The announcement of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2014–2015 reports that students care deeply about a university or college’s ability to provide real-world links and put students closer to business and industry—and ultimately, employability. An institution can take many approaches to help students build valuable skills and make those important connections. One strategy might be the provision of sector-specific foreign language training.
Employers Big and Small
According to a roundtable hosted by the Guardian and British Academy in association with the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, “employers [are] now looking for languages from all levels of employee,” and bilingual candidates are simply “ahead of the game,” as Nigel Vincent, the British Academy’s vice-president for research and higher education policy, says. Graduates with strong foreign language skills are connecting with business and industry before they even walk through the door for the interview. Being able to list proficiency in another language might make the difference between the delete button and a phone call. Furthermore, the roundtable notes that foreign language ability has “important implications for politics and security as well as business.” It doesn’t get any more real world than that.
How can higher ed institutions provide students with comprehensive language training that clearly connects them to their future careers? The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine (UPSOM) asked this very question and came away with a practical solution. Due to the increase of the Spanish-speaking population, UPSOM decided to help medical students gain proficiency in Spanish with Rosetta Stone® Version 3®. Clear communication with patients is integral to quality medical care, and now more UPSOM students go into clinical fieldwork prepared to communicate with Spanish-speaking patients. With a blended learning approach, UPSOM has structured the program to maximize student learning, utilizing the Rosetta Stone solution to build or refresh language skills and class time to develop language skills specific to the medical practice. UPSOM even provides medical students with access to Rosetta Stone programs prior to the start of their clinical fieldwork. This way, students can start specialized, career-specific language training on day one.
Do your students show an interest in real-world language application? What is your institution doing to connect students to the specific businesses and industries they hope to join? Describe the language-learning landscape at your institution, or share this article with a colleague invested in increasing the employability of graduates.