Where to Study Minority Languages?

Are you passionate about languages? Particularly about minority and lesser-known languages? Would you like to study a university degree related to this topic? If so, this article is for you!

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In this article, we will talk about the best universities worldwide that offer specific degrees in minority languages, so that their students may graduate with a solid base in the language they’ve chosen and be completely prepared to operate as specialised professionals in areas such as teaching, restoration of cultural patrimony, intercultural mediation, etc. Furthermore, having a degree specialising in one or several minority languages may actually make it easier for you to get a job related to what you have studied, as there won’t be such a fierce competition when applying for it. Let’s face it: there are much fewer people in the world who have completed specialised studies in Galician, Welsh, or Basque than people who have earned a degree in French, German, or Spanish! But even if the area of minority languages may not appear as a very popular one, you’ll be surprised by the number of universities that have decided to give it a go.

10 Schools to Study Minority Languages

  1. Leipzig University
Source: https://www0.sun.ac.za/international/about/stellenbosch-leipzig-university-partnership/about-stellenbosch-leipzig-partnership/about-leipzig-university.html

Located in north-eastern Germany, Leipzig University, originally founded in 1409, is the second oldest university in the country, preceded only by Heidelberg University (founded in 1389). Their Faculty of Philology offers several Bachelor’s degrees in languages and foreign cultures, including a degree in European Minority Languages, in partnership with the University of Szczecin in Poland. Particularly, the degree focuses on Sorbian studies (providing an insight into the culture of Lusatia, a region currently divided between the German and Polish regions of Saxony, Brandenburg, Lower Silesia and Lubusz). Nevertheless, optional modules focusing on Celtic languages and cultures are also available for this degree. That would mean that people who have chosen to study this degree will not only master German and English (the main languages of instruction), but will also gain knowledge in Polish (since students are required to spend one year abroad in Szczecin), Sorbian (a core subject) and also in another Celtic language of their choice such as Gaelic or Welsh!

2. University of Groningen

University of Groningen
Image Source: University of Groningen

One of the oldest universities in the Netherlands (founded in 1614), the University of Groningen is also a member of the prestigious European association of the Coimbra Group universities, which also includes other institutions in Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the UK. Among the University’s 11 faculties, there is the Faculty of Arts, which may be the ideal place to study if you’re looking for a degree in the field of minority languages and multilingualism. The faculty includes a specialisation track in Frisian languages, spoken in some parts of Germany and the Netherlands, and their literature. Students will be delving into subjects related to minority communities in Europe, their history, culture, and languages while still taking linguistic studies and approaching Frisian history, cultural heritage, and literature. The perfect degree if you’d like to specialise in the lesser-known branch of Germanic languages!

3. University College Cork

Source: University College Cork 

This institution in south-east Ireland was established in 1845 as the Queen’s College Cork. It would eventually become University College Cork in 1908. Currently, UCC is a part of the National University of Ireland group, along with University College Dublin, NUI Galway and, NUI Maynooth. Nowadays, this university has 20,000 students enrolled, and is the home university to a College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences, which offers several unique courses. At UCC, students may choose from a variety of programmes including Celtic Civilisation, Irish Folklore, and Gaelic Literature; and by following them will get acquainted with contrastive studies between Irish and other Celtic languages, what Old Irish to be like, early Irish literature, and so on. For students wishing to specialise in the mysterious and fascinating language that Irish is, UCC is undoubtedly one of their best bets.

4. Aberystwyth University

credit: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/25/Aberystwyth_Old_University_Building.jpg
Source: studentcrowd.com

Originally founded in 1872 as the University College of Wales, this university is quite smaller in comparison to UCC. Nevertheless, the Aberystwyth University is considered one of the best in the United Kingdom, with a rich Department in Modern Languages within its Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Currently, this university offers several Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Welsh, specialising in the language, its culture, and its literature, combined with other disciplines such as other Celtic languages, Spanish, History, Law, Drama and Theatre Studies or even Mathematics. These degrees typically require previous knowledge of Welsh language as criteria of eligibility, but don’t panic: Aberystwyth University also offers a special degree in Welsh for beginners that don’t require any specific certificates testifying knowledge in Welsh. So in case you want to become an expert in Welsh language and culture but still haven’t had the chance of going through a full immersion, this might be the ideal degree for you!

5. University of Santiago de Compostela

La USC, entre las 400 mejores universidades del mundo
Source: cadenaser.com

This university was originally founded in 1495 and its main campus is located in the capital of the autonomous community of Galicia, in north-western Spain, with another campus in the Galician city of Lugo. It is currently attended by about 42,000 students and offers a wide range of degrees, Master’s degrees and Doctorates from 19 different faculties. The Faculty of Philology at the University of Santiago de Compostela offers a very complete degree in Galician Language and Literature, in which students will become acquainted with disciplines such as Galician linguistics, dialectology, language history, morphology, phonetics, and phonology. Furthermore, in this university, students will have the choice of focusing their degree solely in Galician philology or combining it with other modules such as Danish, Romanian, Catalan, or even Occitan language and literature. So if you’re considering studying Galician language and culture in a professional way and you also wish to learn more about other minority languages such as Catalan or Occitan, this is the ideal university for you!

6. University of the Basque Country

Edificio de la UPV.
Source: https://www.eldiario.es/norte/euskadi/Universidad-Pais-Vasco-introduce-formularios_0_703780447.html

Known in Basque as ‘Euskal Herriko Unibersitatea,’ this public university was formally established in 1980 and has different campuses in all three provinces of the Basque Country: Biscay, Gipuzkoa, and Álava. Probably one of the most particular and interesting degrees that the Faculty of Letters of this university has to offer is a degree in Basque Studies. Students will follow a programme focusing not only on Basque grammar, linguistics, morphology and literature, but will also have other subjects such as Latin and a wide range of second language choices such as Russian, German, French, or even Ancient Greek. Nevertheless, future students should keep in mind that this degree requires a certain base of the Basque language in order to be able to follow the classes. While the option of studying the presumed oldest language in Europe in depth is bound to be something really interesting and exciting, it may not be viable for those who don’t already possess some knowledge of Basque.

7. Autonomous University of Barcelona

UAB Casa Convalescència
Source: https://www.uab.cat/web/sala-de-prensa/detalle-noticia-1345667994339.html?noticiaid=1345683491571

With its main campuses located in the town of Cerdanyola del Vallès, near Barcelona, capital of the Autonomous Community of Catalonia, Spain, this university recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, having been founded in June of 1968. With several other campuses and centres existing in the neighbouring towns of Sabadell, Manresa, Sant Cugat del Vallès and Terrassa, the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) is considered as one of the three best universities in Spain, with the other two being the Complutense University of Madrid and the Autonomous University of Madrid. One of the main particularities of the UAB is that its Faculty of Philosophy and Letters offers a very complete degree in Catalan Language and Literature, while still focusing on other areas such as Latin, Linguistics, History, and Philosophy. Students also have the option of combining modules of Catalan philology with Spanish. For those who wish to gain a solid formation in Catalan in order to work in that sector later, then the Autonomous University of Barcelona may be your top choice.

8. Western Carolina University

Aerial view wcu
Source: https://www.wcu.edu/learn/departments-schools-colleges/cob/outreach-engagement/csfe/center-information.aspx

Western Carolina University is a university located in the city of Cullowhee, North Carolina, USA. It was founded in 1889 and currently has an attendance of around 11,000 students. WCU offers a wide range of programmes and degrees from five undergraduate colleges, another undergraduate school, the Honors College and the Graduate School. In relation to the minority languages that can be studied here, the Department of Social Sciences offers several programmes in Cherokee Studies, both as an interdisciplinary minor for undergraduate students and as graduate specialisations. Students who choose to engage in Cherokee studies will not only focus on the language itself, but also on the history of Cherokee people and other Native American tribes, and contemporary Cherokee culture, society, arts, and crafts. So if you are considering immersing yourself in these philological studies, why not do it in one of the states where Cherokee culture is most present?

9. Northeastern State University

Source: https://academics.nsuok.edu/criminaljustice/DegreePrograms/LegalStudies.aspx

Established in March 1909, this university has a main campus located close to the Orzak Plateau, in Tahlequah, Oklahoma; with another two locations in Broken Arrow and Muskogee. It is one of the largest universities in the State of Oklahoma. Among the various degrees it offers, American Indian Studies, Cherokee Cultural Studies and Cherokee Education are available both as majors and minors for undergraduate students. Students who enroll at these studies will get the chance of getting acquainted with not only Native American literature and history but also with topics such as indigenous spirituality and language revitalisation.

Furthermore, students who also choose courses focused on Cherokee studies will also engage in the studies of Cherokee grammar and language. Studying a degree like this will not only provide you with more knowledge about Cherokee and other Native American languages but it will also educate you on their beliefs and history, so NSU is the perfect place to attend if you are wishing to specialise in more than one indigenous American culture!

10. University of Auckland

The University of Auckland Campus 2
Source: https://studyco.com/es/photo/78-The-University-of-Auckland-Campus-2

Located in the homonymous city, in northern New Zealand, the University of Auckland is the largest one in the country. It was founded in 1883 and has a current attendance of more than 40,000 students, with eight faculties distributed over six different campuses. One of the main particularities of this university is that it offers its undergraduate students the possibility of integrating Māori studies in their schedule as their major. Students following courses in Māori studies will thus get the opportunity of immersing not only in written and spoken Māori, but also to the Māori dialect spoken in the Cook Islands, politics, and - depending on the stage they have chosen - also archaeology and public media. Nowadays, fluent Maori is only spoken by about 50,000 people; so if you are interested in working in the field of cultural mediation and wish to learn more about the language of the indigenous people of New Zealand, then these studies at this university are perfect for you!

What about you? Are you currently an undergraduate, post-graduate student, or past student of a minority language? What language(s) did you choose and at which university? Share your experience with us! And don't forget to make use of Glossika's free resources:

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