Good news for language programmes: enrolment records show that more students are choosing to study languages, literature and culture at Ghent University, after a number of years of declining interest in the subjects.
Last year, newspapers painted an alarming picture of the declining popularity of language programmes among students. At the start of the current academic year, we see a slight reversal in that trend: once again, more first-time bachelor students have enrolled at the Faculty of Arts and Philosophy at Ghent University compared to the previous year.
Which programmes are on the rise?
Linguistics and Literature and Applied Language Studies, especially, have attracted a large number of students. Study programmes such as African Languages and Cultures and Eastern European Languages and Cultures have also garnered more enrolments this year. Oriental Languages and Cultures is the only study programme that has seen a slight decrease in enrolments.
Why are they choosing language studies?
Professor of Dutch Literature Lars Bernaerts emphasises the importance of the rise in popularity: “We hope that this signals a trend reversal because society and education are in dire need of people that have a background in languages. We look forward to training new generations to become critical and proficient experts in languages, literatures and cultures.”
Language studies are about so much more than just working on your language proficiency. You also learn about history, culture, literature and you graduate with a broadly applicable skillset. Learning a language opens doors: any number of possibilities become available to you afterwards. Many graduates find a job in education, at a communications department at a(n) (international) company, in the cultural sector, as a translator or interpreter, or start working at media companies as a journalist, editor, digital marketeer, …
These students share why they’re so enthusiastic about language studies:
Bauke Deschodt, a student in Applied Language Studies (Dutch, French, German):
“Languages fascinate me. Not only because of pronunciation or grammar, but also the history and culture that accompanies them. I chose Dutch, French and German because they’re the three national languages of Belgium. French and German are completely different languages, but I find them equally intriguing.”
Jakob Bogaert, student of Linguistics and Literature (French & Spanish):
“Languages are important, and you can use them in any job. Personally, I’m most interested in the link with communication. I chose French and Spanish because they seem like a great challenge to learn.
Mathias Svacina, student of Applied Language Studies (Dutch, French, German):
“I’m from a multilingual family: my dad’s of German descent, but my family also has Czech roots. This is why I’ve always been fascinated by languages: if you have a good knowledge of languages, the world’s your oyster. I love French, especially: it’s such a beautiful language.”
Four alumni look back on their education and the direction they eventually took. What started on the same road led to other places. Alexander, Nikki, Bart and Eline all studied applied language studies. The passion for languages is still there, but each of them expresses it in a different way in their jobs.
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