The prime reason I learned German in high school was because it was compulsory. The second reason was the opportunity to break down the communication barrier with over 80 million people. It was only after I travelled to Germany after high school that I realised hundreds of millions of foreign students learn English for the same reason. Ever since, I’ve wondered about the value of those years of German classes, other than boosting my high school marks. Obviously there are monetary benefits through better employment opportunities. However, there are also monetary opportunity costs – how much would one earn had they taken up chemistry instead, or simply spent the time working? Learning a language also presents a myriad of intangible and some perhaps unexpected benefits, and costs. So what is the overall value of learning a second language?
So after four years at the university of Melbourne, studying economics and a bit of politics along the way, it’s suddenly all come to an end. Which feels odd because for the greater part of this year, my Honours year, the focus hasn’t been on finishing the degree, or my time at university for that matter, but instead it’s been on the arduous/dreaded/painful thesis and making sure it got completed by last week’s Monday deadline. You may have noticed a collective sigh go up across the Economics department on Monday afternoon as everyone submitted their papers.