Foreign languages for law students

March 28, 2013

law school graduatesThree tips to learn, master, or keep up a second language.

Learning another language opens personal and professional opportunities. It’s great for preparing to study abroad, landing a possible job, or to taking a break from law school. For law students, it’s easier said than done. You’re busy with tons of other work. How do you find the time? You’re already busy with workbooks and citation exercises. Why burden yourself with more?

It doesn’t have to be so tough. Make learning a foreign language part of your leisure activities. That’ll keep it fun, in-tune with your interests, and keep you looking ahead for more. With your second language, consider doing three things:

Find a sports team to follow.
Soccer, the “world game,” has an amazing following. Clubs and superstars command the attention of millions. Use that to your advantage by picking a team and following its matches in the native language. Even a cursory interest will expose you to words like “Goal!” Hopefully you go further, though. Spanish soccer is wrapped up in culture, economics, and regional identity and is a good introduction to those issues.

Watch a movie with another language.
You already know your favorite movie line-by-line. How many words could you pick out in French or Spanish? Check out a DVD from your local library. Plenty of them have other languages available as audio and subtitle tracks. Once you become more fluent, try finding your favorite comedy movie or sitcom. Those are my favorite: it’s like hearing the same joke for the first time!

Sing a song.
A catchy tune is a catchy tune, no matter the language. The lyrics are often the only things that change. Look for pop artists like Beyoncé or Enrique Iglesias, musicals like Rent, or songs from your favorite childhood cartoons. You might start hearing only a few words. Be persistent! Like the “Think System” in the Music Man, you’ll be surprised what you pick up.

Keep your language learning fun and time-efficient. Make it a part of your sports, movies, and music. Besides, knowing a second language might help you land the legal job of your dreams.