Years ago, college foreign language classes barely ranged beyond French, German and Spanish.
But these days the world is becoming ever-easier to travel and communication between different countries is crucial, so it makes sense that colleges have expanded their foreign language offerings.
With languages from countries all over the globe being included in the foreign language curricula of colleges across the country, students can now study foreign languages from Mandarin to Creole without ever going abroad. And what’s more, knowing a foreign language is a useful skill that will look great on a resume.
Swahili is an important African language, but it can’t be found on every college campus. Universities and colleges with well-established African studies programs are more likely to offer Swahili coursework.
American University, Stanford University and Northwestern University all teach Swahili. Michigan State University also offers Swahili instruction – as well as an intensive summer immersion program abroad in Tanzania, where Swahili is a major language.
Catalan, largely spoken in the Catalonia region of Spain, is definitely not one of the most common foreign languages offered by colleges.
However, even this off-the-beaten-path choice can be learned at North American institutions of higher education. Columbia University and Stanford University are two schools that offer Catalan language and culture studies.
Serbo-Croatian is one of the foreign languages you’ll find at a college with a good Slavic studies department. Columbia University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Indiana University Bloomington are all worth looking into if learning Serbo-Croatian is your goal.
Bloomington also offers intensive summer workshops in a variety of Slavic, East European and Central Asian languages, with language courses that run the gamut from Yiddish to Georgian, Azerbaijani, Turkmen and more!
Hindi is one of the foreign languages that, like Mandarin and Arabic, is likely to become increasingly significant in the future.
If you want to learn Hindi, you should consider applying to colleges like Duke University, Syracuse University, New York University and Johns Hopkins University.
If you want to learn Macedonian, you don’t have to travel all the way to Macedonia — though there are study abroad programs available that provide full immersion in the country’s language and culture.
One notable college with Macedonian language offerings within North American borders is Canada’s University of Toronto.
Haitian Creole might not seem like one of the most pressingly urgent foreign languages to learn, but you’d be surprised to find how many colleges offer courses in it! Indiana University, the University of Massachusetts in Boston and the University of Florida all offer Haitian Creole among their foreign language classes.
Beware of the differences in Creole when searching for a program: York University in Canada, for instance, offers Jamaican Creole!
Reykjavik might seem like a world away, but there you don’t need to fly across the Atlantic to learn Icelandic — you can study this foreign language in college right here in North America. Then you can impress your friends by properly pronouncing words like Eyjafjallajökull — the famous Icelandic volcano.
If you want to make learning Icelandic your goal, the University of Manitoba should be on your list.
Students of Columbia, Cornell and Yale are being afforded the incredible opportunity to learn rare languages like Nahuatl (the Aztec language). The three Ivies are teaming up to offer small classes via videoconferencing.
Competition to take these classes is likely to be fierce — only 12 students are admitted into each class, even though all three universities are eligible.
Other Languages, Other Schools
No matter what foreign languages you are interested in learning, odds are that you can find a college with a great language program. If you can’t find anything in your area, distance learning is another option.
For many people, learning a foreign language is one of the most fun parts of college. If there are foreign languages you want to learn, you should definitely pursue that goal.