One of the many advantages offered by student programmes abroad is the possibility to learn or perfect a foreign language in-situ, by interacting with native speakers. When coupled with the opportunity to study at a well-accredited and internationally respected institution, this leaves youngsters who choose to travel abroad with a plethora of reasons to take on the experience.
But, as with everything, learning certain languages is likely to be more beneficial than others. This, of course, does depend on the field of focus (which might be more viable in certain areas than in others), but the truth is that in today’s job-seeking environment, some languages give you an edge right off the bat.
As such, young people embarking on student programmes abroad focusing on languages might want to turn their attention towards certain countries and languages as opposed to others. As a general rule, this choice will be related to either the country they wish to travel to or the area they wish to specialise in; however, either of these factors can just as easily be influenced by previously known languages.
Those who do not have any specific career requirements or any particular destination in mind may consider investing in Chinese or Spanish as their languages of choice. Besides English, these are the two most widely spoken in the world, and with China in particular coming up quickly as a worldwide economic power, they can be considered the languages of the future. Russian and Arabic would also be good choices, especially considering that Russia is a surprisingly popular destination for youngsters on student programmes.
Those who do have a country or course they are specifically aiming for might, of course, want to learn the language of their planned destination. Despite the growing tendency for educational facilities to offer courses in English for foreigners, some countries continue to use their mother tongue, rather than the lingua franca, in the vast majority of their academic classes; that is the case, for instance, with Germany, France or Spain. Those wanting to pursue specialty courses in any of these nations – engineering in Germany, for instance – are therefore advised to learn that country’s mother tongue, so that they may understand the classes when the time comes.
In the end, there is no right or wrong way to go about learning languages for student programmes. As with everything, it is mostly down to objectives, ambitions and, of course, personal taste.