Language Matters

Kathleen Stein Smith, Ph.D

How diplomats learn so many new languages in a short amount of time

“Although American diplomats are not required to speak any languages other than English upon joining the service, we are required to become fluent in at least one foreign language within the first five years. Fluency in at least two foreign languages is required in order to reach the highest ranks and, in reality, most American diplomats speak three or more foreign languages with at least some proficiency.

In fact, for lovers of language learning, one of the greatest benefits of a job in the U.S. Foreign Service is not only that we have the opportunity to be trained in foreign languages, but that we’re paid to do so.”

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Languages do matter!


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