At University of Reading Visit Days, the Department of Modern Languages and European Studies invites all our visiting students to submit entries for a Blog Post Competition. This year’s topic was “Why study languages?”
The winning entry came from Max Davies. Here’s what he wrote:
Why study languages? A better question would be “why wouldn’t I want to study modern languages at university?”
Coming from a German background and having been brought up more-or-less bilingual, I have always found it strange that mainland Europeans have made such an effort to learn foreign languages. Here in Britain we offer a stark contrast as studying modern languages is widely considered to be unnecessary or too difficult and is thus abandoned by secondary school students as soon as possible. I never realised that this would lead to my friends asking me why I was capitalising nouns in my German essay or why I pronounce Cologne weirdly (because it’s pronounced “Köln”, whether you like it or not).
This is what drove me to appreciate just how enlightening languages can be. By learning how to speak in another tongue you develop an understanding of an entirely new world. While others are content living in their native country, those who study modern languages could quite comfortably live in two or three! One of my most driving motivations has to be the pursuit of this lifestyle; to reach the calibre of a person able to adapt to almost any culture. Of the people in my life, the most interesting and (on my part) idolised have been the individuals who have travelled and picked up new language along the way. I see being able to speak a foreign language as a sign of strong character, intelligence and broad horizons.
However, my motivations are not simply a romanticised dream. I understand that UK employers and the global job market see modern languages as a valuable transferable skill which reliably makes hardworking, determined employees. When I was 14 I travelled to Germany by myself and worked in a graphic design studio as part of my work experience. My view at the time was that it would
show I was an adaptable worker who was confident in his language abilities. I can safely say that this view hasn’t changed and I now wish to study modern languages at university to make me stand out in Britain’s current job market. I thoroughly enjoyed my time working abroad as it allowed me to forget my native culture and embrace that of a new and vibrant nation. Everything, from the 20 minute commute to conversing with customers, felt natural and sparked a surprisingly strong feeling of wanting to stay just a few more weeks.
Ultimately, it is my ambition to study modern languages at university as I believe it will enhance almost every aspect of my life. I see mastering a foreign language as a key to innumerable new walks of life and may offer inspiration to others to study languages as well. After all, why wouldn’t they want to study modern languages?
We agree! Why wouldn’t you want to study in the Department of Modern Languages and European Studies at the University of Reading?
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