Foreign Language Studies

More than just a requirement

To earn your B.A. or your B.S. degree, you’ll be required to take at least four semesters of language study. But that’s not the only reason to study a language.

Language study gives you invaluable insights into how other peoples and cultures see the world. In other words, language fluency translates into global fluency.

And global fluency is exactly what employers and graduate schools are looking for.

Explore languages at HLS

Cecily Kemp: Ready to connect

“If you study another language, there’s no way around it: you have to also study the various cultures attached to that language,” says Cecily Kemp, a double major in Chinese and sociology, with a minor in French.

Of course, the very best way to learn about both the language and the culture of a country is to live there. Cecily, who was adopted from China by an Indianapolis family when she was a year old, is currently spending her senior year at Nanking University in China. Before that, she spent a summer in Beijing. And before that, she studied Chinese at the Summer Language Workshop in Bloomington.

If you study another language, there’s no way around it—you have to also study the various cultures attached to that language.

Cecily Kemp, Class of 2017, B.A., Chinese and Sociology

At HLS, Cecily also enrolled in the Chinese Flagship Learning program, a U.S. government initiative to train students in strategically important languages. It’s an intense but rewarding program, and Cecily says she’s especially loved studying with the same cohort of Flagship students. Eight of her Flagship group came to Nanking University with her. “That was really reassuring,” Cecily says. But the presence of old friends didn’t keep her from making new ones. Cecily reports that she made lots of fresh connections in China, too, both with Chinese students and with other international students.

Language Flagship Centers

Supported by the U.S. government, the Language Flagship programs groom global professionals so that they become proficient in strategically important languages that are critical to U.S. economic competitiveness and national security.

HLS hosts three Language Flagship programs. You can study Arabic, Chinese, and Turkish. You’ll pursue a major in any of the HLS undergraduate degree programs. But as a Flagship student, you’ll gain professional fluency through classroom learning, extracurricular activities, and overseas study, plus opportunities to pursue a career in the U.S. government.