With all the results that are coming out this week and last week, namely GCSE and A-Level results, I thought it was time for a blog highlighting the benefits of taking a foreign language subject when choosing further study either at school or college.

Many students and parents believe that languages aren’t really relevant in a world where English is so widely spoken. This is totally wrong! We live in an increasingly multicultural society where language is used in so many different situations, whether at work, on holiday, or just casually in day to day life. Ignorance is not a good look! And us Brits are one of the most renowned nations for being uninterested in learning languages. The translation services industry is only going to grow due to overseas expansion and the need to target international audiences. This is just one of the reasons that shows the importance of taking up a foreign language, before your career begins.

The advantages of being able to communicate in a foreign language are endless. Foreign language knowledge brings an expanded awareness of the world around you. Not only do you learn the language of the country of interest, but you learn about their customs and traditions as well, thus making you culturally aware and preparing you for your future, whether it be travelling, working abroad, dealing with international clients, or whatever takes your fancy in your future career, culture shock will not be such an issue. Choosing a foreign language as a 6th form subject will offer you a range of career possibilities, not restrict you. After all, what 16 year old is really sure about their career path? Studying a foreign language at A-level will offer you a broad range of skills and knowledge like no other subject, without mentioning the fun you will have and all those trips abroad with your mates!

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Universities absolutely LOVE recruiting students with a foreign language, even if they are not choosing a languages degree. It is an added extra to their students’ abilities and may improve contact between multinational students.

Learning a language is varied and fun. The process doesn’t stop once you are able to communicate, as languages change, new words evolve and older words are binned. To be able to do a language at A-level, it is best to aim for at least a grade C at GCSE, although entry requirements differ between schools and colleges.

Why did I choose to study a foreign language?

For A-level I studied Spanish, along with other non language related subjects. At GCSE grade was actually better for French, however, I holidayed in Spain and my grandparent had a villa there. I also felt that it would be more useful to me in the future as I planned to live in Spain at some point and travel around South America, not to mention the fact that I preferred my Spanish teacher! Because my parents worked internationally, I was very aware of the benefits of being able to speak a foreign language.

What can I do with my foreign language skills?

Career wise, having a language on top of your professional qualifications increases your job opportunities and your demand for higher earnings. Your salary can increase from 8 to 20% and gives you a head start on other potential employees, as by speaking another language you’re vital to any company who does international business. Although language knowledge can offer you a range of career opportunities, here is a list of related industries where language qualifications can take you:

  • Translation / Interpreting
  • Education
  • Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL)
  • Language Analyst
  • Tourism & Leisure
  • International Organisations e.g. UN and EU institutions
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Languages are the key to the new, exciting multinational world we live in; so don’t miss out!