In "Letters to Kerstin", I share the emails and messages that I have received from language learners around the world. Today, there's a burning question from blog reader Isabella. I am practically jealous of her amazing dreams and enthusiasm - Isabella, you'll go far and I love that you are pursuing your passion. Here are my tips.
Opening A Door to The Whole World
I am a 21 year old American college student. I am thinking of changing my major from liberal arts to languages. I have been interested in doing something with language for a long time. The trouble is, I have looked at schools abroad over the internet and I don't know what to look for or which ones to choose, it is a little overwhelming. Also, since I am in school I can not exactly fly over there any time soon to check the place out. Right now I am thinking the school that I am at is not the best place for me and I should do something I am very interested in.
I love the French language and culture and I want to be fluent in French. My aunt wants to take me to Paris someday. I think I should go to Paris before I go to a language school to get acquainted with the French culture more. But I also want to learn more languages-not just French. I want to learn Japanese, Swedish, Russian, Vietnamese, and German. Do you have any suggestions for great language schools that offer a wide variety of languages and are possibly in France or Belgium (a french speaking country?) Also, are there any other things/activities that one can do with a language other than a language school to become fluent that you suggest?
Thank you so much for helping me! Isabella
Thank you very much for your email. So you’re living in the USA and you’re excited about switching your major to languages. I understand that switching can be a daunting thing. Often we want to think of our education as a qualification and investment for professional life and worry that graduating in “language” is too vague to ever get us a job. But I can assure you, languages really do open many doors! Switching to French if you already have the passion for it is one of the best things you can ever do — you will build up skills that take other people years to acquire, and you’ll open up not just job opportunities in the language professions, but also an international side to your career that lasts forever. Languages make you a pretty sexy job candidate. They’re also a great boost for transferable skills.
In terms of recommending a specific school, I think that’s a tricky one. The education systems of Europe and the USA are still far from homogenous, so that it can be easier to switch to Europe for postgraduate education, like a Masters. One school that I am aware of is ISTI in Brussels, but don't forget that there are hundreds more I probably have never heard of!
You want to learn other languages and not just French, and there is no reason why a focus on one language should stop you from acquiring others. There are many things you can do to become fluent, and ultimately the key is in setting realistic goals, staying excited and committed and making sure you’re in this for life. Every language you acquire will open the door to an amazing new world. For French alone, just think of the African continent, Canada, France, Belgium and the Caribbean!
To sum up my advice to you, I’d say “Say YES to travelling and languages” especially at the age of 21. You’ve got nothing at all to lose and the whole world to gain.
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