5 of the Most Useful Language Classes to Take in College

5 Languages That Are Useful To Learn In College

  • Spanish
  • Chinese (Mandarin)
  • French
  • Russian
  • American Sign Language

Many new college students might be wondering about the most useful language classes to take in college. There are thousands of languages the world over, so choosing one to study can be daunting. However, if you are looking for the most practical languages to learn, below are the top five you should consider.

1. Spanish

Spanish continues to be one of the most practical foreign languages American students can learn. This is because of the substantial minority of Spanish speakers in America. In addition to that, Spanish is spoken by 500 million people worldwide and second in number only to Mandarin. It is simpler to learn than many other languages, including the major Asian languages, and widely spoken across Latin America. This opens up all of Latin America and Spain to you. Spanish is also a very useful language for medical professionals to learn because it will help you serve your patients better.

Ranking: 30 Best Liberal Arts Colleges in the West, Ranked by Return on Investment (ROI)

2. Chinese (Mandarin)

Like Spanish, Mandarin is a highly practical language class to take in today's world. There are several Chinese dialects, including Cantonese, but Mandarin is the most common and useful. Knowledge of Mandarin is important for students pursuing an education in business, international relations or even finance because of China's importance place on the world stage. Mandarin is not only spoken in China, either. It is also widely used in Taiwan, Singapore, Philippines, Mongolia, Thailand, Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia. The downside to Mandarin is that it is very difficult to learn, both in written and spoken varieties. However, if you can gain proficiency, it will be a highly valued skill by employers.

3. French

French is no longer as useful as it once was, but it is still a useful language class for American students to take for many reasons. Canada, which shares a massive border with the US and does extensive business there, speaks French as a secondary language. French itself continues to be a major literary and cultural language and could be particularly helpful for literature majors or art majors. French-speaking Africa is also growing in influence as a place of international business. French is a Romance language and, like Spanish, is similar enough to English that it's easier to learn.

4. Russian

Due to the United States' strained relationship with Russia, the usefulness of Russian as a second language is growing. Russia has been aiming to be a major economic power for years and succeeded. Wealthy Russians want to do business internationally, where speakers can find a use for this language. On a more personal level, the ability to speak Russian may net you a girlfriend, because Russia has far more women than men according to the Pew Research Center.

5. American Sign Language

The ability to do and understand American Sign Language (commonly abbreviated as ASL) is among the most useful language classes. It can be especially helpful if you wish to go into social work or work with disadvantaged or disabled people. It can also be helpful if you go into medicine or wish to become a teacher. The ability to use ASL looks excellent on a resume and will open your eyes to Deaf Culture.

No matter your major, studying a foreign language in college is very useful and may even be required. Learn about another culture through its language and gain a valuable skill in the process. The most useful language classes to take in college will improve your marketability and expose you to new cultures.