MAKE YOUR LANGUAGES WORK FOR YOU: How being bilingual can help you get ahead!

It is well-acknowledged that one of the best ways to get ahead in your career and broaden your horizons is to learn a foreign language. Whether companies are conducting business overseas or fighting for a larger market share at home, employers are increasingly seeking out bilingual workers. A recent “CareerBuilder.com” keyword search turned up more than 1,000 job postings seeking bilingual applicants in the United States alone.

The more professional contacts you can communicate with, the more versatile and thus more valuable you become. Broadly speaking, Mandarin, English, Spanish and Arabic are some of the most widely spoken tongues in the world. Though it is impossible to ascertain exact figures, estimates for English vary between 250 and 450 million. In terms of languages used most widely in an official capacity, the list is topped by English (57 countries), followed by French at 28, then Arabic, Spanish, Russian and Portuguese.

The lure of living the expat life can also provide strong motivation to acquire a second language, with the United Arab Emirates topping the tables with an expat population of more than 70%. Within Europe, over 30% of Luxembourg’s population is expats, though in terms of quantity, Germany leads the way with over 10 million non-native inhabitants, followed swiftly by France. To stand a chance in the increasingly competitive expat job market amongst the 3 million Britons currently working abroad, developing your language competencies is vital.

The key to making a language work for you is taking a thorough approach. Once you have attained a high enough standard, you must work hard to maintain it. Remember, if you don’t use it, you lose it! This necessitates extra effort outside of the work environment, to avoid it becoming a dormant and unused skill on your CV. Preferred methods vary from person to person and can be tailored to your interests. Enrolling on a conversation exchange programme, for example on http://www.linguapassion.com/?lang=en, can be an enjoyable way to practise and meet like-minded people, whilst other options include watching films and reading novels in the original language.

Although at the outset it may seem like an uphill struggle to attain operational fluency in a foreign language, if you are willing to put in the time now, the long-term value of your linguistic skills cannot be overestimated!

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2 Comments

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