Whether you love it or hate it, most people acknowledge that knowing more than one language is a major asset.
You’ll have a better job, probably be a higher earner, and speaking in another language is always sexy. The only problem is, learning in the UK makes it so difficult. At most state schools you’ll have access to French and German. You might be able to take Spanish and Italian GCSEs, but don’t hold your breath.
Languages at university
At university, the situation doesn’t really improve. Unless you’re a Languages student, you can kiss those multilingual dreams goodbye. The only option is to take an extra course – this not only takes up time, but it’s also expensive, which is odd when you consider that they’re catering to a student body who can make money disappear faster than Littlefinger could make it (we’re basically all King Robert). But when you take a year out, the opportunities unfold, like a buffet of linguistic possibilities.
I’m probably a little biased as a Languages student. But it’s so easy to study languages here. Most universities allow relative freedom when you choose your modules, so as long as you have a decent timetable, it’s all good. The freedom means that as well as learning Italian, I’ll be learning Swedish, German and French this year. Considering I wanted to learn Russian and Arabic as well, I’m calling this a downgrade
The best thing is, it doesn’t even compromise my ability to speak Italian. It forces you away from other Erasmus students (you’ll likely be speaking English) and toward actual Italians. People who don’t do Erasmus should know that it’s not that easy to meet the natives. Like normal university students, we’re slightly resented for our drinking, the discounts and priority we get, and our ability to miss lessons and literally not have to care.
Taking another language is an opportunity to change that – they see you as another student, rather than a sea of vodka-soaked hormones. It might be what we are, but it’s not the best impression! Not only that, but most European universities offer a wider range of languages – I can’t imagine any university in England teaching Swedish as a module or course (if I’m wrong, don’t shoot me, that’s great news!). Finally, they’re free. FREE. I can’t overstate that enough. Not spending money to learn is great – I know you pay the course fees, but you’d pay it anyway.
What I’m essentially saying is come to Europe and take a language. What’s the worst that can happen?
Would you study languages as an Erasmus student? Let us know in the comments below.
Photo: Surreal Name Given / Flickr