What CAN you do with language?!

As you start mapping out your class schedule for the fall, deciding how many a cappella groups you can join and exactly what number of hours you can go without sleeping, it seems like as good a time as ever to start thinking about that language you’ve been studying. 

Outside of the classroom, how can you put your rad language skills to use this semester? Read on for a list of opportunities to get you started!

Study abroad.

What better way to engage with your passion for language than to totally immerse yourself in it! While it may be a bit too late to study abroad this semester, it’s definitely not too early to start planning for the spring. Check in with your university’s study abroad office or with your language professors—both may know of awesome opportunities or programs to get your search started!

No idea where to begin? Check out the Institute of International Education’s student toolkit for studying abroad, where they outline search engines and scholarship sites to help you find the right fit. You can even read some student testimonials to get a better feel for the location or program you’re interested in.

Don’t get nervous about financing the journey! Take a peek at resources like GoOversea’s listing of grants and scholarships specifically for studying abroad. Organizations such as Diversity Abroad can provide you with ways to not only study abroad, but also how to get international internships, experience service-learning abroad, and even volunteering!

…Or just go abroad!

Going abroad doesn’t necessarily have to involve studying in a formal classroom setting. Just go! You can still find ways to engage in immersion linguistically and culturally through other routes. One way to do this is to volunteer internationally. Start by thinking about where you would like to travel, how you would like to use your language there, and what exactly you would be interested in doing.

Keep in mind that you don’t want to be a tourist there to get a truly interactive experience—take time to research your program of choice and see if the community you are engaging with has an active part in the project you’ll be undertaking. You can begin by checking out programs like LeaveUrMark and resources such as GoAbroad’s guide to volunteering abroad or Project Abroad’s vast array of opportunities.

You could also spend your time abroad in an internship. Want to learn more? Explore these international internships in education and see what’s out there!

Speaking of internships…

Internships are a great way to gain experience without the time commitment a job requires, which is great with the busy schedule college students keep. It’s also good to keep in mind that an internship does not necessarily equate to being unpaid! Don’t rule it out—you could gain something truly invaluable and expose yourself to great connections.

It’s never to early to start thinking ahead for summer 2016 programs like the NSA Summer Language Program. Thinking big? You could also start looking at opportunities with national scope such as UN language internships.Want to stay a little more local? Reach out to government agencies in your area to see if they are in need of translators or interpreters. Check in with your university’s language departments—they might know creatives and academics that need your help!

Don’t have time for an internship per se? Start an organization at your school related to your language of interest or language learning more generally. Not that we are biased at all, but you could even start an SLE campus!

Find a Job.

Start simple and allow yourself to practice your language skills, too, by tutoring in local after-school programs or with students on your own campus. Other job opportunities at school could include being a TA for language professors or research assistants for special projects.

You can also search websites such as Multilingual Vacancies, where you can narrow your results based on language of choice, your location, and even the recruiters themselves. The opportunities for language lovers are endless, so it’s not too early to start looking towards possible careers that utilize your language abilities.

Already super committed for the Fall? Just blog about it!

One of the most beneficial parts of language learning is getting the chance to engage with someone else’s narrative, especially when it’s about their own language journey. You can learn from others’ experience by checking out language blogs where polyglots from around the globe are chronicling where language is taking them, how its challenging them, and what they love about it.

Catalog your own language journey! You could start a blog for your language department, program, club, or your own language studies! Just get writing— it’s not only practice, but it’s also great experience for future opportunities in a language career.

Keeping a blog (video, written, or otherwise!) can help you stay motivated as you sort out where language is going to take you next because it allows you to track how much you have learned. Motivate your peers, too!

Kirsten Craig

Kirsten Craig

Kirsten is a graduate student in Columbia University's Masters of Global Thought program. A lover of anything friend and everything sweet, she is passionate about the environment and the many ways our communication is intricately linked to its preservation.

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