Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

What are we speaking today?

Schuyler Burke

If you grew up in a monolingual household or didn’t have a chance to learn a second language, it’s not too late to start. Learning a language in college allows students to connect with other cultures, distinguish themselves academically and open up to unique opportunities, making it a useful tool in college and beyond. 

Finding yourself in an environment where others don’t speak a particular language and being able to use it elicits a sense of pride for your hard work and dedication to this new skill.

Language study can help motivate students to go beyond any required courses, by pursuing conversations with fellow language learners or using apps to learn more phrases. 

Languages can also shift how students view themselves. The more a person practices, the easier it gets, making the endeavor an exponentially rewarding one. The more diligence one may have with a language, the prouder you will be at your level of proficiency.

Nicholas Pierce, an incoming graduate student in the Center for Russian and Eastern European Eurasian Studies, explained how his dedication to the Russian language shaped the rest of his collegiate career at UT. 

“I had really enjoyed the process of learning it … the more I’ve learned it, and the more I’ve engaged with it,” Pierce said. 

Learning a language can also lead to career opportunities. Resilience and the ability to learn quickly are common workplace skills that employers look for. 

Students who are open-minded to new languages can open doors to new careers. 

Cameron Waltz is an international relations, Asian cultures and languages-Chinese, Asian studies and government senior. Waltz gravitated to Chinese in high school, following his passion for U.S.-China relations. 

“My Chinese – I use it in my research. I wrote my thesis on Taiwanese foreign policy. And I used my research from primary source documents that did not have English translations,” Waltz said. “Every job and internship I’ve had in my field has resulted as a part of me having language proficiency.”

Chinese language knowledge has allowed Waltz to study abroad in China, Taiwan and South Korea. It has also led to being the Editor in Chief of the Intercollegiate U.S.-China Journal, a bilingual student journal. 

Language helps connect people to the culture that they may claim, but feel disconnected from. Sometimes students grow up familiar with a language, but don’t get a chance to formally learn it until college. Becoming familiar with your native language lifts the barriers of getting to know your culture more intimately. 

The opposite is also true — another benefit to learning a new language is experiencing a new culture. Being introduced to new cultures can shift an outlook on situations. You end up considering new communication techniques and approaches to account for different cultural interpretations.  

Julian Alin, an international relations and global studies and government senior, is  studying Arabic at UT. He is also learning Italian outside of the University. 

About traveling, Alin said, “if you get to speak the language, you blend right in; so many new doors open to you, you’re invited into people’s homes, you get to experience other cultures from a perspective no one else will get.”

UT students have the opportunity at the University to attain at least a beginner’s level of proficiency. With three dozen languages available to students, it’s time to embrace language study. With our diverse student population, you may be able to use your newly acquired language on campus sooner than anticipated.

Washington is a Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies Graduate student from Los Angeles, California.

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About the Contributor
Schuyler Burke, Illustration Coordinator
Schuyler is an Arts and Entertainment Technologies Sophomore from Austin, Texas. Currently she works as an Illustration Coordinator for the Opinion Department at the Texan. She was previously an opinion Illustrator. Schuyler loves to create and read in her free time.