Foreign Languages at C2: What business leaders want in college grads!
Foreign language study promotes qualities business leaders seek in college graduates.
Problem solving: Business today is looking for "higher order applied problem-solving skills." This translates into the ability to identify problems and solve them, as well as the skills to recover and move on when experiments fail. An article from the Council of Independent Colleges Peter Ewell’s thesis states that business leaders want employees who are capable of "intellectual broken field running," defined by the following qualities. Foreign language training also builds these qualities.
Enthusiasm for life-long learning: Graduates who have studied foreign languages at the advanced level have a profound understanding of the “importance of continual training as a job requirement in today’s fast pace, competitive marketplace.” They have a clear sense that learning in any field is a life-long endeavor and have shown that they are willing to pursue long-term goals.
Responsibility: Employers want to hire graduates who come to them with a strong sense of responsibility for their actions in organizations and society. Students who take language courses at Columbia College experience first-hand the French & Spanish Program's strong commitment to social justice. Our curriculum is infused with ethical questions, women’s issues, and diversity on many levels. Dr. Corinne Mann-Morlet is not only our French professor but also head of Women's Studies.
Bridging cultures: Employers want employees who have the skills to bridge cultural differences. This is a different order of skill, Ewell argued, from simply understanding or having exposure to a diverse culture. Studying a foreign language moves you beyond simple exposure to facts about cultural differences, to food as culture, to a deep understanding of the notion of culture and how culture is inseparable from language. Study abroad is the ultimate experience in learning to bridge cultural differences; it promotes the ability to adapt, open-minded thinking, multiple ways of seeing issues or events, flexibility and confidence is one’s abilities to “get by” or “survive” when dropped into a new environment.
Communication skills: Even more important than the ability to write well is the need for employees to communicate and collaborate interpersonally, orally and in teams. Oral and written communication assignments are an integral part of all foreign language courses; generous support from the Pearce Center for Communication has helped faculty incorporate sound communication practices into the curriculum. Writing in Spanish and French at C2 enhances and reinforces what students are learning in English classes and across the disciplines.
Professionalism: Employers want employees who are inculcated with a well developed sense of professionalism on the job--or "sheer civility," as Ewell termed it. Even from the beginning levels of foreign language classes, students revisit the essentials of getting a message across and doing it politely. As they learn they become more cognizant of social rules in their native culture and more aware of how to effectively communicate in their first language.