Language affects every area of our lives. It seems invisible until we encounter a language barrier. The solution is being able to cross the language divide, whether you’re in a personal setting or a professional one.
Here are three reasons why learning a second language can benefit your career.
1. You’re Better Able to Communicate with Clients
If you understand their native language, you’ll be able to communicate with people without relying on a translator. This enables spontaneous conversations that engender trust.
If you’re in sales or customer support, the ability to communicate with people in their native language creates a deeper level of rapport. This increases the odds you’ll make the sale. It also means you won’t lose out on sales because the customer needs to be handed off to someone who can talk to them.
Foreign investors will be more willing to invest with you after hearing you give the presentation in their language instead of a third-party translator.
If you understand your clients in their native language, you’ll be more likely to properly diagnose them if you are a medical professional. A technical expert may pick up the little details in someone’s story that lead to the faster resolution of a problem.
Conversely, you won’t have to rely on a third-party app to translate the spoken or written words of others. You won’t risk being offensive due to an incorrectly translated word or misunderstanding a request.
There will be less back and forth trying to nail down exactly what the person wants. You’ll make fewer mistakes, and this improves overall performance in your job.
There are intangible benefits to being bilingual when working with business partners. Because you can communicate with them like one of their own, you’re more likely to create a personal connection or friendship. This can lead to referrals and insider tips you wouldn’t otherwise receive.
What many don’t know is that learning a second language improves your command of language, regardless of which one you’re speaking at the moment.
You’ll focus on the mechanics of language, the words you’re using, and how you’re saying them. You’ll become a more effective communicator in your native language, and you’ll become a better listener.
2. It Opens Up Job Opportunities
Being bilingual always opens up a number of job opportunities. A bilingual customer service rep commands a premium over one who can only speak their native language.
Strong foreign language skills make it easy to find a better job in another country. The fact that you learn about the culture while you study the language will make you more comfortable and confident when you travel there.
If you want to work abroad, your company will certainly consider you for an international assignment over someone who doesn’t speak the language. In general, being bilingual equals a ten to fifteen percent pay raise if the language skills have a bearing on your work.
Sometimes becoming bilingual is a step towards a management position. If you are fluent in another language, you are a natural choice for working with an international team.
If you’re the only person who is fluent in both languages, you’d be a shoe-in for leading that team for your company if you have some management experience. Forget saving up to pay for a fantasy vacation in Greece.
Pick up a Greek language book so that your company can pay you to stay there on a long-term assignment. Take the time to learn the language before a foreign posting, and management will see that you’ve taken the initiative. That’s always a point in your favour.
Or you may find a job as a translator. For those who have valuable expertise in law, medicine or technology, you’re now a coveted specialised translator or interpreter.
3. It Distinguishes You as a Candidate
When you’re competing for a job, knowing a second language distinguishes you as a job candidate. Though they may not need someone with your language skills today, it is something unusual you can put on your resume that stands out from the standard list of business and software skills. This could be enough to land you the coveted first interview.
Bilingualism is certainly appealing to global companies. And given that diversity is becoming more and more prevalent in the business world, the odds are that you could use these language skills at home as well as abroad.
Another benefit of learning a second language is that it is an excellent ice breaker. You can discuss a trip abroad to improve your language skills and experience with the culture, whereas talking about your last holiday can seem pretentious.
Bilingualism benefits you career in a number of ways. However, the mix of personal and professional benefits make bilingualism a necessity in the modern world.