Meeting the High Demand for Language Skills

“In an increasingly connected global society, the demand for professionals who also have sound language skills is skyrocketing,” said Ray T. Clifford, director of BYU’s Center for Language Studies and associate dean in the College of Humanities.

At a four-day summer institute put on by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) on the BYU campus, Clifford told scholars from around the world about BYU’s language program. “Every semester, about half of the BYU student population is enrolled in language classes, and BYU offers courses in about 60 different languages.” While learning a language, students have the opportunity to earn a language certificate, offered by the Center for Language Studies. Those working towards the language certificate are required to take a few upper-level language classes and pass the ACTFL oral and writing exams.

Spencer W. Liebel, a BYU graduate, says his language certificate opened opportunities for him. “The language certificate helped me stand out from the crowd of other applicants who had similar grades and tests scores and helped showcase my abilities beyond numerical quantifiers. In each of my grad school interviews, the interviewers asked me about my language certificate. In the end, I gained admission to my first-choice university.”

The language certificate is available to all students at BYU and has been awarded to students in about 70 academic majors.

Clifford said, “Second-language ability is a core competency of Brigham Young University—it adds value to our graduates and is a skill set that other universities cannot easily replicate.”

—Stephanie Bahr Bentley (’14)

Note: For more information on the Language Certificate program, visit