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What Can I Do With a Foreign Language Degree?

Earning a foreign language degree holds more career opportunities today than ever before. For many years, during the cold war, some languages were studied mostly for military or intelligence applications. Those needs still exist, although more so today for Middle Eastern languages. The continuing expansion of global businesses creates a constant need for employees fluent in one or more foreign languages. Those who have a love and aptitude for languages may wish to use their skills to teach others who seek to learn a foreign language, including students overseas who want to learn English. A foreign language degree is one of the most versatile degrees offered.

Government agencies like the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the National Security Agency (NSA), and the military have always had a need for linguists. During times of war, intercepting and interpreting enemy communications is an essential part of any combat strategy. Native speakers are usually sought, but when they’re not available, the government turns to those who have studied and, ideally, received degrees in a foreign language.

Immediately following World War II, and through the ensuing Cold War, Russian and German were the languages most needed by the government. The fall of the Iron Curtain lessened that need, but didn’t do away with it completely. Today, Middle Eastern languages like Arabic and Farsi are the most desired languages for government applications. A degree in one of these languages is a big plus when seeking employment with government intelligence agencies like the CIA or the NSA.

The fall of the Iron Curtain also opened a large portion of the world to new business opportunities. The Cold War took a toll on the infrastructures of the former Soviet Union, its former republics, and the former East Germany.

Many businesses began working with those countries to improve living conditions, strengthen economies, and bring their societies into the modern era. The only way a company from the United States, Great Britain, or any other country can assist former Soviet bloc countries is by hiring employees who speak German, or one or more Slavic languages. These languages are some of the more difficult to learn, a degree in any one of them gives prospective employees a definite edge.

The increased need for foreign language degrees has also increased the need for foreign language instructors. Many universities have had to expand their foreign language degree programs, and have even added languages to the curriculum that weren’t taught before. Colleges need degreed professors to teach those language courses to maintain their accreditation in those areas of instruction.

In addition, language schools like Berlitz always have a need for educated language instructors. A foreign language degree also makes it easier to teach English either to foreign students in the United States, or in one of the hundreds of schools overseas that offer English as a foreign language. Knowing the language of the country where the school is located not only assists in communicating with the students, but helps the instructors acclimate to their temporary homes.

A foreign language degree offers numerous benefits, not only to the degree seeker, but to those countries, businesses and students who stand to gain from it as well.

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