helps you understand the categories of your own thinking (which, again, helps you think more clearly). 

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