Frequently Asked Questions


What are the benefits of language proficiency?

Career goals

Some jobs require knowledge of a foreign language, but many more present additional opportunities to multilingual applicants. Carleton graduates have used their language skills in any number of careers, including social work, medicine, law, international business, community organizing, foreign service, journalism, hospitality, education, the military, volunteer service, law enforcement and many others.


Study or travel in a foreign country can be an incredibly rewarding and enriching experience. Off-campus seminars led by Carleton faculty are available in Chinese, French, German, Russian and Spanish. Carleton students may also enroll in programs offered by other institutions or by consortia of which Carleton is a member. A number of competitive Carleton fellowships provide additional opportunities for internships, research or service learning abroad.

Interest in the literature, history, politics, or culture

Obviously, advanced study of the literature, history, politics or culture of a particular country or region requires proficiency in a language. Students are often surprised to learn that many graduate programs, especially in the humanities, require a reading knowledge of French, German or other languages, no matter what their area of specialization.

Local immigrant populations

Nearly 1 in 5 Americans speaks a language other than English at home. Spanish is the most common, followed by Chinese, French, German, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Italian, Korean, Russian and Polish. [Source: 2000 Census] Knowing another language can give you access to the cultural riches of immigrant communities, while opening up opportunities in business and volunteer service.

Family background

Learning the language of your forebears can open lines of communication with non-English-speaking relatives, while deepening your understanding of your family’s roots.

Sharpening intellectual skills

Learning a second language helps improve memory, critical thinking and study skills. Many students find that the discipline and sustained effort required to learn a language help them succeed in other academic endeavors.

Other FAQs

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