While learning a new language can require a significant amount of work and effort, it is one of the single most effective ways to give your career a boost, especially if you you’ve been in a rut. Apart from the benefits you can gain internally at your current company, learning a new language also has the potential to unlock more job opportunities, as well as improve overall cognitive function. In short, there are plenty of reasons why becoming multilingual can be a good reason for career development, so let’s cover the top six.
#1 | Open Doors Internally At Your Company
Learning a new language is a great way to create more opportunities for yourself in your current position — especially if your employer is willing to pay for the cost of any language learning programs like Babbel and Rosetta Stone to help you in the learning process. The first benefit is that by knowing how to speak a second or third language, you will be much more likely to be sent on business trips abroad that will require the use of a foreign language. This could give you a leg up over your colleagues, particularly if you express a desire to be involved in such trips.
Another perk is that you can also help save your company some money (and maybe even earn a bonus or raise along the way) by eliminating the need for professional third-party interpreters. Such services are costly, and management generally prefers internal assets anyway.
#2 | Increases Job Opportunities At Home & Abroad
In addition to opening doors internally at your company, learning a new language will give you the ability to pursue new careers at home and abroad. While many government jobs require that you speak a second language, companies all around the world are willing to pay top dollar for multilingual employees.
Take advantage of your multilingual status if you’re looking for a significant career or lifestyle change — you never know what opportunities await when you’re able to expand your job search by entire countries or continents.
#3 | Interpreters Don’t Pick Up Everything
While interpreters are highly-skilled professionals with extensive knowledge in their field, they can be a bit limited in their scope depending on the circumstances. Interpreters often work over the phone or via video calls, which can prevent them from picking up on things like body language and facial movements that can hold significant meaning in a conversation.
Interpreters are also somewhat limited by their responsibilities. They generally operate very by-the-book, translating word-for-word and failing to see the big picture. They won’t read between the lines and pick up implied meanings like an employee would.
#4 | Perceived Intelligence
Not only does learning a new language actually make you smarter, it will also make other people think you are smarter. In places with a relatively homogenous English-speaking majority like the United States (where only 9% of people speak a second language), the ability to speak another language can set you apart from your peers and allow you to leave a lasting impression of your intelligence.
The ability to learn, understand and apply a second (or even third) language implies a certain intellectual bandwidth. This can help you grab attention from recruiters, managers and even jealous peers.
#5 | Learning A New Language Improves Memory
Learning a new language offers cognitive benefits that can help you excel in your career. According to the University of the Potomac, you can “think of learning a language as an exercise for the brain.” Your brain is a muscle that needs exercise just like any other in your body. The more you challenge your brain to do complex tasks like learning a language, the better you will be able to perform other tasks in your day-to-day job duties and pick up on new insights.
Learning a language is an especially good way to exercise your brain because it can help you maintain your memory and executive control as you get later into life. Compared with monolinguals, speakers of more than one language can retain exceptional cognitive capabilities in spite of old age.
#6 | Bilinguals Are Better Multitaskers
In addition to improving your memory, another cognitive benefit of learning a new language is the ability to efficiently multitask. A study from the National Institutes of Health found that bilingual participants were “slower to build vocabulary but better at multitasking than monolinguals.” In other words, you can improve your productivity by simply learning a new language.