Why Modern Languages Matter


A while ago, someone I was talking to explained to me a Turkish proverb. A rough translation was:

“When a person knows one language, they have the power of one person. When a person learns a second language, they gain the power of a second person.”

In a sense, when you know another language, you gain the strength of being able to communicate with others; you’re opening yourself to other perspectives and ideas that you may not normally have come across in your own language.

Something that’s important when it comes to languages is that they carry your past, and your culture’s past too. A native language gives you the ability to get to know the intricacies of a culture. You have access to information that you normally wouldn’t have gotten from learning about that culture from the outside. As well, through languages, you create and shape your identity. When you learn a second language, you learn more about yourself by thinking more deeply about how you want to express yourself. Thus, you learn to better communicate with others, and better articulate your own thoughts.

Having a Modern Languages degree is more than just learning a new language. It’s about delving into a new culture, and truly working to understand its point of view. When someone goes into a language degree, they come out with not just communication skills, but with a more open mindset. Graduates are able to enter a variety of fields, because they have more experience with dealing with breaking down their assumptions, have a broader understanding of how society and culture is shaped by language, and also the interpersonal skills built through the tight knit community of the language department at Augustana.

Languages mean everything; they describe us and our identity, allow us to communicate with others, and express our culture and traditions. Graduates of these degrees have the flexibility to work in a plethora of places, and are armed with many applicable skills for the working world. If you’re interested in some language or culture classes offered at Augustana, check out AUGER 335 Contemporary German Culture, or AUSCA 142 Viking Age Mythology offered in English during the winter semester. As well, if you’re interested in learning a language other than English, there are beginner and intermediate classes for German, French, Spanish and Norwegian, which are offered every year.


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