Language courses have been part of high school and some college curricula for decades, but they’ve never been more valuable in the job market. Fluency in multiple languages is a highly sought skill for job candidates across a variety of careers, including government positions, nursing, teaching, finance, and more.
Learning a new language can certainly help your career, but there’s a lot more to gain from becoming multilingual. Discover the benefits of learning a new language and the unique advantages of taking online college language courses.
Why Take Language Courses?
In an increasingly globalized business world, learning a second language is a valuable skill that could impress employers, but there are additional benefits just for you.
Learning a new language can help your gray matter grow, which is the information processing center of your brain. As you take in the complexities of a new language, your brain has to adapt and develop. Just like a muscle, your brain gets stronger and more capable as you challenge it.
In addition to helping your brain now, acquiring new language skills help to delay cognitive decline and mental aging. According to neurological research, multilingual adults experience the first signs of dementia at a later age than their monolingual counterparts.
As mentioned, challenging your brain to learn new skills keeps it sharp and agile. Learning a new language often pushes your brain in different ways as you familiarize yourself with new grammar and vocabulary rules. You not only have to remember new words, you have to connect them with real-world concepts and use them contextually, improving your memory in the process.
Better Mental Agility
Mental agility is an important skill to have in the workforce and in life. Multilingual people have the ability to switch back and forth between languages naturally and automatically, including thinking in different languages and translating on the spot, which helps with multitasking.
Potential to Widen Prospective Job Market
More and more US-based businesses are expanding into international markets to reach new customer bases. With that, companies need bilingual candidates to not only translate but ensure that the context is appropriate. When you become fluent in a second language, you may widen your prospective job market and become a more desirable candidate for top positions.
Better Communication Skills
Written and verbal communication skills are among the top skills employers look for in job candidates. While it may be surprising, learning a second language can improve your communication in English.
We learn our native language more organically, often without diving deep into the grammar and style rules. As you learn a foreign language and navigate the grammar, vocabulary, and sentence structure, it will make you more conscious of the rules that govern your native language.
Improved Empathy and Cultural Sensitivity
Becoming fluent in a new language not only provides the means to connect with other cultures verbally, but it can develop culture awareness. As you learn a new language, you’re not just learning words but a new way of thinking. Along with that, you may understand and appreciate the differences in cultures, and more importantly, the similarities that we all share as human beings.
Making mistakes is part of the learning process with language learning. Even if you have an ear for language, you will be pushed out of your comfort zone and into new situations. Though you may be nervous at first, breaking out of your shell will develop your self-confidence and equip you to tackle new situations in other areas of your life.
Colleges and universities often require foreign language as part of the core subjects for applicants. If high school students didn’t take a foreign language, they may have to take them as gen ed requirements for their degree.
The requirements for a foreign language can vary by institution, but many require at least two years of a single foreign language that count toward your gen ed requirements. The idea behind this requirement is that it will expand your worldview and improve your career options, in addition to providing a well-rounded education.
Benefits of Taking Language Courses Online
Learning a language has benefits on its own, but taking language courses online offers unique advantages that you may not get in a cohort learning environment.
1. Flexible Learning
Whether you’re trying to get some electives out of the way or you’re an adult learner managing a full-time job and other responsibilities, online courses offer flexible learning that adapts to your schedule – not the other way around. You can attend lectures and complete assignments from anywhere, at any time, to ensure that you’re fully focused on what you need to learn. All you need is an internet connection and device.
2. Multimedia Environments
Learning a language is a bit different than learning other subjects. Interactive tools like grammar correction, automation, discussion boards, videos, and audio guides can make a huge difference in how well you grasp the language and retain the concepts. Online learning utilizes more of these tools to enhance your learning experience.
3. Repetition Learning
Repetition is essential to mastering a foreign language. Traditional class environments don’t offer the opportunity to repeat lessons and work on concepts without disrupting the instructor and other students. With online courses – particularly self-paced courses – you may able to repeat course modules as often as you need to ensure you have a solid understanding before moving forward.
4. Practicing in the Comfort of Your Own Home
One of the challenges of learning a new language is feeling comfortable practicing, especially in front of other people. By combining flexible schedules and multimedia tools, taking a language course online gives you the ability to practice on your own until you get it right.
5. Learning from Native Speakers
Taking online language courses for college credit could allow you to learn from native speakers, no matter where you are. You can access some of the “best of the best” language teachers from all over the world, since you can take language courses from anywhere instead of relying only on who’s available in your region.
6. Better Academic Skills
Some people are naturally gifted at school, often excelling at test taking and written assignments. But earning a good grade doesn’t necessarily mean you’re gaining practical skills or retaining the information. With language learning, the process continually tests your knowledge and pushes you to develop a new skill beyond intellectual understanding, which is an ability that carries over into other courses and subject areas.
Online Language Learning at Sophia
Whether you’re interested in taking a foreign language for your career prospects or you’re simply learning a new skill, Sophia offers self-paced online language courses to help you reach your goals. Check out our language courses designed to transfer at Sophia!