Knowledge of a foreign language can lead to numerous careers that involve working with other languages and cultures. As the world becomes more interconnected, additional opportunities open up for people who speak multiple languages. Continue reading to learn how an understanding of foreign language linguistics can be applicable in many industries.
Linguistics is a science that explores the structure, development, acquisition, history and patterns of language. In a linguistics program, you'll learn how languages evolve and spread. While degree programs in foreign languages and linguistics are closely related, foreign language programs may focus more on the diction, grammar and vocabulary associated with a specific language. Studying either of these fields could prepare you for work in the education, government, interpretation, business or hospitality sectors.
Bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs are available in a variety of foreign languages, as well as translation and applied linguistics. You could explore second language acquisition, methods for teaching language, non-verbal communications and pronunciation techniques. Language programs typically include studies in culture, enabling learners to discover the context in which different societies use language, making translation easier. In applied linguistics programs, you'll examine the role language plays in everyday life through courses in phonetics and language cognition. Some programs also explore how computer-assisted learning systems are used during the language acquisition process.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities related to these fields of study are expected to be favorable between 2008 and 2018 (www.bls.gov). For instance, the number of employed interpreters and translators should increase by 22%, while the number of working ESL (English as a second language) teachers could grow by 15%. The number of employed linguistic anthropologists - anthropologists who work with languages to understand ancient and modern cultures - is expected to increase by 28% during this time. As of May 2010, anthropologists earned a median annual salary of $54,230. The median annual wage for interpreters and translators was $43,300. For university foreign language professors, the median annual wage was $59,080 during this time, as noted by the BLS.
If you decide to go into foreign language linguistics, many schools offer a degree in a foreign language, such as Spanish, French or German. You could also pursue a degree or certificate in translation. Very few American universities offer bachelor's degree programs in linguistics, although they do exist. Undergraduate programs can act as a starting point for advanced degree programs.
Master's and doctoral degree programs in linguistics and translation are much more common. In these programs, you could study topics like research methods, language analysis and practical linguistic applications. Applied linguistics programs include studies in translation or methods for teaching a foreign language, preparing graduates for careers as curriculum developers, government translators or linguistic specialists. Earning a doctoral degree can lead to work as a university foreign language or linguistics professor.
According to the BLS, some careers require certification. For instance, aspiring public school teachers must obtain professional teaching certification. Although it's not always required, translator certification and interpreter certification is available through various American associations.