Foreign Language and International Experience Can Increase Employment Options

by Susan Sullivan | Mar 29, 2017

Want to impress potential employers? Consider a foreign language major or adding a language minor to your plan of study and take advantage of study-abroad opportunities, recommends Dr. Wendy Westphal, chair of the Department of Languages and Cultures at Marian University.

Marian University students study abroad

  • According to the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, fewer than ten percent of Americans speak a second language and just eight percent of college students study a second language.
  • Reversing the language gap is increasingly important to employers in a global economy where a huge percentage of the world's consumers live outside the United States.

A growing number of employers want to hire bilingual employees, including municipal, state, and federal agencies like the military, intelligence, and law enforcement communities. Fortune 500 companies, healthcare organizations, and educational institutions are also among those who also seek employees fluent in a second language.

The number of American college students who have traveled abroad has more than tripled in the past two decades and the increase is likely to continue.

Study-abroad experiences are a good way for students to strengthen their knowledge of global communities, Westphal suggests. "Exploring a new culture is a great way to immerse yourself in a foreign language, acquire new skills, expand your worldview, and make yourself more marketable."

  • The Institute for International Education of Students reports that 75 percent of students who study overseas say the experience helped them acquire skill sets that influenced their career path.
  • Employees who are fluent in a foreign language are valuable in the workplace and can receive additional compensation for their knowledge. According to The Economist, the amount of additional earnings varies depending on supply and demand, but in 2014 the additional earnings averaged 1.5 percent for Spanish, 2.3 percent for French, and 3.8 percent for German. 

At Marian University, students can minor in FrenchGerman, and Spanish and major in Spanish. Study-abroad offerings from which students can choose include:

Students can apply for study-abroad funds and financial aid, including the McKinney International Travel Grant made possible thanks to generous support from Indianapolis philanthropist Robert H. McKinney.

Financial aid in amounts ranging from $500 to $6,500 are available. Additional funding sources include the United States-Japan Bridging Foundation ScholarshipGerman Academic Exchange Service, the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, and the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, among others.

Westphal says Marian University students have studied abroad in Germany, Japan, Spain, India, the UK, Ireland, Austria, China, Greece, Italy, France, Canada, Portugal, and a number of Latin and South American countries, including Brazil, Guatemala, and Mexico.

For more information about earning a foreign language degree, or study-abroad opportunities for Marian University students, email or call 317.955.6026.

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Brad R. Wucher
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(317) 955-6307
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