By Gladys Mae
Gladys is the Associate Director of Admissions & Student Services with over 10 years of experience at the International Career Institute.
The world is a globalised and hyper-connected one, and employers are increasingly looking to hire employees who have the ability to connect and communicate with colleagues and customers around the world. This means that learning a second language can make you a valuable commodity in the job market and give you an advantage over other applicants. More importantly, learning another language can expand your educational horizons, allow you to learn about different cultures, and exercise your brain.
Here’s what learning a second language can do for you:
Being fluent in more than one language can make you part of a sought after minority by employers. Multicultural awareness is an in-demand soft skill, and the need for it is only expected to increase exponentially in the next decade. This is because learning another language, and in essence another culture, is critical to understanding and working with an international population.
The Australian census found that only 3.9 million people, or 18% of the population, speak a language other than English. With globalisation on the rise, and only a small pool of candidates with bilingual abilities, learning a second language can bring multiple job opportunities to your door.
Savvy employers know that bilingual employees can strengthen overseas connections while respecting cultural sensitivities. This is due to the fact that if you’re multilingual, you’re more knowledgeable and appreciative of other cultures and perspectives. Being open-minded and understanding cultural nuances can make you irreplaceable to your employer and will enhance your ability to communicate with other people around the world in your industry.
Acquiring the ability to read, write, and speak another language can improve your working memory. This is because it involves exercising the areas of the brain that hold, utilise, and process the information needed to perform tasks in any given moment. Learning a new language also involves the practice and repetition of new words and grammatical rules. Overall memory is enhanced through these processes, helping you to remember sequences and lists better overall.
Whenever we master a new skill, our self-confidence grows. Learning a language will allow you to develop the confidence to not only eventually master another language, but also converse with native and other fluent speakers. It’s important to remember that when speaking or writing in a second language, you’ll make your share of mistakes; however, stepping outside of your comfort zone lets you gain confidence in your abilities.
University of Chicago researchers found that people make more thorough and analytic decisions when thinking problems over in their non-native language, showing the value of learning a second language. Additionally, having knowledge of a second language means you’re more likely to take favorable risks and to not look at a gain or loss scenario through a myopic view.
New languages come with a different set of structures, rules, and words. So through your language studies, your brain compensates by staying more alert and active as it copes with and learns new patterns. This not only keeps your brain active, but also helps you to develop cognitive thinking and problem-solving skills
The ability to handle multiple issues at one time and do so with professionalism is a skill you can develop and strengthen through mastering another language. If you’re multilingual and skilled at switching between languages, you’ll be a more efficient multi-tasker who can successfully perform a job.
Language learning is directly responsible for making the mind sharper and developing a more focused attention span. In addition to this, bilingual adults tend to develop dementia five years later than monolingual adults. As such, learning a new language can improve your mental wellbeing.
Learning a new language can get you a foot in the door for the next job interview, and it can strengthen your mental, memory, and multi-tasking skills.