Communication is an essential part of everyday life. Expanding our ability to communicate beyond our first language helps us in a variety of ways, whether we are planning to travel abroad, connect with friends from around the world, pursue a career that involves international clients or gain a clearer understanding of the people in our own neighborhoods. I can say from personal experience it is definitely worth the time to learn languages outside of your own.

As someone who has been studying languages for about six years, this is a subject I’m passionate about, and I want to share a bit about the benefits of being multilingual. For added perspective, I asked for additional input from Cornerstone professor Brian Pickerd, an adjunct faculty member for our TESOL program as well as for French and German courses. He has had many incredible experiences of his own when it comes to traveling abroad and learning to communicate outside his native culture.

“Every single experience has been transformative,” said Pickerd. “My excitement was growing and that drove my language interest to grow as well.”

Gaining Experience In Community

Let’s start off by tackling the most basic question: Why should you study a foreign language at all? Besides the fact that it is very fun, it also provides opportunities for a lot of growth both personally and socially. No matter the language you’re learning, navigating communication barriers promotes a sense of humility. By studying in a class, you will likely find yourself among peers who are facing the same challenges as you.

This semester, I had a French class where we took a break from traditional classroom lessons and spent time sharing some of our personal growth experiences. If you’re familiar with Cornerstone at all, you might have heard about the incredible community we have here on campus, and this was definitely a perfect example of it. By the end of the session, the entire French class admitted how close we felt after sharing the challenges we faced in learning and how we have overcome them together. It was a truly amazing experience and one I will not soon forget.

Language And Your Future

A knowledge of multiple languages also expands your horizon for jobs. Careers in international businesses open up connections with people across the globe as well as chances to travel. Similarly, nonprofit organizations exist all over the world and serve a wide variety of people from different places; many nonprofits are dedicated to serving immigrants and refugees. Whatever field you want to work in, there is always a need for those who can build new pathways to communication.

“Studying a foreign language gives you a chance to communicate with people that you normally might not be able to,” said Pickerd.

Professor Pickerd shared the story of a friend who had been having trouble communicating with some of his employees of whom English was not their first language. Pickerd shared some resources to help his friend learn Spanish, the language the employees were more familiar with.

“Now [my friend] was experiencing what it was like to try and communicate in a different language and do it imperfectly,” said Pickerd. “It actually started to build up his rapport with his employees and made him a more effective leader.”

Because his friend had put himself in the position of his employees, he began to understand their perspective. It was a humbling experience and one that inevitably helped him grow as a person and as part of a community.

Opportunities At Cornerstone

A variety of language courses are offered at Cornerstone, including Spanish, French, German, Hebrew and Chinese. We also have dozens of exchange and study abroad programs. Two of our most popular programs are a semester in Spain or Ecuador. If you want to learn more about what off-campus study programs we offer, you can find details on our Off-Campus Semester Programs webpage.

Expanding your communication skills can be useful in so many different areas of your life. If you are looking for a school that will support you in learning about more languages and cultures, come explore our Humanities Division majors and minors or apply today.