Looking to level up in your career in 2022? Learn a new language
It has been said that the “mastery of language affords remarkable power.” And it couldn’t be more true, especially in the modern workplace: According1 to a survey by Forbes, speaking another language could be the defining reason your hirer or manager:
- Extends a job offer to you
- Grants you the prospect of an interview
- Recommends a position to you
- Recommends a pay raise
In fact, of those surveyed who already held a job, 54%2 said knowing another language was important in their current rule, while 35% cited potential career prospects as their main motivation for learning a new language.
Is being effectively bilingual really that big of a deal in the workplace? In a world where 40%3 of people are monolinguals, 43% are bilingual, and 13% are trilingual, our answer is yes, it very much is.
In Singapore, we’re lucky that most of us can speak two languages - but how many of us are actually bilingual enough to talk business in the workplace?
So if you’re toying with the idea of learning a new language in 2022, or simply brushing up on your mother tongue, here are 6 more reasons to do just that:
Bilingualism opens doors around the world
Even if learning a second language does not necessarily translate to a glamorous move to Paris on account of work, learning a new language can help you understand the wants and needs of international colleagues, customers, and partners better, and nullifies the need for a translator. Language skills literally open doors in the global marketplace.
This is clearly exemplified by Switzerland: The country’s multilingual nature accounts for 10%4 of the country’s GDP. The country has 4 national languages: German, French, Italian and Romansh. On the flipside, the UK’s lack of dual language skills costs its economy up to $805 billion per annum.
Being bilingual encourages productivity and multitasking
Apart from adapting to a world that communicates increasingly across different cultures, learning a new language also positively changes cognitive abilities—Research6 has shown that the bilingual brain has better attention and task-switching capabilities than the monolingual brain.
A study conducted by Penn State University also revealed that bilingual individuals have better abilities when it comes to screening and filtering critical and irrelevant information. These abilities are widely attractive to employers in various industries, such as tech, product development, or even design and marketing, where the ability to multitask strategically is a much-needed skill.
So if you’re looking for a career in these industries, you bet it’s time to buckle up on your language skills.
Speaking a second language can improve the quality of stakeholder relationships
A 2013 study conducted by the University of Melbourne revealed that trust levels at work were directly affected by native language proficiency. Simply put, stakeholders trust you more when you speak their language.
Also, professionals who learn a second language learn to walk in the shoes of a speaker of a different language, which in turn makes the native language speaker feel understood and listened to, and overall, improves relationships by leaps and bounds. Think about the last time you had a difficult conversation with a client - did it get better after you expressed understanding of the client’s goals?
Starting and maintaining good stakeholder relationships are crucial for establishing yourself in any industry, and learning a new language can help you achieve your career goals faster than you’d imagined. Being proficient in your key stakeholders’ native language may make you their preferred liaison, for example, and could eventually be a key factor in your superior’s decisions regarding promotions and pay rises.
Learning a second language increases your earning potential
Businesses worldwide know that acquiring multilingual staff with strong language and communication skills is crucial, and they’re willing to invest in doing so. The proof is undeniable: Bilingual employees earn up to 20%7 more than their monolingual peers.
According to the results of a 2010 Canadian study8, bilingual men earned 3.6% more than their English-only colleagues, whilst bilingual women earned 6.6% more. And while this might come as a shock, the stats remained true even if bilingual individuals did not use their second language at work.
Perhaps, knowing a second language is seen as a symbol of cognitive power, a good attitude and a good education - and we all know impressions are paramount at work.
It opens up language-based work opportunities
It seems that bilingual remote work opportunities have spiked by 30%9 since the COVID-19 pandemic. Translators, interpreters, teachers, and other jobs that require bilingual or multilingual skills have seen a huge increase as a result of the pandemic, and whilst a language-based work opportunity might not be in the cards for you right now, you never know when your language skills could come in handy.
On that note, make it a point to practice speaking, writing, and listening to different languages everyday. Even if it doesn’t help your career, bilingualism is thought to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s11. Research suggests that language does not only affect the mind, but also modifies the brain even in older age.
Singapore is the perfect place to learn a new language
Singapore’s business interests span across different continents and regions, and amazingly, our tiny country is listed as the European Union’s largest commercial partner in South East Asia. Global consultancy Towers Watson Asia also reports: Singapore houses the Asia-Pacific headquarters of 41% of 319 international Fortune 500 companies. With such great international organisations located in Singapore, you’ll be a fool to not brush up or learn a second language.
Learning a new language is not always easy - especially as an adult. If you find yourself a little lost or disheartened, we’re here to help: Lingo not only provides our clients with language skills, but also offers corporate training programs for those who would love to hone crucial conversation skills for the workplace.
6. Marian, V., & Shook, A. (2012). The cognitive benefits of being bilingual. Cerebrum : the Dana forum on brain science, 2012, 13.