Want to learn a language that isn't offered by my college

I have already decided on the college I would like to attend and am almost certain I will get in (I am a senior this year). My interests are in business and politics and I am hoping to major in International Relations. I would like to pair this with a critical language, preferably Russian. The colleges that I am applying to, including my top pick do not offer Russian or any other such language (Arabic, Chinese, ect.) but only offer Spanish, Latin, French… While these languages are great, they do not really line up with what kind of career I want to plan for. I thought at first I could find a Russian language course online, and complete my degree alongside my International Relations major however I have searched high and low and I can’t find any online accredited classes for Russian. My question is - if I get my major in International Relations and learn Russian on my own is there a way that I can earn credits for my knowledge? Or should it not matter to employers that I don’t have a degree if I can prove my knowledge? I don’t want to choose a different college as they offer excellent international relations majors with it being one of their top majors, and the only colleges that I found offering Russian either didn’t make sense for me, or were Ivy League (and I haven’t prepared enough to be accepted into one, as I never planned to attend one).

I have been homeschooled since 4th grade so I know that I would have no problem learning on my own, and I had no problem learning Spanish. I studied Spanish from 8th grade until now, and can speak it fluently. I have also looked into programs such as this one: http://www.clscholarship.org/about that would help with the real life experience with the language.

If I knew that employer’s would accept proof of fluency in Russian without a degree than I would just get a major in International Relations and try to find an online course for the language part. What do you guys think? Does anyone have any experience with an issue such as this? Thanks!

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It’s not impossible to achieve, but you need to be realistic about the likelihood of achieving russian fluency (or any language not using the latin alphabet) starting only in college.

If you do a Google search, you will find online Russian courses that offer high school (BYU) and university (both US & non-US) credit. You just did not do a very good search. I did a casual search and found several.

One problem with online courses for credit is that you would be taking these courses in addition to what I assume will be a full-time courseload at the university you will attend. You will have to decide if you can handle the extra coursework in addition to the extra cost.

Many universities that don’t offer formal courses in a language nonetheless do offer independent study materials and/or tutorials in less commonly-taught languages. You could check with your university language or linguistics departments.

There also are several free Russian language courses online, but you wouldn’t receive formal academic credits (possibly a certificate). However, you do not need formal academic credits if you can demonstrate the skill. While any Russian knowledge you acquire on your own won’t be listed on your transcript, you can list languages acquired (and your skill level) on your resume. In addition to online courses, you can study with a private teacher or at a private language school, which you should be able to find in many large cities (again, this would involve additional cost and would need to be done on top of your regular courseload). Perhaps you can arrange with another university to take their language placement test to provide some documentation of your efforts. Also, check if any other nearby schools have a cross-registration arrangement with your school.

If you can acquire the equivalent of the first two years of college Russian, you can apply for a study abroad program (probably one offered by a school other than the one you’re attending or one offered by an independent study abroad provider) for your junior year.

Some colleges and universities offer intensive summer courses in Russian and other critical languages. Sometimes you can complete an entire year of Russian in the such courses. These will require additional costs for tuition and housing, and if you need to earn money during the summers, this option might not be feasible. Some schools offer scholarships and federal funding used to be available, although there have been significant cutbacks. For an immersion program, check out the Middlebury Language Schools.

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The Cyrillic alphabet has nothing to do with it. It is, after all, an alphabet, albeit a different one than native English-speakers are used to. It’s not like trying to learn kanji. The Cyrillic/Greek/Arabic alphabet can be learned in an afternoon.

While it may be difficult to achieve fluency in Russian in college, don’t blame it on the alphabet. :slight_smile:

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Thanks for the great answers everyone. I realize I may not be fluent in 4 years, but from the research I have done, if you have even 2 years of a language such as Russian, many employers are willing to pay for additional training as this is a very useful skill to them. I think I could afford the extra cost of earning the degree because I have already talked with advisers at the college I am hoping to attend and between my ACT and GPA I qualify for a full scholarship (this school is known for their great financial aid, 100% of the 2014 freshman class received aid worth at least 50% of the cost of attendance).

I also live only 5 minutes away, so I will be living at home avoiding the extra cost of living on campus.

For those of you who thought it may be too much to take on, would it be any more work than, say, those who complete a double major? It will probably be less convenient than if it was all at the same school, but if it is doable than I am willing to put in the time, including continuing school through the summer (I have always done this anyway).

I have already mastered the Russian alphabet, by the way, it did not take me very long :wink: I originally looked into learning Russian as I am a huge fan of classic literature, and there are a few novels I would love to read in Russian instead of English as supposedly much of the beauty of the novels is lost in translation. So, I am more than willing to put in the time and effort if this is a possibility, not just for career possibilities, but for personal enjoyment.

One major problem that may come up. though, is that the international relations major has, as a requirement, the completion of a modern second language through the intermediate level.

Will they expect me to complete this there, or if I take classes elsewhere will they accept the credits for the classes I took elsewhere since they don’t the language I want to learn? I plan to talk to an advisor again soon, I mainly posted this discussion as I want to kind of have a game plan as to what I want to ask so I am not all over the place with my questions. Thanks for all the great reply’s, I truly appreciate it :slight_smile:

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You can certainly develop fluency after starting a language in adulthood. Lots of people do it. I know several of them - including a close friend who developed fluency in Japanese when she started taking classes in college (and studied abroad in Japan for a year). The military, in fact, has a training program aimed at developing fluency in languages for their cryptologic linguists, and they generally start between ages 18 and 25; most of their critcal languages have non-Latin alphabets. It’s easier to develop fluency if you started in childhood or adolescence, but it’s far from impossible to develop it if you start in college.

With that said, no employers are not going to care if you don’t have credits in a language (the exception might be the federal government, who might require a certain amount of credits in a field). They care wheher or not you can speak the language. You might have to take a language proficiency exam or otherwise prove you can speak it.

I think the main problem with this plan is that developing real fluency in a language is more about speaking and listening than just reading and writing. Online classes don’t give you that speaking and listening part - there are no amounts of recorded lectures that can substitute for being in class and listening to the spoken language, particularly once you get past the beginner phase. I know lots of people teach themselves a language using Rosetta Stone or whatever, but it’s probably better to be in a classroom - or at least supplement the online learning with classroom or conversational work.

A good bet is to look and see if there are any other colleges in your local area that offer Russian classes and see if you can cross-register. There’s also the [Middlebury Language School in Russian](http://www.middlebury.edu/ls/russian), which is offered over the summer - you could use that to supplement any online classes you take to ensure that you’re getting that speaking/listening part.

If you live in or near a major city, I would see if there’s a foundation or nonprofit that offers Russian classes or conversation practices - I know there are several nonprofits that do that in various languages in New York.

Also, given that you’re a high school senior (rising senior), would you also potentially consider going to a different college - one that offers Russian? Given that that’s such a key part of what you want to do, I think it would make sense to at least consider applying to some other colleges that offer Russian. They may offer you some financial aid that make it possible and affordable for you to go. (Actually, Middlebury would be an excellent choice in that regard…)

Yes. Double majors are typically completed within the confines of a normal or slightly inflated course load; you’d have to take a normal course load to be full-time PLUS take outside classes. Also, because they’re not at the same school, you’d have to do some coordination to make sure that your schedules are compatible (although if they are online you can do them whenever you want).

It depends on the college - the advisor will be able to answer this question more thoroughly for you. Some colleges are much more amenable to off-campus coursework than others. However, many colleges won’t appreciate online coursework, particularly for a language.

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I agree with @Jullet in that language is more about speaking and listening.

As a native Spanish speaker, who has been “tested” for language proficiency for my occupation, I find it interesting that you can be self-taught in a language and speak it fluently to yourself. I had to take classes in Spanish to receive my certification in Spanish. It makes it a lot easier to find a job when you have a certificate from a university that confirms foreign language proficiency. Have you traveled to Spanish-speaking countries and been able to carry on a conversation in Spanish to confirm your fluency?

The same thing applies to the study of Russian, it is about practicing with people who speak the language. You can’t learn it all from a book.

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Why not take a masters degree program at Moscow and learn the language while you are there? It will look great on your resume, especially if you are getting a job that does a lot of business in Russia.

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@Juilet Thanks for your help, I will look into the Middlebury. I don’t live near any big city, so no luck there. @“aunt bea” I didn’t explain myself correctly. I actually did take spoken online classes, but I supplemented on my own as well. It is quite easy to find many great (even free) Spanish courses and other resources online and my local community college as well as the private college where I live also offer courses for high schoolers. As to being fluent, I am sure I don’t speak as well as native speakers, however, I can listen to others talk and understand and respond without much trouble. I don’t mean I could actually learn all by myself without hearing the language spoken, and speaking it myself to others, I just mean I don’t mind learning without a teacher guiding me every step of the way.

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