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My Opinion on Majoring in Foreign Languages

December 15, 2013

I decided to do write up this blog post after talking with some friends and meeting some fellow foreign language majors yesterday. And if you’re reading this or every studied a foreign language, you probably considered a language degree yourself.

After taking two more classes during this upcoming semester, I will have completed all requirements for my foreign language degree. And during the time I have taken all those courses (Japanese, Chinese, etc), I can proudly say I feel like I learn more by self-studying. For me, the only benefits of having those classes was being able to practice speaking for a few hours a week. I still do not speak enough Japanese/Chinese to consider myself advanced, so I feel like the degree is really misleading.

If you do major in a foreign language, please make sure it is not your main degree. For example, I am doing a program at my uni that allows me to get an MBA with my bachelors degree – which is why I chose to major in foreign languages in the first place. I felt that if I did major in languages, I had to make it lucrative.

The way I see it, if you want to become a translator or anything language related for that matter, getting certified through tests like the JLPT and TOPIK would be much more useful since you can focus on other skills while in college. They’re especially more useful if you want to have something to officially gauge your language skills. Most of my friends that I met who are Japanese translators don’t have a foreign language degree, in fact, they haven’t even finished school yet.

Here’s a little pro and cons list based on my personal experience:

Pros: Cons:
  • Get to major in something you’re interested in
  • Great “stepping stone” degree for dual degree programs
  • More opportunities to study abroad
  • Easier course load than most majors such as Chemistry
  • Great for us lazy people who sometimes need a push to study language
  • Easier option for dual degrees
  • Not a true indicator of your language skill
  • Because it is not a true indicator, satisfying a job position that requires almost native fluency will be nearly impossible.
  • Miss out on other degrees that can provide to be more useful to your life
  • Not exactly the best way to master a language
  • Limits your time to self-study at home
  • May lose interest in target language
  • Job prospects are on the lower side

So I guess what I am trying to say is, go ahead and major in languages… but make sure you do it in a smart way. If you do like learning a certain language, why not make it a minor or dual major? But it is also important to follow your  … so only you know what’s best for you.

Have any of you majored in a language? What are you thoughts/experiences with majoring in foreign languages? I’d love to hear 😀

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