i The Value of International Education and Languages | COLLEGE WRITING: DEBATE(S) IN HIGHER EDCUATION

Shiela Mae Holder

Colleges and universities around the world are focusing on international education to prepare students to live in a close-knit global community. Not only do many college students move to a different country to live and work but even those who stay in their own country are likely to be connected with people and businesses in other countries.  The world is truly becoming a smaller and interconnected place where people no longer interact only with local people. Right now, technology connects people from different countries around the world. It would be beneficial for any company to connect their business to companies in other countries, because then they can distribute widely their products. Most businesses, in fact, have customers and suppliers from different countries. This is a product of the global economy. People who work in a company that has international connections often have to visit other countries, so they need to be prepared for that.  For all of these reasons, the focus on international education and the study of foreign languages should continue to expand in the twenty first century. Through international education, students have an opportunity to increase their skills in international communication and to develop cross-cultural understanding.

The value of international education applies to me personally. I want an education that I can use in many different countries because, sometime in the near future, when my husband retires, I plan to live outside the United States. That’s why I want a focus on international education in my college curriculum. For me, English is a foreign language. That is the number one reason why I’m studying here in the United States. After my college degree here at St. Norbert, I plan to work for a few years here in United States. After that, when I am living in another country I expect to work there, too. In my own experience it is a really good opportunity to study outside the Philippines because I get a chance to meet people from different countries.  Already, I have made friends and learned about different cultural values. This shows that international education enhances a student’s positive outlook towards diversity. So, the knowledge and skills that I have learned in college will be useful to me in another country where I will live and work.  I know that my education at St. Norbert College will meet the goals of international education.

Students should learn multiple languages so they can communicate more effectively with people from other countries. Even here at St. Norbert College there are many students who come from other countries and speak other languages.  These students come from countries such as: Japan, China, Vietnam, Germany, Philippines, and Saudi Arabia. They come and study here because they know that learning multiple languages can help them to find work someday, communicate to other people from different countries, and live in different parts of the world.

Colleges should encourage students to study abroad so it enhances their experience and knowledge about the cultures of different countries. In countries where English is not the first language, for example in my country the Philippines, study abroad is very important because strong English language skills allow students to communicate with other people from different countries. For some students, study abroad might mean only having fun in a different culture. But for the more serious students, including me, study abroad opens one’s horizons and makes that person become independent and mature. It is good for students to study in other countries because they can use this knowledge to get a better job in a business that has international dimensions. So, that is why students need to study abroad so they can most effectively learn foreign languages and about the cultures of other countries.

In the Philippines, companies prefer to hire people that have strong foreign language skills. Call centers in the Philippines are businesses that handle incoming calls for other businesses that are located mainly in the United States and Europe. For example, Time Warner Cable is an American television provider, but if you call that company from here in United State chances are you will be talking to someone at a call center in the Philippines. For example, call centers hire people who have a college degree and also have the ability to communicate with other people from different countries. One of my friends is a call center agent in the Philippines. She speaks English very well and when she talks on the phone with different people outside the Philippines she uses many accents because she needs to pretend that she is in the country of the person she is talking to.

Also, many people want to live in a different place in their future. That is why they need to know the language of the country where they are planning to live.  Students should value international education because it exposes them to other traditions and the sources of ideas and values that pervade the society that they are visiting. Also when a person is applying for a job in a different country, it helps to have a better understanding of the people in that country. International education should involve the study of the geography, history, literature, and languages of other countries. At St. Norbert, a student is only required to take two semesters of a foreign language and a single course in the Beyond Borders area of the Core Curriculum.  In my view, this is insufficient preparation. One program that could be expanded to meet international education goals would be political science. Political science can help students to understand global issues that are faced by today’s generation. Also, it is important for students to have knowledge of the laws and policies of different governments.  In this way, international education should be expanded at colleges and universities like St. Norbert to help a person build that understanding.

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