Why Study a Language?

International Newsstand In Rome

The Romance languages have a rich history and vibrant present, as well as an exciting future.

They descend from Vulgar Latin, the tongue of soldiers, settlers, and slaves of the Roman Empire, distinct from the Latin of the Roman literati. They developed into dozens of distinct languages in the centuries that followed, and spread to other continents as part of the overseas empires of Renaissance Spain, Portugal, and France. As a result, while the Romance Languages have European roots and strong connections to cultures in that continent, more than two-thirds of contemporary speakers live outside Europe, mainly in Asia, Africa, and the Americas.

Over the years, each of the Romance languages has evolved to contribute to diverse, vibrant cultures that have produced some of the masterpieces of world literature.

Students in the Department gain proficiency in one or more of these forms of expression, and through their study, they enter into new and inexhaustibly rich traditions whose literature, art, music, and film have profoundly shaped our own. Many of our students spend significant time abroad, immersed in the languages and cultures they are studying.

Studying Romance languages brings undeniable practical advantages in an increasingly globalized economy.

Our graduates gain an in-depth knowledge and understanding of other languages and cultures that open up to a number of career opportunities, both in the United States and abroad. For this reason, many Notre Dame students opt to study French, Italian, Portuguese, or Spanish as a supplementary major or minor in addition to another field of study, such as business, history, philosophy, or political science.

The skills in communication and critical, interpretive, and creative thinking, as well as the broad experience and self-confidence in new environments that our program fosters, are invaluable to a variety of career paths, from business and law to medicine, education, and the arts. Our majors graduate not only with the satisfaction and skills that multilingualism affords, but also with a deeper understanding of other ways of life, and of their own lives as well.


Foreign languages: Good for your brain. Great for your career.