Southeast Asian & Pacific Languages
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Southeast Asian & Pacific Languages Overview

Southeast Asia is home to over 2,500 of different languages and a rich, diverse culture. This region includes mainland Southeast Asia, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, and other Southeast Asian countries. Majoring in Southeast Asian and Pacific Languages will provide an education in the various dialects of these countries, as well as geography, economics, politics, and cultural aspects that shape the region.

Students typically choose a concentration focusing on one area or language. Some of the concentrations you can choose include Australian, Indonesian or Malay, Burmese, Filipino, Cambodian, Lao, Thai, and Vietnamese Languages. Because all the concentrations are all different, most of the classes will not be the same; however some general classes include Art of Southeast Asia, Asian History, Asian literature, Asian Thought and Cultures, and Asian Traditions.

Required Skills

Students should have an interest in the Southeast Asian region, an ear for language and the patience to learn another language, master grammar, pronunciation and spelling. Much of your time will be spent studying the history, literature and culture of the region. This makes it an ideal major for students who loves art and storytelling.

You may be able to prepare for this major while still in high school by taking courses in Language, World History, World Religions, and English. There are opportunities for study abroad programs at some institutions. This would allow student to practice their lingual skills and experience the culture first hand.


A degree in Southeast Asian & Pacific Languages can lead to many different career opportunities. If you are interested in teaching, there are for positions in Postsecondary and Adult Education. You would have the opportunity to teach Southeast Asian & Pacific dialect, along with culture and history. You also may be interested in becoming an ESL teacher.

Another option is to become a translator or interpreter. Translators and interpreters are in high demand because of growing business between nations. If you are interested in Foreign Service, you can become a Foreign Service Officer. These officers endorse American business and political interest and give information and aid about their countries to the U.S policymakers. They arrange cultural exchanges, and help Americans travel abroad. The job outlook for these officers is growing at the average rate as other occupations in the U.S.

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Example Careers

Here is a small sample of the careers that a degree in Southeast Asian & Pacific Languages might open up.

Foreign Language and Literature Teachers, Postsecondary
Interpreters and Translators
Salary data is estimated by College Factual using 2013 data provided by PayScale.
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