There are many good reasons to study languages at A-Level. In this post, we look at all the positive reasons for studying languages, including the skills you'll learn, the travel opportunities, the career paths you can take and the business advantages.
If you’re good at grasping grammar, or have a curiosity about other cultures, you might want to consider studying languages at A-Level. Speaking more than one language, even if only to A-Level, can open doors for both study and work opportunities, and it’s seen as a valuable asset to many companies. Read on to learn more about the benefits that studying a language at A-Level can bring you.
Academic Benefits of Studying Languages at A-Level
Before the professional opportunities arrive, there are many academic benefits of learning a language at A-Level. Not only do languages enrich your global cultural knowledge, but they can also improve your comprehension and critical thinking skills – both of which are useful for many university courses.
What Skills Will I Get from Studying Languages at A-Level?
Learning any language at A-Level will help you gain competency in these four main areas:
Speaking – Being able to speak a second language will enable you to communicate with native speakers on a conversational level. You’ll also be able to give presentations and speeches in a professional context.
Listening – Studying a language will expose you to different speaking styles, accents, and dialects, not to mention helping you understand a second language when spoken at speed. With good aural skills, you’ll be able to watch films, tv shows and listen to music from many different countries.
Reading – Your comprehension skills will be improved through reading in different languages. You’ll be able to read new books, and understand newspapers and online news sites in another language.
Writing – Learning a language at A-Level will expand your vocabulary and improve your written style in your target language as well as your native language. You’ll develop the ability to write in many different formats, for example, emails, texts, essays – and you’ll be able to understand signs, alerts and public notices.
What Other Subjects Go With Languages?
Languages tend to pair well with arts-based subjects such as Music, Art and Design, and Art History, especially given France and Germany’s influences on such artistic disciplines.
Because you’ll learn a lot of historical and cultural information as part of your A-Level language course, you’ll find that languages go well with History or Philosophy – the latter being especially true given the number of historically prominent French philosophers.
Finally, although fairly obvious, if you plan on having a career in languages, then you should consider pairing several languages together at A-Level.
Gap Year and Travel Opportunities With Languages
Whether you decide to continue studying a language after your A-Levels or not, they will provide you with opportunities to travel and even take a gap year abroad. For example, South America is a very popular destination for gappers, and studying Spanish at A-Level opens up an entire continent for you to explore! Besides travelling, learning languages will also give you the chance to work abroad, for example during a ski season in France, where your language skills will be indispensable.
The cultural and historical knowledge that you’ll gain from studying languages at A-Level will enhance your travelling experience, and aid your university study, should you decide to continue onto higher education. Beyond your academic career, languages can open doors to various professional opportunities.
Business Advantages of Languages
In our globalised world, the ability to speak another language is seen as a huge asset to many, if not most, companies. As degrees are now more commonplace, any added skills that you can bring to the table will see you become a stronger contender for a job.
For example, Spanish is the second most widely spoken language in the world, with over 400 million speakers. The ability to reach so many potential clients will be seen as a massive advantage to a hiring company. Moreover, Germany is currently the USA’s largest trading partner, so studying German at A-Level could hugely benefit careers in exports.
If you have a desire to work abroad, or in a multinational company, language skills will be highly prized. In addition, with many UK companies wishing to maintain strong European relationships post-Brexit, languages will only continue to grow in importance.
Which Careers Use Languages?
The number of careers that will be open to you with your language skills is diverse. If you plan to actively use your languages in your career, here are some professions that you may want to consider:
Language Teacher or Tutor
If you’re interested in working with children or young people, then teaching or tutoring may be the career for you. You’ll need to have a degree in your chosen language, and then a postgraduate teaching qualification, but it can be a very rewarding career.
If your language skills develop enough for you to be considered bilingual (or even trilingual and beyond!) then you could consider working as a translator. This career path would allow you to work in many different fields, such a medical and legal translation, so the work would be varied. As a translator, you would generally be self-employed, and work on a contract basis for different companies.
Travel and Tourism
Languages give you a number of opportunities to travel in your professional career, especially in the tourism sector. The ability to speak more than one language is highly prized in careers such as airline crew, travel agents and holiday representatives.
If a career in sales or marketing sounds appealing, then your language skills will be highly beneficial. The Internet has opened up a global market for companies, and they are able to sell and market their products or services to any country in the world. This being the case, many marketing and sales job will require applicants to speak more than one language. Your multilingual skills could also open doors for a career in communications or PR.
For more information on why you should study languages, take a look at this video from the University of Birmingham: