How learning a language can boost your career

In this guest post, Reed Jane writes about how language learning can boost your career.


In a globalized world, nations and economies no longer exist independently but are interconnected. This shift is reflected in the workplace, where global expansion and workplace collaboration are increasingly becoming the norm.

A globally-oriented workforce has people coming from diverse cultures and backgrounds, so it’s essential to speak different languages in order to communicate effectively and work together. Learning a language doesn’t have to be painful — it’s possible to self-study effectively even if you’re busy and you can reach a high level in just a few years, so it’s an investment that can pay off quickly.

Here are some ways language learning can help boost your career.

This is a guest post by Reese Jane. As a relatively new science writer, I remember the struggle to get my first clips and for that reason I’m always open to guest posts from other writers — both seasoned and aspiring ;)

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Language learning offers a competitive advantage

Learning and becoming fluent in a different language gives you a head start by increasing your job prospects. A survey on the workplace value of foreign language shows that 9 out of 10 US-based employers rely on employees who speak another language aside from English. The demand is reportedly higher for Spanish, Chinese, and Japanese language speakers.

Being multilingual communicates to employers that you know how to take calculated risks in order to learn an unfamiliar language and acquire a new skill. It also shows you have a goal-driven mindset, since a language takes years to learn and master.

Speaking another language fuels productivity and creativity

Once you’re in the workplace, speaking another language can translate to higher productivity. In the same way your brain multitasks when translating, speaking, and listening to two or more languages, you gain the cognitive ability to switch between tasks and focus despite the busy environment.

Language proficiency also demonstrates an understanding of its surrounding contexts and belief systems. For example, the core value of respect can be gleaned from languages with honorific systems like Korean and Japanese. Workplace diversity thus becomes beneficial when multilingual employees do not only speak each other’s language, but learn to see the world through each other’s eyes. This access to a wide range of views and perspectives makes it possible to develop creative, imaginative, and unconventional solutions to workplace challenges.

Language proficiency expands career specialization and location

Multilingualism can be leveraged to carve a space for yourself in specialized fields. Working in international relations, in particular, requires you to examine the interactions between countries and how they affect one another. Rather than relying on translation where so much context can be lost, proficiency in another country’s native language offers you direct access to its culture, history, and political affairs.

Language proficiency also ensures that you do not remain rooted in one place. You can explore jobs where you move from one country to another, just like diplomats, journalists, international lawyers, and humanitarian workers. You also appeal to global companies or multilateral organizations like the UN, who search for individuals who can represent them in different parts of the world.

Foreign language skills increase your earning potential

Beyond getting hired and working across the globe, being fluent in another language can boost your income. Research shows that bilingualism can raise your pay between 2 to 20 percent, depending on your specific job and employer.

The pay differential can be due to foreign language speakers building and maintaining working relationships with international clients. If your employer is aiming to capture new markets or demographics, your linguistic and cultural knowledge can contribute to these expansion efforts.

Being multilingual does not only help in laying the foundation for your career but more importantly ensures that you progress and achieve greater heights. Learning a new language allows you to connect with others in a global community and makes you a valuable resource wherever you go.

This is a guest post by Reed Jane.

Reed Jane is a freelance career development consultant and a learning advocate. She is also an aspiring writer who loves to share helpful tips on personal and professional growth. In her spare time, she loves to learn about anything under the sun - new languages, crocheting, and baking!

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