Speaking a second language isn’t always necessary when you want to communicate with someone from a different culture, however it can be the key to advancing your career.
If you’ve noticed a certain trend with the folks getting the promotions at your office, read on to find out how learning a foreign language can improve and enhance your career path.
- Increased job prospects: If you live and work in a country with more than one official language, like Canada or do business with clients that speak a different language, a second language is a great way to add value to your team and get noticed when new positions become available at work.
When you are able to speak multiple languages, it will often open doors to a bigger pool of job opportunities and you will have an edge over monolingual job candidates. Industries such as hospitality, retail, sales, tourism, banking, customer service, government and teaching allow you to make use of your knowledge of foreign languages on the job. A second language is a great way to move your resume to the top of the pile.
- Enhanced networking skills: When you open up to any new culture, you also become more flexible and have a greater appreciation for the other person’s perspectives and behaviors. Language and culture go hand in hand and being culturally intelligent is a very important part of doing well in business. Being multilingual gives you the chance to view the world from various view points and this in turn equips you to communicate and connect effectively in the global marketplace.
- Better pay and advancement opportunities: Employees who speak multiple languages will usually receive a bilingual premium even if it is only slightly higher. In North America, the premium ranges from 1.5 to 4%. However, according to MIT economist Albert Saiz, in some countries, where candidates that speak the lingua franca English are in high demand, the premium ranges from 10-20%. The real payoff for us here in North America is that a second language can open up a door that may not otherwise have opened because you would not have been considered for the position. An example of this is a supervisory position or a transfer overseas.
The thing about studying a foreign language is that the benefits are not always immediate or linear. Sometimes your second language simply positions you to receive another indirect benefit.
However, if you like the idea of keeping all your options open, increasing your salary, making smooth cross cultural connections and maximizing your career opportunities, learning a foreign language can be the best investment that you make this year.