Languages: Where will they take you...?

At Sheffield we offer many opportunities for our students to expand their horizons and develop their skills. We want our graduates to be culturally agile, flexible and able to take advantage of work and further study opportunities across the globe. Why not take advantage of the chance to improve your language skills and also expore the possibilities for study or work aborad?

In 2009 a Confederation of British Industry report stressed that UK firms competing in an increasingly globalised business environment place a high value on language skills. Many employers are seeking graduates who may not neccessarily have advanced linguisitc skills but who can communicate conversationally in the foreign language as this helps to 'break the ice' with potential business partners.

Develop new skills

Learning a foreign language enhances cultural awareness, stimulates creativity and innovation, and promotes flexibility and adaptability. It enables you to be a more effective and confident communicator whatever the situation.

Case Study - Thomas

Thomas, a politics graduate who studied Italian using unrestricted module choice and now works in Italy. He has seen many advantages to language studies: "It adds something extra to a degree and it does look fantastic on the CV... In an increasingly competitive labour market where most students graduate with similar grades, having the ability to speak, write and understand a second language to a good level can really make a difference."

75% of employers want their employess to have language skills (CBI / Edexcel Education and Skills Survey, 2008)

Case Study - Josh

Josh, a Chinese Studies graduate, worked for Sky News, CNN and CNBC in Beijing, moving to Hong Kong as Asia editor of 'beyondbrics, the 'Financial Times' emerging markets blog. His proficiency in Chinese and understanding of the region have been invaluable: "Being part of a small team covering the world's most interesting region is a lot of fun. And it is amazing how many people at the FT speak fluent Mandarin, Japanese or Cantonese!"

Multinational companies want multilingual recruits (Sunday Times 14/05/2008)

Case study - John

John, a first year PhD student in Mechanical Engineering, took Spanish modules and did fieldwork in South America during his MEng. His knowledge of Spanish is proving essential for his work. "In this age of ever increasing globalisation, learning a language gives you an appreciation of another culture and is the only way you can truly become a global engineer. During my PhD, knowing Spanish has allowed me to read papers published in Latin America, thereby gaining access to a wealth of new informaiton."

Speaking a second language gives a candidate the 'x-factor' and can boost earnings (National Centre for Languages Poll of 500 employers, 2010)

Case study - Annie

During a six-month stay in Bolivia as part of her modern languages degree, Annie saw first-hand the problems experienced by disadvantaged children. Their plight inspired her to launch a charity: "I found living with street kids to be a life-changing experience and knew I had to do something to help. I'm really pleased with what Friends of Alalay has achieved as many of these children might otherwise have been dead on the street by now, from solvent or alcohol abuse or starvation.

The year abroad is valuable in broadening work experience, social contacts and employability. It enables students to develop not only their language and cultural skills, but also key life skills of self-reliance and resourcefulness (The Nuffield Languages Inquiry)