Foreign language study can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life, especially if you are able to apply your knowledge in an environment where the language is spoken by natives. Will this study lead to a career? In some cases intensive study of foreign language can indeed lead directly to a career. In many other cases, however, people find that their experiences with foreign language and culture have influenced the course of their career, but not necessarily determined it. For this reason many experts advise that foreign language studies be combined with other studies, such as education, business, political science, law, etc. Of course in almost any field, knowledge of a foreign language may give you a competitive edge, both in job seeking and on the job.
Many career possibilities are described below. Forming clear career goals early and planning the training one needs is the most effective means of landing a job that incorporates knowledge of a foreign language. But a word to those who love foreign language: there is a very good possibility that your knowledge of "things foreign" will have positive effects in your life—not only in your career, but also in your ability to communicate in general, in your ability to interact with people from diverse backgrounds, in your understanding of global issues, and even in your perspective on American viewpoints. If you pursue your interests in foreign language and invest serious study, you will most certainly reap rewards. Ideally, you will find a way to enhance your studies by going abroad and sharpening your skills in an environment where the language embodies the culture.
Teaching Languages in the United States
The field of foreign language teaching has seen a toughening of standards in recent years. One may find that a rather high level of competency is required to secure teaching positions. For this reason, one should consider study abroad options during one's undergraduate program.
Teaching positions are available at the elementary, secondary, and college levels. Those who choose to teach high school should consider gaining certification in two languages in order to enhance employability and stay competitive.
Teaching English Abroad
Teaching English abroad is an excellent way to improve knowledge of a foreign language and gain valuable experience. While ESL teachers are generally not paid well, the experience one gains is very important for a future career in foreign language. For further information on the current availability of job openings and requirements contact:
Association of Teachers of English as a Second Language
National Association for Foreign Student Affairs (NAFSA)
1860 19th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20037
Language Learning Resource Center
Crown Center 208
The federal government is the largest employer in the United States. A sampling of governmental agencies that require employees with a knowledge of one or more foreign languages is provided below.
Department of State
The State Department employs about four thousand foreign service officers, whose duties range from administrative, consular, economic, and political in 230 embassies around the world. Foreign language majors who are willing to develop other areas of expertise (computers, business administration, communications, management banking etc.) stand a good chance of being hired.
Federal Bureau of Investigation
The FBI is currently in need of linguists in order to aid in the enforcement of federal statues in such crimes as terrorism, public corruption, organized crime, and bribery. Depending upon the nature of the position acquired, one may be highly involved in the investigative procedure, including surveillance, interviewing witnesses etc.
Banking and Finance
The cornerstone of international business and commerce is banking, and it is within the international banking institutions that many may find suitable positions requiring knowledge of a foreign language. It is important to keep in mind that it is the understanding of cultural nuances that often accompanies knowledge of a foreign language that is often seen as most valuable. As a result, one should keep this fact in mind when marketing oneself in the realm of international banking and commerce and business, in general.
Travel and Tourism
Hotels, cruise ships, and airlines actively recruit foreign language majors in order to facilitate a high level of customer service. It is in perhaps these positions that a high level of proficiency in a foreign language may not be required. In other words, cultural sensitivity and an ability to relate and communicate with people seems to be an equally high priority.
A degree in a foreign language is often seen as quite relevant to the public relations scene. Majors are trained to the sensitivities of language and culture and are often adept at finding diplomatic ways to represent companies while maintaining an understanding of how images, words, and language are interpreted by the public. For information regarding these positions, consult Gale's Public Relations Career Directory.
The field of international advertising is a highly specialized field in which knowledge of a foreign language and culture greatly facilitates better and more profitable business relationships with foreign countries. The goal of American international advertising is to promote American products overseas. Significant knowledge of foreign language and culture seems to provide a special edge over other applicants for these positions.
With the increase in media based language programs, there has been an expansion of opportunities within publishing. On the whole, publishing houses have an editorial staff composed of people who are quite familiar with two, three, or four modern foreign languages. Recording studios also retain employees to develop and update language videos etc.
Lawyers who work with members of ethnic, minority, and immigrant groups, perform legal aid work, or specialize in international law, maritime law, or international business law, discover that proficiency in a foreign language is a very good asset. For information regarding prelaw at Loyola, visit the Prelaw website.
Many may find that their career goals in foreign language require an increase in competency. An excellent way to facilitate further study and practice of one's target language is to volunteer. A myriad of volunteer opportunities involving foreign language exist both abroad and in the US.
The most prominent governmental volunteer organization is the Peace corps. All 6,000 Peace Corps volunteers must receive training in the language of the country to which they are assigned. Getting accepted to the Peace Corps is often dependent upon whether or not one can demonstrate a useful skill, often in the areas of education, engineering, and medicine. If one prefers to remain in the US, the domestic counterpart of the Peace Corps is VISTA, which seeks volunteers who know French, Spanish, or Indian languages.
Many religious organizations have relief programs and missionary programs that function overseas. Few discriminate on the basis of religious denomination, but there are exceptions.
Volunteer work can be extremely valuable and rewarding, and often it allows interaction in a foreign culture and practice with the language in a very hands-on, goal oriented setting.
The above section was written by Ryan Bergschneider, LLRC staff employee, and David Pankratz, LLRC Director, November 2000.
The Modern Language Association has produced a brochure entitled "Why Learn Another Language: Knowing Other Languages Brings Opportunities." The brochure is available from their website www.adfl.org under the rubric "Resources for Departments."
Activities of Loyola Alumni
The following information was sent to the department by students who majored or minored in one or more foreign languages here at Loyola. If you have information to add, please contact the department!
Degree: Master of Arts in Spanish, January 2001
Current Academic Pursuit: Enrolled in PhD Program in Spanish Language at Literature at the University of Chicago.
Degree: Master of Arts in Spanish, May 2000
Current Academic Pursuits: Enrolled in PhD Program in Spanish Language at Literature at the University of Chicago.
Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Spanish, January 2000
Current Occupation: Employment service program representative at local Illinois employment and training center.
Other Activities: Justin participated in the Summer 2000 Spanish Immersion Trip to Cuba sponsored by Loyola University Ministry. Justin also worked on the new Centennial Forum mural dedicated to El Salvadoran martyrs. Justin is considering pursuing graduate studies in Spanish or fine arts.
Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Spanish, May 2000
Current Academic Pursuits: Post baccalaureate studies at Chicago State University where she is now taking recommended science courses for medical school.
Current Occupation: Employed by Chicago Transit Authority.
Other Activities: Kelle volunteers in the pediatric unit at the University of Chicago. Kelle recently returned from a seven day trip to the Bahamas The trip was a graduation gift.
Degree: Bachelor of Arts in French, May 2000
Current Occupation: First grade teacher, Chicago Public School.
Degree: Bachelor of Arts in French, May 1991
Current Academic Pursuits: Recently qualified as a teacher of English as a second language classes at the International School and Illinois State levels.
Current Position: Instructor of French and Spanish at the Anglo-American School in Moscow, Russia.
Papers Delivered & Participated in several international teaching conferences and Conference professional seminars in Europe.
Other Activities: Director of student excursions at the Anglo-American school in Moscow.
Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Italian, May 1999
Current Academic Pursuits: MBA at Loyola university Chicago—with emphasis in integrated marketing communication.
Pursuing E-commerce specialization certificate.
Current Occupation: Senior Business Analyst
Sales Systems Intranet/Extranet Department at Kraft Foods
Other Activities: Junior Achievement Volunteer
College Business Recruiter for Kraft
Italian-English Technical Translator
Habitat for Humanity
Degree : Master of Arts in Spanish, January 2000
Current Occupation: Mark is a teacher at Sullivan High School in Rogers Park.
Degree: Bachelor of Arts in French and English, May 2000
Summa Cum Laude
Current Academic Pursuits: Nathan will enter the University of Iowa's "Writers' Workshop" to pursue his MFA in the fall of 2001.
Current Occupation: Assistant diAnglais for Lycee Raymond Queneau, Lille, France.
Awards/Grants: The above assistantship was awarded by the French government.
Other Activities: Nathan plans to travel throughout Europe.
Degree: Master of Arts in Spanish, May 1999
Current Academic Pursuits: Enrolling in doctoral program in education.
Current Occupation: Full-time instructor in Spanish and Department Chair, Chicago Public Schools.
Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Spanish, May 1997
Current Academic Pursuits: Pursuing a Masters Degree in Curriculum and Instruction with ESL
Current Occupation: Instructor of Spanish for grades 6,7, and 8 in Arlington Heights, IL.
Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Spanish, May 1999
Current Academic Pursuits: Currently pursuing an MBA in Marketing and Information Systems at Pursuits:
Keller Graduate School of Management in Lincolnshire, IL.
Current Occupation: Marketing coordinator for ASAP Software in Buffalo Grove, Illinois.
Other Activities: Melissa enjoys traveling, golfing, and reading.
Degree: Bachelor of Arts in French and Spanish, January 2000
Current Academic Pursuits: Enrolled in MBA Program at DePaul University-concentration in International Business with a focus in marketing
Current Occupation: International Account Representative at Bell & Howell
Other Activities: Sarah has done presentations at trade shows in Brazil and Canada.
She travels for personal enjoyment and has so far traveled to Holland, Ireland, and England this year.
Degree : Bachelor of Arts in French, January 2000
Current Academic Pursuits: Pursuing Masters Degree at the University of Chicago in European Pursuits: History.
Current Occupation: Full-time Graduate Student.
Awards/Grants: Alpha Sigma Nu member, Phi Alpha Theta (History Honors Society), Pi Delta Phi (French Honors Society)
Other Activities: Taught World History, US History and American Government for one year at Fenwick High School in Illinois.
Degree: Bachelor of Arts in French, Spring 1998
Current Academic Pursuits: Applied to graduate program for a Masters Degree in Counseling. Currently enrolled in a counseling course.
Current Occupation: Residential coordinator for children with developmental disabilities at Misericordia Home.
Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Spanish, Spring 2000
Bachelor of Science in Biology, Spring 2000
Summa Cum Laude
Current Academic Pursuits: Enrolled in Midwestern University is Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Degree: Bachelor of Arts in French, May 2000
Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Computing Sciences, May 2000
Magna Cum Laude
Current Occupation: Analyst at Anderson Consulting.
Other Activities: Nitya is currently overseeing the design and development of an internet cafe at the Alliance Francaise in Chicago.
Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Spanish, May 1997
Master of Education, Loyola University Chicago, January 1999
Current Occupation: Instructor of Spanish at McAuley High School in Chicago.
The information on Alumni activities was originally compiled by the department of Modern Languages and Literatures, fall 2000.