“I speak English, so I don’t have to learn a foreign language….”
According to the CIA World Fact Book, only 5.6 % of the world’s total population speaks English as a primary language. That number doubles when people who speak English as a second or third language are counted. By conservative estimates, that means that well over four-fifths of the world’s population does not speak English.
The attitude that English alone is enough in fact creates self-imposed limitations. To remain monolingual is to stunt your educational development, to restrict your communication and thinking abilities, and to deny yourself the opportunities that those without foreign language skills might miss. In other words, fluency in a foreign language has many benefits to offer, not just in your personal life, but in the professional one as well.
In this blog we will be focusing on the ways in which learning a foreign language adds value to your career. Given below is a list we have prepared for the same. Do give it a read!
1) NEW JOB OPPORTUNITIES
Dr. Dan Davidson, President of the American Councils on International Education once stated, “The English language alone is probably sufficient if all we need to do is buy our products abroad, if we need to purchase foreign goods and services. But when it comes to selling a product abroad, you have to understand the psychology and the belief structure of your client. If you are selling America abroad and telling America’s story abroad then you have to understand the value systems of that foreign public that you are speaking to.”
Following this line of thought, one must understand that if businesses are to effectively compete in a global economy, they must learn to deal with other cultures on their own terms. Businesses that intend to compete internationally need employees who can competently communicate in the locales where they do business. As a result, today, we see a rise in the demand for bilingual or multilingual employees by such businesses.
However, business is not the only area of employment where language competencies are needed. According to the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, jobs such as retail, sales, administration, marketing, transportation and tourism, communication, banking, law, teaching, as well as public relations and government need people to work using a foreign language.
It is crystal clear, from the above information that whatever your career goals, knowing a language will increase your chances of being employable, in fact it will open up employment opportunities that you would not have had otherwise!
2) GET HIRED!
Once you’ve found that new job opportunity, it’s also more likely that you will be hired because of your ability to speak a foreign language. According to an article by Lingholic, “Knowing a second language will increase your chances of getting the job that you want; in a group of ten or more applicants of similar abilities, the one who is able to speak a foreign language will often be considered over the others.” Supporting this statement, is an article written by Vistawide which stated, “ Knowing languages gives you an edge over monolingual applicants competing for the same jobs.”
3) HIGHER WAGES
You might not know this, but employees that speak more than one language will often have a higher price tag. Euro London, a recruitment agency, states, “Knowing a foreign language can add between 10% and 15% to your wage. An extra 10% or more an upper-level position could easily cover a year’s car payments, a larger apartment, or a fancy vacation. “
Knowing a second language not only increases your wages but can also lead to salary bonuses! However the exact value of bonuses earned from knowing another language is debatable. One Freakonomics podcast suggests that English-speaking Americans who learn a foreign language can expect to earn only about $600 more than someone who knows only English. While the article from The Economist points out that even small language bonuses can add up over time.
The same article in The Economist also stated that, “Salary bonuses actually vary, depending on the exact language in which you’re proficient. A quick breakdown of a few different secondary languages and their annual is given below:
The Spanish language at workplace will ensure a 1.5% bonus, while French and German will ensure a 2.3% and 3.8% bonuses respectively.”
It is important to remember that while you may want to take these figures into account when deciding on a secondary language to learn, this list by no means needs to dictate your decision. You should study what your heart desires!
4) BECOME A MORE VAlUABLE EMPLOYEE, RESULTING IN ADVANCEMENT OF OPPORTUNITIES
Being able to speak a second or third language transcends spoken dialogue. The skill enables you to relate to different cultural groups in a more personal manner. Speaking to someone in his or her own language helps break down barriers and allows everyone to feel more comfortable and confident. This type of dialogue and relationship building is crucial in any business setting. When you are interacting with clients, vendors, and colleagues, knowing their language, even if they also speak English, can elevate the professional relationship. This can lead to more sales, better service and stronger interactions with colleagues.
This ability to understand the cultural sensitivity of your clients is one of the two ways that increases your value as an employee. The second is, that with speaking a foreign language comes an additional set of responsibilities. One of them being, directly reading and responding to clients’ requests in their own language. This saves translation expenses, stress, and delays when dealing with urgent business.
One must understand that with these additional responsibilities come increased job security, wages, and advancement opportunities. Having experience in multiple cultures will place you as a good candidate for promotions, and higher-level positions!
5) SHARPENS YOUR COGNITIVE AND LIFE SKILLS
As learning a language involves a variety of learning skills, studying a foreign language can enhance one’s ability to learn and function in several other areas. It’s been observed that children who have studied a language at the elementary level score higher on tests in reading, language arts, and math. People who have learned foreign languages show greater cognitive development in areas such as mental flexibility, creativity, and higher order thinking skills, such as problem-solving, conceptualizing, and reasoning.
In addition to cognitive benefits, the study of foreign languages leads to the acquisition of some important life skills. Because language learners learn to deal with unfamiliar cultural ideas, they are much better equipped to adapt and cope in a fast-changing world. They also learn to effectively handle new situations. In addition, the encounter with cultures different from one’s own leads to tolerance of diverse lifestyles and customs. And it improves the learner’s ability to understand and communicate with people from different walks of life.
The skills mentioned above are some of the most sought after, for any job spread across all fields. Sharpening them can make you an indispensable employee and help in sky rocketing your career! This, in our opinion, is one of the biggest reasons for you to opt for a new language course right away!
Now that we have spoken about the career benefits of learning a new language, let us look at some of the languages that can give you a leg up on the job market. According to an article in The Economist, languages such as Spanish, German, French, Italian, Russian and Japanese, with a growing emphasis on Mandarin, given China’s booming economy are some of the most sought after by any employer across the world.
So what are you waiting for? Apply for a course of your choice and order that language book you’ve been thinking about. Set aside some time every day, even a half hour, to sit down and study. This will benefit your career graph in ways that you can never imagine.