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Department of Modern Languages

Languages & Programs

Thousands of K-State students recognize the value of combining a degree in agriculture, engineering, architecture, physics, journalism and many other fields with a foreign language to enhance their career plans.

Modern Languages offers courses and programs in:

Our department recommends students study abroad in order to enhance their minor or major. Students are advised to consult with the department regarding applicability of courses taken abroad to their major. Students interested in preparing for graduate school or for high school teaching should be aware of the corollary courses in linguistics and phonetics. Six hours of history of the country of the student's major language are desirable. The department sponsors summer study programs in France, Germany, Mexico, and Spain. In addition, students may choose to participate in other programs, such as the International Student Exchange Program, or Community Service Programs. For more information about study abroad opportunity, please check our study abroad page.

Entering students who have had previous language experience and who plan to continue language study are required to take a language placement examination before or at the beginning of the first semester of language study. Students wishing to acquire credit for language proficiency gained before coming to K-State should contact the Department of Modern Languages (modlang@ksu.edu).

Students testing into a higher level and successfully completing the course with a "C" or better, will receive retroactive credit for the preceding course for FREE, on a "take one class/ receive credit for one class" basis, thus completing your language course sequence quicker.

The department offers scholarships to undergraduate majors and double majors for study at K-State or study abroad programs. For details, contact the head of the Department of Modern Languages.

Secondary Majors

We also encourage students to consider secondary majors in International Studies or Latin American Studies or a minor in East Asian Studies, or work in African Studies, to complement their curriculum. For information about these programs, please contact Dr. Robert Clark (rclark@ksu.edu), Professor of French, Modern Languages, and Director, International and Area StudiesCollege of Arts & Sciences, or the program director in other area studies that interest you [David Graff (dgraff@ksu.edu)for East Asian Studies, or the leaders in African Studies].

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Benefits of Learning a Language While in College and Beyond

Certain minors universally beneficial

Key factors behind learning a foreign language

While in college:

According to the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, learning a foreign language supports overall academic achievement, improves cognitive and communicative abilities, and affects attitudes and beliefs about other cultures.[1] Learning another language will help you develop and enhance your communication skills both in English and in the target language. It will teach you to work with a diverse group of people and adapt to differing worldviews. Learning a language takes time, patience and practice, so it also teaches you to be organized and to set realistic goals.

In your future career:

Research by economists Albert Saiz and Elena Zoido also shows that the benefits from learning another language translate to the workplace: “individuals who speak a second language are more productive and earn higher wages.”[2] Their study suggests that the income of college graduates who speak German, Italian, Russian, or Chinese can be higher by 4%, with a difference of 2.7% for speakers of French and 1.7% for Spanish speakers. Specifically, they observe, “individuals in personal services, business support, and management positions are the ones who are more highly rewarded in the labor market for their foreign-language skills.”[3] iSeek, Minnesota's career, education and job resource, indicates that the most sought-after languages are “Spanish, German, French, Italian, Russian and Japanese, with a growing emphasis on Mandarin, given China's booming economy.”[4] 

What can you do with a foreign language?

You can travel and work in a different country. But what if you want to stay in the U.S.? Speaking another language is a valued skill when working in the following fields: 

  • Health care: nurses, paramedics, physician's assistants and home health aids
  • Hospitality: concierge, resort/hotel manager, desk clerk
  • Education: teacher, guidance counselor
  • Law enforcement: police officer, security guard, investigator, probation officer
  • Customer service: sales clerk, store supervisor, customer service representative
  • Social service: social worker (family, substance abuse), social work administration
  • Finance: teller, financial advisor, investment banker, accountant
  • Communication: translator, interpreter, public relations specialist, journalist, media relations officer

For more information on careers, contact Kansas State University Career and Employment Services.

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[1] http://www.actfl.org/advocacy/what-the-research-shows

[2] Saiz, A., & Zoido, E. (2005). Listening to What the World Says: Bilingualism and Earnings in the United States. Review of Economics and Statistics, 87(3), 523-538.

[3] Saiz, A., & Zoido, E. (2005). Listening to What the World Says: Bilingualism and Earnings in the United States. Review of Economics and Statistics, 87(3), 523-538.

[4] How Being Bilingual Can Boost Your Career - ISEEK. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.iseek.org/news/fw/fw6715FutureWork.html

Dr. Laura Kanost
Associate Professor of Spanish, Director of Undergraduate Studies
EH 127
785-532-1925
E-mail: lakanost@k-state.edu