Learning a second language has so many benefits that it’s hard to count them all. The chances of earning money with languages in business, companies and the public sector are also increasing. Speaking another language “pays off” for your brain and social life too.
Other Languages Spoken in the U.S.
Across homes in the U.S., 231.1 million people speak Spanish. If you’re into learning a second language for work, this is the surest choice.
The number of speakers of Chinese languages often gets underestimated. “Chinese” is divided into divisions like Mandarin and Cantonese. There are almost 2.9 million speakers of Chinese languages. Mandarin is the choice for international business, and understanding Chinese culture helps too.
Other Asian languages
Many speakers of Asian languages live in the U.S., especially on the west coast. Tagalog, Vietnamese and Korean each have between 1.1 and 1.6 million speakers.
Other WORLD Languages
The languages of countries that send fewer emigres matter too. French and French Creole (2+ million), German, Arabic, Russian and Italian are also in demand. People familiar with cultures besides those of Western European countries can help organizations bridge cultures.
Demand for Bilingual, Proficient and Willing-to-Learn Employees
According to the New American Economy, the demand for bilingual employees doubled in five years (prior to pandemic employment disruptions). Moreover, many job postings aren’t entitled “bilingual” or “fluent” but contain indications they’d want candidates who are able to speak a second language. Some hirers don’t list experience with other languages and cultures but know it’s useful.
10 Benefits of Learning a Second Language for Work
1. Expand your job prospects
When your resume doesn’t stand out otherwise, being bilingual could get you shortlisted for a job. When it comes to a digital “pile” of resumes, those hiring may filter for resumes mentioning a second language. They may filter for “bilingual” or “French.” Anything that gets your resume read can help. Bilingual or proficient candidates with relevant qualifications may be selected because it’s clear such employees will become increasingly valuable.
When customers who don’t communicate well in English will go unserved otherwise, companies can be more willing to train bilingual prospects on the rest of the job’s skills. If you’re willing to learn to speak a second language and learn the culture, that can help too.
2. Get paid for learning your language or improving your language skills
If you have language skills already or commit to learning, forward-thinking employers may invest in developing your professional communication skill although you’re not native. They might cover tuition or purchase materials. Joining forces to learn with a colleague can give you a practice partner. At work, a bilingual coworker can provide a leg up, especially if it’s their first language and dialect.
Being in context helps the brain
When you already operate in your context for what you will need to communicate at work, you can streamline your acquisition. If you can speak or write at work while learning your language, you will learn faster. If you work in technology, you can start with vocabulary for software and online matter. Those working in hospitality can already imagine sentences they will need when talking about cuisine, lodging or activities with a native from that part of the world.
Boost your multilingual career
By focusing on being able to communicate on topics you’ll actually need for your career, you’ll stay off a learning treadmill. Then you can function better in the business world or professional world. Your multilingual career can take off from there.
3. Earn a Bilingual Pay Differential
The wonderful news for bilinguals and those willing to learn is that paying speakers of other languages more is becoming a norm. It’s a standard increasingly upheld by rules and regulations. Bilinguals, trilinguals and polyglots should be recognized for their value and compensated accordingly.
Free energy for Professional Advancement
One often overlooked benefit of a pay differential is that bilinguals can do a simpler job and be paid more. That liberates cognitive energy for outside schooling, career-related training or starting a side hustle. It can also just conserve energy.
4. Job Security through a Foreign Language
Once you’re speaking your language and allowing your company or governmental organization to operate (more often) in that foreign language, you create staying power. The U.S. is only getting more diverse. You may get promoted to oversee new hires in your language.
Security and FLEXIBILITY
Another benefit of learning a second language is speakers of popular languages find jobs easily. In the recession after 2008, bilingual individuals were still in demand. With the shift to increasing remote work, those speaking languages that aren’t as popular in their area can find an online career in a language hotspot for that language, or elsewhere in the world.
Personal Benefits When You Speak a Second Language
5. Improve your English & Writing
Learning and working through foreign grammar will teach you the features of English or refresh them. For example, not ending a sentence in a preposition (connector word) can be gleaned from learning a language that has the same rule. You’re bound to improve your English just by learning the categories of words, also known as the parts of speech. By recognizing that many adverbs in English end in -ly, like easily, you’re more likely to use them correctly. That means saying: “We went to the store quickLY” instead of “quick,” every time.
The ability to speak a language of Western Europe will improve your vocabulary. That’s because groups of people in ancient Europe moved around and spread words. Taking Spanish as an example, many common words are actually more sophisticated versions in English. For example: “enough” is suficiente like the more formal version: “sufficient.” In Portuguese, “thank you” is obrigada which is a nice link to the SAT-caliber words: “obligated” and “obliged” in English.
Languages of Western Europe that expand English vocabulary
6. Better Memory
Languages are famous for giving your memory exercise. An often overlooked language skill is the act of “recalling.” People shouldn’t just study words. They must execute many attempts at trying to remember them. Such foreign language skills help in recalling other topics. That’s why older people learn a second language for exercise for their brain, as well as its ability to provide a global and cultural education.
7. Better Multitasking Ability
With new language skills come better multitasking abilities and other cognitive skills. Compared to those who speak only one language, bilinguals have better cognitive load management. This lets bilinguals filter information quicker for improved decision-making.
Bilinguals can also decode information better. That’s a fancy way of saying the brain converts facts and numbers into usable information faster.
8. Networking Opportunities
Of course, speaking a new language can advance a career in and of itself. But the ability to connect in a different language can bring a host of new opportunities. Don’t forget that business owners who only speak one language may need a multilingual person to vet other prospects’ language skills. Not every business can afford to test candidates or has realized such services exist yet.
9. Learn Together
You’re more likely to reach your language-learning goals with the accountability of your employer’s investment–or your partnership with a study buddy. By studying with a friend, you have someone with whom to practice. It’s more fun too. Studying a language is great for children and seniors, and can strengthen intergenerational relationships.
10. New Friendship Opportunities
But speaking or studying a language isn’t all about money or connections! The fun part is making new friends. You don’t have to be fluent to meet people who can show you cool music or cook authentic cuisine. Who knows, they may be fascinated by your run-of-the-mill American hamburger-making skills!
BONUS: #11 – Travel Opportunities When You Speak a Second Language
After learning a second language, you might be able to travel as part of your career. Many people who travel for work regularly earn travel points for personal trips. No longer being monolingual may finally push you to take that trip to Germany or France to enjoy a language and culture you’ve always wanted to experience.
Bring the Fun of Speaking Another Language to Work!
The benefits of learning a second language will compound. Between job opportunities, improved wages, brain enhancement and better English skills, you’ll join more sought-after prospects and have better-staying power than if you had remained monolingual. When adding in opportunities for networking, new friendships and studying with friends or family, you’ll get a boost in your work social life and your regular social life. When you speak more than one language, traveling for work or pleasure can broaden your horizons.