Learning a new language in college: An interest or a chore?

As part of graduation requirements at West Texas A&M University, a student is to take certain core courses which sometimes include foreign languages. Some students take a foreign language out of obligation. For others, it is a genuine interest to be bilingual.

Jeanine Fabbri is a sophomore broadcast journalism major whose interest in learning French was born out of wanting to communicate better with her dad’s family.

“Since I took Spanish in high school, I became bilingual because my mom speaks Spanish to me, so I had to learn Spanish with her,” Fabbri said. “I wanted to learn a different language to be able to speak to my family on my dad’s side.”

According to World Economic Forum, only 20 percent of students in the U.S. learn another language aside from English. Countries in Europe, on the other hand, have a higher percentage of students who study a foreign language: 92 percent.

Audrey Pleming is a junior English major who initially began learning French as a core class. Pleming later fell in love with the language and decided to pursue it further.

“I was just interested in the language because I’ve always felt that it’s really cool,” Pleming said.

Some advantages of learning a foreign language include improved problem-solving skills, boosted confidence, connection with other cultures, career advancement and a smarter brain.

Just like learning anything from scratch, adopting a new language is not a walk in the park.

“Definitely the language barrier, and I think it is really interesting because I feel like I am pretty good at memorizing things and vocabulary,” Pleming said. “But English as my first language it just feels so natural to speak,unlike French, especially since I’m still learning.”

If you are interested in learning foreign languages, WT’s Department of English, Philosophy, and Modern Languages has more information here.


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