In an increasingly interconnected world, more and more people are choosing to enhance their skills in either their own language or a foreign language in order to communicate effectively in a variety of settings. Many people choose online language degree programs, as they tend to be more flexible and sometimes less expensive than traditional college programs. These programs vary by the language they teach and the types of careers for which they provide training. Most online language degree programs lead to either an undergraduate or graduate degree, but some are non-accredited or certificate-only programs.
Online language degree programs are available in a variety of languages. In the United States, the most widely spoken languages include English, Spanish, Chinese and French, making these among the most popular choices for language degrees. One of the primary goals of any of these programs is to help students achieve native-like or near-native-like proficiency in the selected language.
A variety of careers are available to fluent speakers of various languages, and different online language degree programs will help prepare students for these careers in different ways. Some programs, for instance, specialize in written or spoken translation. Others focus on communication, international business or cultural studies.
Many programs focus on pedagogy, or teaching. Degrees in English with a specialization in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) or Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) prepare students to work with either adults or children who are learning English. Other online language degree programs might provide training in teaching other languages such as Spanish, usually in secondary schools.
The goal of most students in online language programs is to earn a degree, whether at the undergraduate or graduate level. Undergraduate programs often require liberal arts or general education courses in addition to language-specific courses, while graduate degrees usually do not. In addition to degree programs, some online schools offer certificate courses. These may prove a certain level of fluency in a given language. Other non-accredited programs are available online for those who want to improve their language proficiency but are not necessarily seeking degrees.