I really enjoy languages! I think it's so cool how people developed and changed their ways to communicate throughout time, and I wonder whether it would be possible to keep track of all the languages spoken around the globe.
Some people that I've meet have the stereotype that "all the people from Europe speak multiple languages, and enjoy learning more of them". Sorry to spoil that for you, but that is not the case! I guess I'm not disproving this idea, but I know enough people who easily do. Whether a new language is a badge of honor, a school requirement or a survival need, people learn them for different reasons, and sometimes learning isn't even the hardest part!
For me, knowing many languages means mantaining them to the best of my ability, because skills can be easily lost.
Amherst College offers 9 languages, as far as I know, and I have been personally involved with 4 of them. Maybe 5... actually?
These are 4 ways to get involved with languages on (and off) campus (Spoiler: there are many other ways than that, but just bear with me):
1) Take a class!
Do you want to learn more about Modernism and its Discontents in German? Have you thought about learning French or Arabic? Did you want to know what are the opportunities to learn Japanese on campus? Then be bold and pick a language class for your next semester! From my personal experience, language classes at Amherst tend to be fairly small, and rather intensive, but they definitely bring a lot of joy. My German seminar from my first spring here was a very good pair to my quantititative classes, to the point of me wanting to take "Modernism and its Discontents" for this upcoming semester. Also, if you start taking a language, chances are you might even consider studying abroad in one of the countries it is spoken ;)
2) Get to know the LAs
For select languages, Amherst College hires Language Assistants, who are native speakers, students or recent students themselves, who come on campus for a year (or more). They will live in the Theme Houses correspondent to the language, and often help professors in teaching courses, by having their own conversation hours or tutoring students. Moreover, the LAs take classes alongside students, and participate in campus events. Similarely, if you want to study abroad, and there happen to be LAs from the country you're planning to go, they are a great resource for Q&As.
The Center for International Student Engagement puts on language-related activities as well, open to all students!
Yes, food and languages are closely tied. Language tables, Evening Language Tea Time in Theme Houses, Cultural Events, End of the Semester Parties: I will leave the food to speak for itself. And the best part of these gatherings is meeting people like yourself, who enjoy the language and the culture of the country or countries represented.
4)Teach a class!
If you (like me) are a native speaker of a foreign language, the Five-College Language Center may want to hire you, in order to pair you up with a conversation partner for a semester or more. I am currently teaching Romanian to a Five-College student, and it is a very rewarding activity, as I miss speaking the language to people geographically close to me (not just through Skype or Messenger).
Movies are also a great resource! (Spoiler alert 2: There is food and subtitles)
Additionally, you can take a class in the Five-College Consortium, study abroad for a semester or the summer, and many more.
Languages are great, and I am happy that Amherst helps me to keep speaking them.
Your Student Blogger,