Written by guest contributor Ted Meyer
Language acquisition is one of the safest investments you’ll ever make. Why? Because learning a language gives you more than just cultural and grammatical chops - it turns you into an infinitely more marketable asset. Learning a second (or a third, or fourth) language can open doors you may not have realized were there!
Multilingual opportunities have expanded alongside globalization, and this means that there are more jobs incorporating foreign languages than ever. There are now many industries that being bilingual is all but a prerequisite. For example, if you want to work for the Department of Defense, the CIA or the Foreign Service, you will immediately stand out from the hyper-competitive crowd if you already speak another language. It’s a huge advantage for these secure, high-paying jobs!
The correlation may not be as direct, but multilinguality can also be essential to getting jobs in the private business sector. Most firms these days are linked to other parts of the world; for example, they might have significant capital from foreign investors (or are courting it), or have plants overseas, or could even be owned by a foreign company. Oftentimes, you may not be aware of the value of your multilingual skills to a firm (it’s not as though their designs are always made public, after all).
There is also currently a boom in jobs that are focused specifically on foreign language skills, like interpreters and translators. This trend is true across all market sectors. The federal government, as well as multinational institutions like the U.N., are always in need of interpreters and translators, but there are also rapidly expanding opportunities in the private sector. Online retailers that operate websites in other languages, for example, are frequently hiring translators. Multinational retail is growing daily, and that is constantly affording new opportunities in for bilingual and multilingual individuals.
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Another booming language industry? Multilingual education. If you know a foreign language, it’s increasingly easy to make a career as a teacher. With the same notions in mind as this article, parents are realizing that bilingual education from a young age is a smart move for their youngsters. The industry is also strong for adult language learners. Many adults, like yourself, seek to learn a new language to advance in their industry. Others might be recent immigrants and want to learn English, but need a teacher who speaks their initial language to help them get started. These kinds of customers often turn to places like Verbling (which is always looking for qualified teachers!) for their language acquisition needs.
The same industry can also help you move to another country. If you’re dying to live in Italy but are unsure about your professional prospects, you’ll probably be able to find a job teaching English - but you’d want to learn Italian first to engage with your students when they falter. Alternately, learning a foreign language can help you get jobs for which you might be anyways qualified in other countries - it also might help you move there within the company for which you currently work. If you’re a student and looking to join a competitive fellowship in a foreign country, learning the local language will increase your credibility and competitiveness immeasurably.
Most of the principles are the same, but business-related language acquisition can have a somewhat different process from the usual language learning process. An international businessperson, for example, will want to brush up on local business culture and etiquette, in addition to learning vocabulary and grammar. If you’re working in a very specific industry, it might also be important to focus on industry words and terminology that might not come up very early on in your language acquisition trajectory. You also might have to accelerate your timetable; applications and business dealings are time-sensitive, and you may have to quickly learn the specific things you need to know. In general, business language education is a bit faster and more specialized to your needs.
If the job you’re dying to land requires a second language, there’s no need to fret! Verbling has flexible, affordable programs that can give a significant language boost much faster than you think. And even if not, I guarantee that if you can put “Spanish speaker” or “fluent in Mandarin” on your resume, you’ll be considered for positions you wouldn’t have been otherwise. What have you got to lose?
If you're ready to try your hand at teaching now, why not apply to teach with Verbling now? (verbling.com/teach) Not ready to apply yet? No worries, brush up on your language skills with another teacher or practice with other users in our community practice groups (link)