The Benefits of Learning a New Language for Your Career and Beyond

Since the Irish economy is heavily dependent on its capacity to sell goods and services globally, it is not surprising that there is a great demand for bilingual and multilingual candidates in the employment market. The need for bilingual workers in customer service and sales roles is particularly high. According to the Irish Mirror, 4% of total job postings on Jobs.ie have a foreign language requirement, and there has been a 40% increase in demand between 2018 and 2019 for jobs requiring non-European languages, such as Chinese.

Despite this demand, however, Eurostat reported that only 64.8% of people aged 25 to 64 knew one or more foreign languages in 2016 – the lowest amongst EU member states. Furthermore, even though multilingualism is a founding principle of the European Union, speaking two or more foreign languages is still considered a privilege in many EU countries, with the European Data Journalism Network finding that only 1 in 5 Europeans are able to speak two languages other than their mother tongue.

Given the high demand and the relatively low supply of people with important language skills, the team at Head Hunt International encourages you to start learning a new language in order to increase your career opportunities, broaden your network and expand your cultural knowledge. But if you’re still not convinced, below we provide some exciting benefits of being bilingual, or even better – multilingual – for your career and beyond.

Why YOU Should Start Learning a New Language Today!

Increase the Chances of Getting the Job of Your Dreams

Speaking to the Irish Mirror,  General Manager of Jobs.ie, Chris Paye, stated that “In today’s competitive job market, an extra language competency can often be the key differentiator between you and another eligible candidate.”

As the world becomes more globalised and companies continue to internationalise, employers look for candidates who can help them fit in seamlessly into new markets and new cultures in order to better serve their customers in new territories. A candidate knowledgeable in languages essentially provides the organisation with greater flexibility and agility, which is essential to remain competitive in the global marketplace. Even when job descriptions don’t have a language requirement, many companies explicitly list it as a preference that would be highly advantageous for the candidate to have. So if you’re looking for new ways to improve your CV, upskilling in languages is the perfect option!

Greater Opportunity to Travel

Tired of the cold and wet weather in Ireland? Consider learning languages spoken in warmer regions and take your career abroad! Through the knowledge of languages, you have a greater opportunity to pick your desired work location and can choose to immerse yourself in a new culture while continuing to develop your career.  Languages provide you with greater freedom, essentially, to be a traveller, to see more of the world and to explore a greater variety of job opportunities with both multinational and local companies in other countries. With languages the world truly is your oyster!

Increased Networking and Relationship Building Potential

In today’s globalised world, businesses are continuously looking for ways to establish networks abroad and create advantageous relationships. Employees who speak a foreign language are a means of doing this. The added benefits of learning a foreign language is exposure to the culture or cultures in which the language is spoken.  English may be the lingua franca in many countries, and consumer preferences may be submerging, but cultural differences still remain relevant today. Learning languages will assist you in becoming cross-culturally competent, a skill that is both professionally and personally rewarding due to the positive relationships you will build and the greater variety of contacts you can add to your network.

Improved Performance

Evidence suggests that learning a new language can help to improve brain function, as researchers found that people proficient in two languages performed better at attention tests and showed higher levels of concentration compared to those who spoke only one language. Furthermore, according to an academic article by researchers Dr. Thomas Bak and Dr. Suvarna Alladi: “Bilinguals negotiate constantly between different sounds, words, concepts, grammatical structures and social norms associated with the languages they speak. This is bound to provide permanent, intensive and versatile mental training.” For this reason, learning a second language can help delay the onset of mental illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Learning a new language is thus a lot like giving your brain a workout to ensure it stays fit and healthy, and can perform to its optimum.

According to TED educator, Mia Nacamulli, some advantages of being multilingual are even physical, as people who speak multiple languages have a higher density of the grey matter containing most of the brain’s neurons and synapses. Furthermore, people who learn a second language as adults exhibit less emotional bias and a more rational approach confronting problems in the second language than in their own. Therefore, learning a second language not only facilitates communication when conducting business abroad, but can also make it easier to create solutions for the unique risks and challenges that come with international business.

It’s Fun!

Many people view learning languages in the context of passing a test – whether that was Leaving Cert French or their last job interview. Some avoid foreign languages altogether due to concerns about mispronunciation, confusion between languages, and of course – due to the grave fear of grammar. But learning a new language should not be a tick-the-box exercise, and while there is certainly a lot of hard work involved in mastering a language, there is also many ways in which it can be enjoyable. Consider it an opportunity to experiment with sounds, words and sentences and look at it as a personal challenge to be embraced. Don’t get held back by the grammar; begin with learning the most common words and look for opportunities to actually begin speaking. As stated by Benny the Irish Polyglot, who began learning languages as an adult and now speaks seven of them: “Studying will never help you speak a language”. Therefore, leave the textbooks aside as you start on your journey. Instead, consider joining a language society on MeetUp or making use of apps like Babbel and Tandem which allow you practise having actual conversations. Furthermore, learning a language together can be much more interesting and provide you with the motivation and confidence you need to finally tackle the grammar. Begin by making language learning a hobby, not an obligation!

We wish you happy language learning –  Viel Glück, Bonne Chance and Buena Suerte!

Are you bilingual or multilingual? Get in touch with us now to see the possible opportunities available to you. We always look forward to hearing from you!

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