Foreign Language Offerings Flourish at Montclair State

In today’s increasingly global community, there are many benefits to being fluent in a foreign language. Study of a foreign language can lead to deeper awareness and understanding of other cultures, making it easier to connect and communicate with people of diverse backgrounds. Learning a foreign language can also enhance creativity, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. All of these factors may provide an edge in any career – not just teaching or translation, but business as well.

Fortunately for students interested in learning a new language, there’s no better place to do so than Montclair State. With its close proximity to metro New York City, the University is a gateway to the center of the world.

Opportunities at Montclair State

At Montclair State, students can explore other languages and cultures through a variety of academic programs. The University offers undergraduate majors and minors in Arabic, Chinese, Latin, French, German, Italian and Spanish, and minors in Greek, Portuguese and Russian. Hebrew classes are also available as part of the minor in Jewish American Studies. The Chinese, French and Japanese programs are growing in popularity, while the number of students studying German at Montclair State continues to outpace most other comparable programs across the country.

Combined with the opportunity to participate in study abroad programs at universities around the world, Montclair State language students can immerse themselves in the language and culture.

Before earning degrees in German and economics with a minor in math, John Costello ’16 studied abroad in Graz, Austria, during his junior year at the University. The experience made a significant impression on him.

"It was one of the best experiences of my life and opened several doors to new opportunities," says Costello. "During the following summer, I interned in the Saxon State Parliament, working with multiple departments of the administration and visiting the monthly plenary sessions."

Costello was awarded an English teaching assistantship by USTA Austria in 2016, coordinated by Fulbright Austria for the 2016-2017 academic year. He is currently living in Graz and teaching in area schools.

Students who choose not to study abroad can immerse themselves in various world cultures right here in the tri-state area. According to the U.S. Census, from 2011 to 2015, more than 21 percent of New Jersey’s population was foreign-born, with the state home to significant Asian and Hispanic communities. Nearby, New York City is known for its various ethnic neighborhoods, where residents speak their native tongue and the foods and entertainment of their homeland are often readily available, making for an interesting trip that is both a short train ride – and a world away – from Montclair State.

Added to that, the University’s language programs offer a robust learning community, with regular events designed to enrich the lives and academics of not just the students in the programs, but all members of the campus community.

A major for modern times

Demonstrating its ability to evolve and address the educational needs of the population, in fall 2016, the University expanded its modern language offerings with the addition of a bachelor’s degree in Arabic. While an Arabic minor was already offered, the addition of the major makes Montclair State the first and only college in New Jersey to offer a BA in Arabic. Several students who previously graduated with a minor in Arabic have returned to the University to complete the requirements for the major. Two students will graduate in May with Arabic as a second major.

Real value in the real world

In a 2015 article in The Washington Post, Kristen Brecht-Baker, the founder of Global Professional Search, shared her thoughts on the importance of Americans learning a second language, saying that many organizations are in danger of needing to recruit employees internationally because not enough time and money are being invested in language education. "It can’t just be about specialization [in engineering or medicine or technology] anymore," Brecht-Baker told The Washington Post. "They have to communicate in the language."

This has certainly been true for Montclair State alumnus Jeff Sell ’15. Sell graduated with a minor in Chinese and currently works as a software engineer. He has translated some of his company’s interfaces into Chinese, which helped win over his company’s Chinese business partner.

Interested in studying a foreign language? Learn more about Montclair State’s offerings through the College of Humanities and Social Sciences’ Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, Spanish and Italian Department and Classics and General Humanities Department