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Modern Languages and Classics

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Home - Why Learn Languages?

In the world today, there are …

(Source:  Lewis, M. Paul, Gary F. Simons, and Charles D. Fennig (eds.). 2016. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Nineteenth edition. Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Online version:

 Is one language more useful to learn than another?

All languages are useful in today’s global economy. U.S. businesses are expanding around the globe, and scientists increasingly work on multi-national projects. The choice of language(s) is yours, and is determined by your interests. Once you are competent in a second language, it is much easier to learn a third or fourth, so you can always add another language. While Latin is no longer spoken a language, gaining knowledge of how it functions gives you a better understanding of English, French, German and Spanish grammar and vocabulary.

Is one language easier than another?

All languages have their “easy” and “difficult” parts. The key to success is to use the language of your choice and immerse yourself in it as much as possible.

What if I am the person who cannot learn languages?

Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. But remember that you have learned one language, so you know how language works. You can therefore learn another.

Why would I need to know another language?

As of 2010, more than 40 million people residing in the U.S. were born in another country (source, , and according to the Center for Immigration Studies, one in five speaks language other than English at home (Karen Ziegler, Stephen A. Camarota, October 2014, One in Five U.S. Residents Speaks Foreign Language at Home, Record 61.8 million, The U.S. is also one of the premiere tourist destinations for travelers from around the world. Finally, growing expansion of US businesses abroad and foreign investments within the U.S. spell job opportunities for those who can communicate in more than one language. Even if you never leave the U.S., with the exponential growth of E-commerce world-wide you will undoubtedly encounter languages other than English in your professional life.

A recent study of the Global Language Network for book translations, Twitter, and Wikipedia, shows that French, German, Italian, Russian, and Spanish are more frequently used after English.  (Ronen S, Goncalves B, Hu KZ, Vespignani A, Pinker S, Hidalgo CA. Links that speak: the global language network and its association with global fameProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) (2014), 10.1073/pnas.1410931111,

As of November 2015, the top ten languages of internet users were* …

Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. But remember that you have learned English, so you know how language works. You can therefore learn another language.

Also, did you know that learning a second language

What teaching methods do we use?

We emphasize communicative and functional approaches. In other words, we base our teaching on what students need in their everyday lives. Nevertheless, the emphasis placed on communication skills entails learning the basics of the language:  grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, and pragmatics.

Our interactive approach means that students will be called upon to participate as much as possible in class and to practice their language skills through various oral activities. Student participation is essential. To a large extent, your progress will depend on your participation and motivation.

You will also be encouraged to take advantage of every opportunity to speak the language outside the classroom, such as participating in the weekly language tables. You can also improve your language skills by reading and listening.

Learning a language also means discovering a new culture.

What results can you expect?

The way one learns varies with each individual, as does the speed at which one learns. As a general rule, progress depends on the time the student takes to learn, and the effort he or she makes. But this is not the case for everyone. Many variables are involved when one is learning a second language, and they can play a major role in the learning process. This is why it is very important to speak with your professor in order to understand your learning profile better.

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Modern Languages and Classics
201 Little Hall
Orono, Maine 04469
Phone: 207-581-2072 | Fax: 207-581-1832E-mail:
The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469