Foreign Language Linguistics

Learn how the study of foreign language linguistics can lead to a job in interpretation and translation, academia and anthropology. Find information about degree options, employment outlook and salary here, and make an informed decision abut your career and education.

Is Foreign Language Linguistics for Me?

Overview of the Field

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.

Employment and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for interpreters and translators will increase by 46% nationwide between 2012 and 2022. During the same period, the number of working adult literacy and high school equivalency diploma teachers, including ESL (English as a second language) teachers, could grow by 9%. Between 2012 and 2022, anthropologists, such as linguistic anthropologists, may see a 19% growth in jobs. As of May 2013, the median annual salary for anthropologists was $58,360, while interpreters and translators earned $42,420. In the same month, university foreign language professors had a median annual income of $58,620, as noted by the BLS (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Work in Foreign Language Linguistics?

Educational Options

Bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs are available in a variety of foreign languages, as well as translation and applied linguistics. Language majors may include the study of Spanish, French or German. You could also pursue a degree or certificate in translation. Although few American universities offer bachelor's degree programs in linguistics, undergraduate programs can act as a starting point for advanced degree programs.

Graduate 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.

Curriculum

In a language or linguistics program, you could explore second language acuisition, 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.

Certification

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.

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