Humor, Spin & Persuasion: Language Skills for the Real World

Not sure what you’re going to do with your language skills? Neither was Morgan. But as he studied Arabic, he remained open to many prospects, tried new things, discovered learning opportunities in unlikely places, and remained patient… especially through the twists and turns of his first years out of college.

In our pilot alumni interview, we speak with CET Jordan alumnus Morgan Byrne-Diakun who shares his advice for students.

Morgan maintains that the most essential language skills for a professional context are: understanding humor, knowing how to spin, and being persuasive. While it’s not always comfortable, verbal conflict can drive the language learning process, he explains. He also shares two of his favorite study abroad memories where he discovered the importance of cultural competence and non-verbal communication in Arabic.

When we ask him what he keeps in his arsenal alongside advanced Arabic proficiency, he says that solid English writing skills and a sense of humor are two indispensable skills, adding how much he values his liberal arts education for setting him up for success in a variety of positions – which is a good thing, as we discuss how the nature of careers is shifting and transitioning to positions in different fields is becoming increasingly common.

Morgan Byrne-Diakun was a CET Jordan student in summer 2011. He discovered a passion for language acquisition when he began studying Arabic at the University of Virginia in 2008, where he subsequently earned his B.A. in Middle Eastern Languages and Foreign Affairs. After graduating, Morgan worked with CET as a Resident Assistant in Jordan and Tunisia. Since returning to the United States, he has worked in higher education research and as a government contractor for the defense community. He is currently pursuing an M.A. in Security Studies at the Georgetown University Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.

NB – We mentioned that Morgan finished the CET program in the “advanced spectrum”. We are referring to the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language’s proficiency guidelines.

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