Sally Totton loves learning languages.
She’s finished her second year of a Flexible Double Degree, which includes studying Arabic, Persian, Russian and Thai.
“I was most surprised by how accessible even the most challenging languages are to students in their first year of study at the ANU,” she recalls.
“I’m currently a student of both Arabic and Russian and I have studied other languages before coming to the ANU with varying levels of success.”
Sally says found a balance between her enjoyment of languages and her Flexible Double Degree which combines Middle Eastern and Central Asian Studies with International Security Studies.
“While the study of languages gives me cultural insight into a program which is otherwise focused quite heavily on themes of foreign policy and national security, the courses that make up my Middle Eastern and Central Asian major in turn provide contemporary political and social context to the languages I am studying,” she says.
“With this double degree program, I’m reminded regularly how relevant and meaningful the acquisition of a second or third language is to anyone working toward a career in diplomacy or foreign affairs.
“This is especially true for students who imagine themselves being able to actively use their language study in the future in order to gain a more sophisticated insight into different cultures and potentially play a key role in shaping Australia’s foreign relations.”
Sally describes her first year of Arabic as “extremely gratifying” and not the ambitious undertaking some English speakers consider Arabic to be.
“The introductory Arabic course seems to be designed to be extremely well paced with every opportunity for student participation to build confidence in reading, writing and using the language in conversation classes.
“Our course conveners were particularly open to feedback from students on how our understanding of the more complex grammatical concepts could be enhanced and we were constantly shown the rich diversity of the Arab world through film, media and music.”
As for her plans after graduation, Sally says it’s too early to say, but will likely involve studying abroad.
“Honestly, as many international relations students would agree, that depends entirely on what is happening in the world at the time,” she says.
“However with this degree and the opportunities that lie ahead to study abroad, I doubt very much that the languages I am learning today will ever go to waste.”