In today’s workforce, whose reach is increasingly global with online interactions reduced to tiny boxes in Zoom, fluency in a second language – or two – is more important than never. This semester’s Honors College Supper Club will explore the benefits of “Speaking Superpowers” from 5:30-7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 15, in the Honors Student Lounge, Room 130, Gearhart Hall. The dinner will be hosted by Honors College Dean Lynda Coon, and faculty from the Department of World Literatures, Languages and Cultures will be on hand to answer questions and spark conversation. Honors students can register by completing this online interest form; participation is limited to 15 students.
Build bridges – and cars
Professionals who work in various careers around the world know that they must be bilingual or trilingual to participate in international teams.
“It helps build a good relationship and show that you, the American, care about the other culture and the other country in the other language,” said Linda Jones, chair of the Department of Literature, Languages and cultures of the world. “Because when we only speak English, there’s a wall we can never cross. But when we can speak a second or third language, then we can enter their world.”
Most immediately for U of A students, learning a second language can create incredible opportunities for international study and internships. Take Nicholas Broadbent, a specialized mechanical engineer with a passion for cars, who took over the international engineering program at the University of Alberta when he was a student here.
“When he studied at the University of Darmstadt, he was able to work in their Formula 1 team, then he did an internship at Mercedes,” said Kathleen Condray, an associate professor of German who helped Broadbent prepare. to this experience. “And when he looked at the doctoral programs, he said they all really wanted to talk about his experiences in Germany.” Ultimately, Broadbent accepted a $330,000 scholarship to pursue a doctorate in mechanical engineering at Stanford, where he works to develop machine learning algorithms to improve the safety and performance of autonomous vehicles. [Read more about Broadbent in A+, the Honors College magazine.]
Support research and find jobs
Learning a second language also opens the door to exciting research happening here in Arkansas. For example, undergraduate and graduate students are currently creating short films under two minutes to spotlight historical figures who immigrated to Arkansas. One such person to feature is Marie Jeanne, born in the late 1700s under Spanish rule in Arkansas Post, the state’s first European settlement.
“She was freed from slavery and started a tavern at Arkansas Post,” Jones said. “She had a reputation on the Mississippi River for her cooking, her kindness and her hospitality. … There is an African-American scholar who called her probably the first African-American woman pit master in the United States; c That’s how I got interested in It’s an Arkansas Story We Don’t Know.
In addition to digital humanities projects like this, studying foreign languages prepares students for jobs, “not only overseas but also for U.S.-based multinational corporations and universities around the world. “, pointed out Condray. Students don’t necessarily need to find room in their schedules for a full major in classical or modern languages to pick up a second or third language, she added.
“Many honors students already study languages as part of their honors degree, so they would only need five additional courses on top of that for a minor, which most students can complete in a single calendar year: one class in the fall, another in the spring, then study abroad in the summer.” Students of all languages can learn foundational skills at the U of A that allow them to continue their language learning abroad or in graduate school.
U of A students can learn Arabic, Cherokee, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. Other topics covered at this event include international certification exams that prove one’s level of proficiency and unique opportunities and resources that can help students pursue higher education abroad.