Second Language

Why does CLA require students pursuing a BA or BIS degree to study the equivalent of 2 years of a foreign language?

Foreign languages are a foundation of liberal education. Having a liberal education means being: 

  • globally aware
  • culturally sensitive
  • an informed and knowledgeable world citizen
  • an articulate oral and written communicator

Only 9% of US citizens speak both their native language and another language fluently. Compare this with 50% of Europeans and a large percentage of Latin Americans who are fully bilingual. As a student at the University of Minnesota, you have the unique opportunity to stand out as you step into a world of 7 billion global neighbors, even at home in Minnesota—over 90 different languages are spoken by students in Minneapolis and Saint Paul public schools alone.

Knowledge of a second language makes you more competitive when looking for jobs or applying to graduate schools. And with 1 in 6 US jobs being tied to international trade, the demand for language skills and international expertise in the arts, social services, sciences, business, education, military, law, and government is increasing. Studying a language increases communication skills and intercultural competency—how you are able to work effectively with people of different cultures.

Contact with other languages and cultures lets you participate in a global conversation, step outside your familiar scope of existence, and view your culture's customs, traditions, and norms as well as your own value system through the eyes of others. And you’ll actually be able to participate in the conversation!

Studying a second language allows you to:

  • connect with family history, traditions, and cultural heritage
  • understand your first language more deeply
  • improve your writing/communication
  • develop new perspectives on your studies
  • appreciate what it takes to learn a language with attuned cultural sensitivity
  • pave the path to learning new languages
  • open up doors to learning abroad or traveling overseas

CLA offers a variety of resources to help you acheive your language goals and put your skills to work. Feel free to browse FAQs for any concerns or common questions that you may have regarding the second language requirement.

You can fulfill the second language requirement with any of the following languages.

* indicates availability of The Language Proficiency Exam (LPE).

You may also study the following languages, but there is no fourth-semester course offered at the University of Minnesota; in order to satisfy the second language requirement you would need to take additional courses through another institution.