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Why Study Asian Languages and Cultures?

The Department of Asian Languages and Cultures affords undergraduates the opportunity to explore a single Asian culture in depth or to compare traditions across Asia, and consider them in relation to those of other regions, both within and outside the Asian continent.

We welcome all students. Those who are drawn to the humanities will find how rewarding the pursuit of an interdisciplinary understanding of both pre-modern and modern Asian societies in their varied cultural expressions and manifestations can be.

At the same time, social-science and business-oriented students will benefit from the opportunity to expand their experience of human social behavior while science majors and engineers will be better prepared for the global nature of contemporary research.

Literature (including the various genres of poetry, fiction, theater, graphic novels, film, anime, and television) often provides one of the most significant venues through which students encounter a different culture. By engaging with an Asian culture’s words and images, whether in the original or in translation, students quickly gain privileged access to new worlds.

There are over 7,000 spoken languages in the world, but half of the world population speaks only 10! Mandarin-Chinese is the world’s most commonly spoken language, while Hindi-Udru, Japanese, and Korean all rank in the top 20. In fact, 75% of the world population does not even speak one single word of English.

It is undeniable that studying Asian languages for native English speakers, especially at the beginning, may be quite challenging and at times daunting. Once they grasp the basic rules and writing system, however, even beginners will find that their learning progresses at an even pace.

Whether one chooses to study Asian languages and cultures in depth, or simply in order to fill a college requirement, research shows that studying a second language, paired with a post-college career path, translates into an significant increase in earning power.

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