Short Essay Competition


Learn about the essayists and read their award-winning essays here.


Fall 2022 Call for Essays: Why Do I Learn Languages?

How does learning another language contribute to your ways of thinking, your worldview, your attitude toward others, your career growth, or your self-awareness?

What does learning a language allow you to know?

Competition: Submit a 150-word statement in English and, if possible, in the language you are learning. Describe what you value about learning and knowing world languages.

Eligibility: All Rutgers students who are currently taking language courses at Rutgers or elsewhere, or who plan to take language courses at Rutgers before they graduate.

The “Why Do I Learn Languages?” short essay competition is part of the Year of Languages initiative, sponsored by the Division of Humanities in the School of Arts and Sciences. Winners of the competition will be awarded the Year of Languages Essay Prize. There will be five winners and five honorable mentions.

Students currently enrolled in language courses at Rutgers will have the opportunity to write this essay in class and submit their responses to their language instructors. Rutgers students who are taking language classes outside of Rutgers or plan to take language courses in the future may submit their responses using the form below, starting September 19, 2022.

The Why Do I Learn Languages? competition will be open for submissions from September 19 to September 23, 2022. Language instructors will distribute the online link and/or hardcopy of the submission form to students during their language class sessions. Students not currently enrolled in a Rutgers language course can submit their essays through the submission form available below.

Participating language instructors will select two - four of the best essays from each of their courses to forward to the Year of Languages Prize Selection Committee by September 30, 2022. 

The Selection Committee, which will be appointed by the Dean of Humanities, will choose five winners and five honorable mentions by October 7, 2022. Winners will receive a $100 cash prize. All winners and honorable mentions will have their essays and photos displayed on posters and video screens around campus, the Year of Languages website, and Year of Languages social media feeds. They will also be honored at the Year of Languages celebration on Voorhees Mall in April 2023.