World Languages, Literatures and Cultures

GWU Director of International Programs Discusses Benefits of Studying Abroad and Majoring in a Foreign Language

World Languages, Literatures and Cultures

The goal of the new director of International Programs at Gardner-Webb University is to increase the number of students studying in other countries. Dr. Bernhard Martin is also the professor of German and chair of the Department of World Languages, Literatures and Cultures.

Taking a semester to study in a foreign country benefits all majors, he stressed. “Investing into college abroad can help you in graduate school and your employment,” he explained.

Gardner-Webb is an exchange partner with universities in eight countries and has affiliations with 10 others. Through the exchange program, tuition costs are the same. Students are responsible for airfare, room and board and spending money. Besides studying for a semester, shorter options include summer language intensives and spring break and mission trips.

Studying another language—whether American Sign Language (ASL), French, Spanish or German—has similar benefits to studying abroad. “You are constantly confronted with a mirror that reflects back on your own language and culture,” Martin revealed. “The important thing to me and my colleagues is that students compare foreign culture to American culture. Through the lens we provide them, they gain a new appreciation of where they come from.”

For those interested in teaching a foreign language, the state of North Carolina is offering a loan forgiveness program. However, teaching is not the only option. Adding a foreign language as a second major or minor is beneficial to students in business, law, healthcare, science, music and art. “The foreign language major or minor is what I call an added value,” Martin shared. “It combines nicely with any discipline, especially if you want to move higher up the career ladder. Nowadays, that means you have to function on international grounds. The better you can move in that territory, the better for your career.”

Learn more about International Programs and the Department of World Languages, Literatures and Cultures.