Business and Career
From attracting international clients to your company to positioning yourself for a business trip or relocation abroad, here are ways learning a language can help your career.
- English isn’t the most commonly spoken language: It’s often spoken at international conferences and in airports, but Mandarin and Spanish are the most commonly spoken languages in the world.
- Travel abroad for work: Sure you’d love to travel to France, but can you afford it? If your boss is footing the bill, though, you can enjoy international travel without having to pay for it: your ability to speak the language is your real ticket.
- Able to communicate with a broader network: You’ll get to move up in your field more easily if you can speak different languages and network or collaborate at the international level.
- Bring international business to your company: Attract international clients and sales to your company by being able to communicate in their native languages.
- Make yourself more indispensable: If you bring something extra to the table, like being the only one to speak Japanese or Portuguese, you’re more likely to get hired and less likely to be fired.
- Show respect to international colleagues: It’s respectful to speak to a visitor or client in their native tongue, and gives you brownie points, too.
- Relocation: You never know when the chance to relocate may pop up out of the blue, and if you already know the language, you may high up on the boss’ list to go.
- Keep up with the rest of the world: If you want to stay abreast of the latest research or news in science, engineering, technology or business, you may have to read a Chinese newspaper or journal to get the info, not an English-language one.
- Compete with the younger generation: More and more Americans are learning languages, studying abroad and/or are the product of bilingual households, so you’re going to have to keep up with them to remain competitive.
- Be more sensitive to cultural differences: By studying grammar — for instance, the different forms of “you” and how they’re used in different languages — you’ll learn how and why to be more sensitive with business contacts who will appreciate your effort.
- Cut out the middle man: Save your company — or yourself — the price of an interpreter.
- Pick up on the subtleties: By learning more than just business travel-related words, you can pick up on memos, e-mails, jokes and everyday conversation that will help facilitate business relationships.
- You’ll get paid more: With such a vital and profit-producing skill, you can command a higher salary.
- Be a better advertiser: Whether you actually work in advertising or are just a freelancer, you can sell yourself and your services better if you have a solid understanding of your audience’s culture.
- Compete for jobs abroad: Even international companies like the UN and NATO use other languages besides English as an official language.
Languages enrich your personal life too, make you feel more confident and capable that you’ve achieved a tough goal, and encourage you to respect other cultures and groups.
- Have a better understanding of the world and how we’re all connected: By being able to speak a language with native speakers, you can better understand their culture, background and traditions.
- Be happier and sexier: Supposedly it’s proven that people who speak more than one language are richer, happier and seen as being sexier.
- Communicate with family members: Speak with foreign in-laws or new friends in their native tongue to bring you closer to them.
- Encourages you to respect other cultures: You may have a different view of foreign policy, diplomacy and international aid if you learn more about a new culture.
- Gain independence: You’ll feel more confident and self-sufficient if you can speak more than one language.
- Help visitors to your city: If you run into some Spanish vacationers — who aren’t proficient in English — in your city, you can better help them with directions or recommendations if you speak their language.
- Achieve a new goal or dream: Just accomplishing a dream or goal you’ve always had will make you feel confident and capable.
- Impress your date: Recite love poems and pet names in a foreign language.
- Improves your reading skills: Studying a language can help you get more out of your own reading, too.
- Improve memory: Learning a language helps improve memory.
- Order in a restaurant: It brings more to your dining experience if you can order in French at a French restaurant, n’est ce pas?
- Make new friends: When you travel, you can actually become lifelong friends with the people you meet if you’re able to communicate easily.
- It’s sexy: Mastering new accents and sounds is just plain sexy.
- Understand your own culture: You’ll draw connections and comparisons between your culture and your new country of study, giving you the opportunity to understand where you come from and how it’s affected your personality.
- Keep your brain active and healthy: Slow down mental aging and keep cognitive decline at bay by challenging yourself with language learning.
- More comfortable dealing with unfamiliar situations: Once you know that you can learn something totally new and different, you’ll feel better prepared when faced with uncertain or unfamiliar problems.
Travel and Hobbies
It’s obvious that learning a language can help you become a more confident traveler, but it will also help you get in with the locals, learn more about food, and have fun exploring your own ethnic neighborhoods back home.
- Enrich your travel experiences: You could probably get by in Germany without speaking German, but you’ll get so much more out of your trip if you can communicate with everyday people beyond ordering food and buying postcards.
- Get on the locals’ good side: If you can speak with a local in their native language, they’ll be friendlier and may turn you on to better spots to visit.
- Learn more about food: Read recipes from Italy in Italian using real Italian ingredients, as a way to continue learning about a new culture.
- Explore your own city’s ethnic neighborhoods: Order in Spanish at a taqueria, or visit a city like Miami, New York or San Francisco to practice your language.
- Study abroad: Even if you missed your chance as an undergrad, many graduate programs support studying abroad.
- Actually understand opera and foreign music: Anyone can enjoy the sounds of opera and foreign music, but being able to translate the message means you’ll get more out of it.
- Network with people around the world: Find more friends who share your similar interests and hobbies by being able to log onto foreign language forums and social networking sites.
Academic and Education
Whether you’re a linguistics major or a math student, languages sharpen study skills and boost academic prospects and potential, too.
- Improve learning skills: Learning a language trains your mind to think in a certain way, improving the way you pick up other skills, too.
- Relate to your students: If you’re a teacher and have students from ethnic backgrounds, you can better relate to communicate with, and teach them if you understand the language they speak at home.
- Could help you get a scholarship: Being able to speak more than one language could help with admissions or even getting a scholarship.
- Think more flexibly: If you can speak more than one language your problem solving and abstract thinking skills will be more flexible and creative.
- Improve your English: Learning the complexities of grammar will challenge you to consider English grammar for the first time since middle school.
- Improve test scores: Researchers have found that with each year of language study, scores on college and grad school exams go up.
- Study linguistics: It will help your research and understanding of the field if you can compare different languages.
Keep reading for more ways that learning a language can bring new opportunities to your life.
- Appreciate art in its native forms: You can read books in their native languages and watch movies without relying subtitles: ensuring nothing’s lost in translation.
- Speak in code: You and your friend or partner can switch languages when you don’t want present company eavesdropping.
- Can read and watch foreign news: Get your news from another perspective when you read and watch foreign news.
- They’re not all that hard: Not all languages are extremely difficult to learn, and you might be surprised at how easily you can learn one.
- It gets easier and easier: Once you’ve picked up Italian, it’ll be easy for you to learn Portuguese and Spanish, too, and then even French.