jeminite
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My mum is under the impression that doing a degree in Chinese and Japanese is a waste, and thinks the only jobs I can get are being a teacher or translator etc. She thinks history or a more "respectable" humanities degree is better.

People who have done a language degree:
- what language(s) did you study?
- Has your degree been viewed as respectable by employers?
- What jobs have you done?
- If you could choose your degree again, would you still choose to study languages?
- Would you say a different humanities degree would be more useful (except law I guess since it's vocational)?

For context I have done History, Politics and French at A Level and right now I am thinking of working for the Foreign Office in the future.
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username4310824
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Not going to be much help as I'm only a first year languages student but I really don't understand your mum's viewpoint. A languages degree has all the benefits of any other humanities degree as you won't only be studying the language, but also history, literature, politics etc. and will also provide you with an extra skill set (foreign language proficiency) that's highly valuable to employers.

Most graduate roles don't really care what degree you do either. You'll have the same amount of jobs open to you (possibly more) with a languages degree as you would with a history degree.

Go with what you enjoy. Don't let your mum control your decision.
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ZZMoopies9
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Earlier this year I was in the same mindset as your mother, despite having studied Japanese for a long time.

To cut a long story short, I did a bunch of research and got offered a place on a Japanese studies degree

-> my number one tip is, make sure you want to do Chinese with Japanese.
My friend who has graduated from this degree said she only had three students in her year and one dropped out to do something else.
If you’ve never had any experience with either language before I’d recommend taking a starter course to see if you like them. You do tend to get the readings confused sometimes esp when the characters for both look similar.

2) there’s more than just being a translator or teacher. I’m assuming your degree with have culture and society modules too. This’ll give you a view into the culture and politics of those countries. Graduates from my uni have gone on to work in government, work abroad for international businesses like Toyota, etc. The world is your oyster as long as you put the effort in. The question is, what do YOU want to do? Do you just want the degree because you’re interested in Asia or is there something more specific about the region you like.

3) from what I’ve seen employers do value employees with language skills but, in the case of a degree, it won’t stand out much against other degrees unless the employer is looking for someone who can speak another language. For example, if you were applying for an admin role it wouldn’t matter, but might make you stand out more if you were going for a government role.

4) a degree is as useful as you make it. Yeah, law could be more useful, if you put the effort in you could become a lawyer. But do you want to be a lawyer? A degree is 3+ years of hard work, don’t make it harder for yourself by choosing something you don’t like.

A language degree is, as said above, as useful as you make it. Businesses are constantly looking to expand into new markets. China and Japan are the second and third largest world economies respectively. There are jobs there, but you have to decide where you want to work.

Hope I’ve helped in some way I’m going to be doing what you’re doing but reversed (Japanese with chinese). All I can say is make sure this is what you really want to do. And if it is, what part of it? The language? The history? Etc. Maybe buy a reputable book about the history of both countries and take a deeper look.

Goodluck!
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jeminite
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Thanks! That's exactly what I told her but she just doesn't think language degrees "sound" as good as other degrees :/
(Original post by MinaBee)
Not going to be much help as I'm only a first year languages student but I really don't understand your mum's viewpoint. A languages degree has all the benefits of any other humanities degree as you won't only be studying the language, but also history, literature, politics etc. and will also provide you with an extra skill set (foreign language proficiency) that's highly valuable to employers.

Most graduate roles don't really care what degree you do either. You'll have the same amount of jobs open to you (possibly more) with a languages degree as you would with a history degree.

Go with what you enjoy. Don't let your mum control your decision.
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jeminite
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Thank you! Yeah I've done a course on basic Japanese and I'm looking into Chinese more now. I've read history books on both of them and done an EPQ (Extended Project Qualification) on the links between the two countries. I know it will be very tough but I'm committed to learning both Yeah it will have other cultural modules. Personally, I want to work abroad or with other countries. As I said I'm looking into working with the foreign office so I think this degree is useful for that. But my mum is concerned that if that doesn't work out then I'll have poor opportunities because for other jobs people with a different degree will stand out more. My preference wouldn't be to work in business, but I don't completely hate the idea. Anyways, thanks for your answer, it's cool to see other people with the same interests.
(Original post by ZZMoopies9)
Earlier this year I was in the same mindset as your mother, despite having studied Japanese for a long time.

To cut a long story short, I did a bunch of research and got offered a place on a Japanese studies degree

-> my number one tip is, make sure you want to do Chinese with Japanese.
My friend who has graduated from this degree said she only had three students in her year and one dropped out to do something else.
If you’ve never had any experience with either language before I’d recommend taking a starter course to see if you like them. You do tend to get the readings confused sometimes esp when the characters for both look similar.

2) there’s more than just being a translator or teacher. I’m assuming your degree with have culture and society modules too. This’ll give you a view into the culture and politics of those countries. Graduates from my uni have gone on to work in government, work abroad for international businesses like Toyota, etc. The world is your oyster as long as you put the effort in. The question is, what do YOU want to do? Do you just want the degree because you’re interested in Asia or is there something more specific about the region you like.

3) from what I’ve seen employers do value employees with language skills but, in the case of a degree, it won’t stand out much against other degrees unless the employer is looking for someone who can speak another language. For example, if you were applying for an admin role it wouldn’t matter, but might make you stand out more if you were going for a government role.

4) a degree is as useful as you make it. Yeah, law could be more useful, if you put the effort in you could become a lawyer. But do you want to be a lawyer? A degree is 3+ years of hard work, don’t make it harder for yourself by choosing something you don’t like.

A language degree is, as said above, as useful as you make it. Businesses are constantly looking to expand into new markets. China and Japan are the second and third largest world economies respectively. There are jobs there, but you have to decide where you want to work.

Hope I’ve helped in some way I’m going to be doing what you’re doing but reversed (Japanese with chinese). All I can say is make sure this is what you really want to do. And if it is, what part of it? The language? The history? Etc. Maybe buy a reputable book about the history of both countries and take a deeper look.

Goodluck!
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ZZMoopies9
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(Original post by jeminite)
Thank you! Yeah I've done a course on basic Japanese and I'm looking into Chinese more now. I've read history books on both of them and done an EPQ (Extended Project Qualification) on the links between the two countries. I know it will be very tough but I'm committed to learning both Yeah it will have other cultural modules. Personally, I want to work abroad or with other countries. As I said I'm looking into working with the foreign office so I think this degree is useful for that. But my mum is concerned that if that doesn't work out then I'll have poor opportunities because for other jobs people with a different degree will stand out more. My preference wouldn't be to work in business, but I don't completely hate the idea. Anyways, thanks for your answer, it's cool to see other people with the same interests.
If you want to practise either just send me a PM
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qwertyuiop1993
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Ask your mum why she thinks spending three years studying history and writing essays is better than spending 4 years learning valuable language skills as well as learning critical writing/thinking skills that you get from other humanities degrees as well as getting a year abroad during which you can get valuable work experience. Doesn't add up to me?

Most graduate roles aren't degree specific: most of the linguists in my year are now lawyers, bankers, civil servants, management consultants, accountants, teachers, interpreters, translators. I'd say a lot of them don't do anything specifically to do with languages.

Do what you enjoy at university but be proactive about your future and you'll do well.

(Original post by jeminite)
My mum is under the impression that doing a degree in Chinese and Japanese is a waste, and thinks the only jobs I can get are being a teacher or translator etc. She thinks history or a more "respectable" humanities degree is better.

People who have done a language degree:
- what language(s) did you study?
- Has your degree been viewed as respectable by employers?
- What jobs have you done?
- If you could choose your degree again, would you still choose to study languages?
- Would you say a different humanities degree would be more useful (except law I guess since it's vocational)?

For context I have done History, Politics and French at A Level and right now I am thinking of working for the Foreign Office in the future.
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Xarao
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Completely agree with your mum. Are you seriously spending 3-4 years of 60k debt to learn a language when you can do it yourself for far less, or even free?
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jeminite
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Okay thanks. yeah most people don't realise you don't just do language but you do lots of other things too.
(Original post by qwertyuiop1993)
Ask your mum why she thinks spending three years studying history and writing essays is better than spending 4 years learning valuable language skills as well as learning critical writing/thinking skills that you get from other humanities degrees as well as getting a year abroad during which you can get valuable work experience. Doesn't add up to me?

Most graduate roles aren't degree specific: most of the linguists in my year are now lawyers, bankers, civil servants, management consultants, accountants, teachers, interpreters, translators. I'd say a lot of them don't do anything specifically to do with languages.

Do what you enjoy at university but be proactive about your future and you'll do well.
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jeminite
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You do realise that learning the language isn't all you do for those 4 years. It's like saying why spend 60k to study history when you can just read some history books. You learn the same skills as any other humanities degree as you not only learn a language but you learn and write essays on history, politics, religion, literature and possibly international relations. The only difference is that these are all focused on the country / countries where the language you learn is spoken. Now you know that I'm interested to know why you think any other humanities degree is any better, because I want to see it from my mum's perspective but I can't see how that argument makes sense. Also it would take me much longer than 4 or 5 years to learn Chinese AND Japanese to the level I will with a degree if I am doing it myself, given how difficult these languages are for english speakers.
(Original post by Xarao)
Completely agree with your mum. Are you seriously spending 3-4 years of 60k debt to learn a language when you can do it yourself for far less, or even free?
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username4310824
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(Original post by Xarao)
Completely agree with your mum. Are you seriously spending 3-4 years of 60k debt to learn a language when you can do it yourself for far less, or even free?
Not really a proper argument. You could say the same thing for most degrees.
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Xarao
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(Original post by MinaBee)
Not really a proper argument. You could say the same thing for most degrees.
I agree.
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Quick-use
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(Original post by jeminite)
My mum is under the impression that doing a degree in Chinese and Japanese is a waste, and thinks the only jobs I can get are being a teacher or translator etc. She thinks history or a more "respectable" humanities degree is better.

People who have done a language degree:
- what language(s) did you study?
- Has your degree been viewed as respectable by employers?
- What jobs have you done?
- If you could choose your degree again, would you still choose to study languages?
- Would you say a different humanities degree would be more useful (except law I guess since it's vocational)?

For context I have done History, Politics and French at A Level and right now I am thinking of working for the Foreign Office in the future.
I think I've already answered a post like this before. But, I'm always happy to answer threads related to languages, so here we go again! :fluffy:

  1. I did French, Spanish and Japanese
  2. My degree has been viewed extremely respectable by all of my past and present employers.
  3. I've literally secured all of my jobs during and after my degree thanks to my degree/proficiency in languages/sensitivity to other cultures.

    During university, I worked at my university (University of Edinburgh) in its English department for foreign students. I worked as a 'Course Mentor' for courses like Medical English, Economics in English and Academic English with university students from Hong Kong, China and Japan on short exchanges at the university. I worked with the students from the aforementioned backgrounds due to my language capabilities in Japanese and my sensitive understanding of East Asian society. Many of my colleagues worked with international postgraduate students at the university who were required to improve their level of English before embarking on their Master's degree at Edinburgh. What is a 'Course Mentor'? Basically, I was an assistant within the seminars/tutorials - so, after the tutor would explain everything to everyone, I'd go and help them carry out their work. I was also akin to a confidant for the students and, although I had no formal training, I helped with pastoral care, especially with students who were having a tough time overseas or with personal issues. I also acted as a personal chaperone/guide/interpreter for the students during their time in Edinburgh - I was paid to take them around the city for all of their social activities throughout the entirety of their stay. I was able to do this job every summer for 3 years while at Edinburgh.

    After graduating, I got a job in Tokyo to work with business and medical professionals in relation to translation work. This job is pretty self-explanatory.

    I'm currently back in the UK studying again but I have two part time jobs. One is where I work as a proctor for the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) exams. I only do this twice a year but the pay is pretty awesome and I doubt I would've been able to do this unless I had a very good level of Japanese. I first did it as an invigilator but I've since been promoted to a proctor of an exam! :fluffy:

    My second part-time job is again a summer-based one. I work with Edinburgh College with their exchange students, specifically Japanese high school students. I'm the 'Social Program Assistant' which basically means that I am a chaperone/guide/interpreter for the 30 Japanese high school students and their two teachers during their month-long stay in Edinburgh. I attend all of their scheduled social activities including bus tours, visit to Inverness and the Military Tattoo in Edinburgh.
  4. If I were to do another undergraduate degree, I probably wouldn't do the same degree. When I first applied, I had no direction apart from the fact that I loved languages, literature, philosophy and the prospect of going overseas. That's why, I did my subjects. I'm actually intending on doing a Master's in International Relations because that's the academic field I want to pursue (if I do a PhD) and I'm considering applying for the JET CIR position as well as the British Diplomatic Service. If I did do another degree, I might do Economics and Chinese Mandarin or PPE. I'm insanely interested in those areas - I would love to study economics and I really did enjoy my East Asian history lectures/tutorials that focused on China. If I could go back in time, would I study the same degree? I probably would've, but in an ideal world I actually would've LOVED to have been able to study Japanese and Chinese Mandarin. Consider yourself lucky!
  5. I would not say that a different humanities degree would be more useful. Not at all. It all depends on what you want to do and what your aim is. If you have no specific aim, then do what you want to do now. If that's 2 languages, go for it. If you want to study IR or Economics or whatever, then do those + a language if you want to. It's a shame that your mother and potentially your friends and teachers do not respect languages as a degree. I truly do believe that language degrees are some of the most prestigious and difficult within the context of the arts and humanities.
As an aside, I always changed the career I wanted to pursue. During my GCSEs etc, I wanted to become a Lawyer or an Actuary. During my A levels, I was set on being a journalist. During my first year of university, I wanted to be an interpreter for the United Nations. During the later years of university, I absolutely had no idea. After graduating and after working in Japan, I've decided that I would love to either work as an academic/lecturer at a university or within a diplomatic capacity somewhere.

Languages truly do open up so many doors. You have absolutely nothing to worry about. In fact, it's your peers at school who should be worried about what their future entails.
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Quick-use
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(Original post by Xarao)
Completely agree with your mum. Are you seriously spending 3-4 years of 60k debt to learn a language when you can do it yourself for far less, or even free?
And, another one of these comments. I'm going to copy/paste what I said to someone else on a different thread who held an equally naive view as you.

First of all, a languages degree isn't just studying a language. It 1) helps you become extremely advanced in all aspects of the language/s in question (speaking, writing, reading and listening) and 2) provides you with an advanced knowledge of the country's social, political and economic issues (contemporary and historical).

I had several friends who learned languages in their spare time without doing a degree in them and even if they were able to attain a decent level of proficiency in the language, they couldn't even come close to the levels of myself or my peers.

When you study a languages degree, you don't just study the language - the language will just be 50% of your studies whereas the other 50% will be focused on whatever your university department specialises in. For example, within the context of the University of Edinburgh's Japanese, Hispanic and Francophone departments, during my undergraduate degree I took various modules on Japan-China foreign policy, East Asian (Japan, China and Korean) economies and politics, Japanese communist politics in the 1960s, French immigration laws, French medieval literature, French post-modern philosophy and politics, Spanish journalism and contemporary Hispanic film and literature etc. What's more, regarding the language component of our degrees, there were modules consisting of writing newspaper articles as well as translations to and fro of dense political documents, medical documents, historical religious documents, both classical and contemporary literary texts and journalistic articles among many others.

As students of languages degrees, we were continuously immersed in the language - all of my lectures on medieval Spanish literature or French post-modern politics, for example, were conducted in their respective languages and all of my essays (3000+) were written and researched in the languages. People write dissertations in foreign languages which have to be of equal standard of one written in English. We had to solely speak in the foreign language during all of my tutorials. The type of translations I did into the foreign language on extremely dense political dossiers or newspaper articles concerning murder crime truly cemented my knowledge of the language within various fields, be it economics, politics, crime or philosophy.

During my year abroad studying in Tokyo, I undertook extremely intensive 3 hour-long Japanese language classes from 9.15am to 12.30pm with tests and homework everyday 5 days a week for 1 semester. In my 2nd semester, I was in regular classes with Japanese students for lectures and tutorials on courses like modern Japanese literature or American Victorian literature, politics and philosophy all of which were conducted in Japanese. Each lecture/tutorial was 1 hour 30 minutes long of just constant non-stop extremely advanced Japanese and all of the course material/secondary reading (on Darwinism, for example) was in Japanese and most of the novels I read for my Modern Japanese Lit class had never been translated before so I was reading around 2 dense novels on a weekly basis. I also had to write weekly essays for each subject in Japanese of about 1500 words long, never mind the end of term essay for each course that was triple the length. Even all of my exams were in Japanese where I had to write essays on Social Darwinism or discuss how examples of some modern Japanese texts were political critiques of the Second World War and the Japanese regime at the time.

That said, even though I do think people can attain a good level of a language by studying it in their own time, it doesn't at all compare to a languages degree where a student will be extremely competent in all aspects of the language within the context of politics, history and literature etc as well as being knowledgeable of very advanced social, political and economic issues, both contemporary and historical, pertaining to the country where the language in question is spoken.

Therefore, no - you're not spending £60k just to learn a language. The same rhetoric could be applied to almost all other degrees including Mathematics, History and Economics. In fact, you could argue that the aforementioned subjects would be much easier to self-learn. I wonder if you or the average person who's just finished high school could learn Japanese for free or access its economic and historical sources which have yet to be translated. How far would you get in 4 years' time? I've seen certain YouTubers claim to be 'fluent' in Japanese after self-studying, but as someone who speaks it at an advanced level, I'd say that they wouldn't be able to even reach fluency in over a decade. I even have dozens of acquaintances who've lived in Japan for decades and now have families - yet, they can't speak a lick of Japanese, apart from the occasional '1 beer, please'.
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