With around 43% of the world’s population knowing more than one language, there are many reasons why multilingual speakers are thriving in today’s business landscape. Bilingual business professionals can be stationed overseas, better communicate with international clients or partners, or simply work as language translators.
Here are five reasons speaking more than one language will help you meet those business career goals.
1. It will improve your employability
We live in an increasingly globalised world and companies are constantly expanding overseas and dealing with clients from all over the world. Between two candidates with the same skillset and experience, the person who is bilingual is much more likely to get the job.
According to the Guardian Jobs website, jobs ranging from Marketing Manager to PA often require applicants to speak a foreign language. If you want to get your foot in the door of an established business, having second language proficiency could be the way to do it.
2. It will open up new markets
Research carried out by the Economist pointed out that by 2050 at least half the world’s population will speak English. That may sound like a lot, but it still leaves billions that do not speak English, and thus are more likely to spend money on their own country’s produce. For these customers, bilingual businesses still have the opportunity to corner the market.
Translation experts Global Voices say speaking different languages can hugely help businesses expand into new markets. With Brexit redrawing international trade boundaries, businesses in the UK need second languages more than ever to communicate with foreign markets in their own language.
3. It improves character judgement
It’s busy. You’re dealing with several clients at once when a colleague hits you with a question you didn’t expect.
Feeling the pressure of the entire company’s future on your shoulders, you make an irrational decision which you instantly regret.
If you had learnt another language, you could have made the right decision, according to a study from the University of Chicago.
This study say bilinguals are more confident with their choices after thinking it over in the second language and seeing whether their initial conclusions still stand up. Being able to analyse a situation twice over in an instant has innumerable advantages for a businessperson. Learning a second language may give you this ability.
4. It improves multitasking ability
Multilingual people are more skilled than their monolingual counterparts at switching between two systems of speech, writing, and structure. According to a study from the Pennsylvania State University, this “juggling” skill makes them good multitaskers, because they can easily switch between different structures.
In one study, participants used a driving simulator while doing separate, distracting tasks at the same time. The research found that people who spoke more than one language made fewer errors in their driving.
Put this in a professional context and it is not difficult to see how speaking a second language will make you a better employee or entrepreneur. In the world of business, multitasking is key. Juggling tasks well can make the difference between retiring early after selling your million dollar shares, or filing for bankruptcy.
5. It is good for your health
Health and work go hand in hand. Countless studies show that work related stress can have a huge detrimental effect on the brain. Speaking a second language may not help you keep calm, but it can stave off mental illnesses later in life.
Studies show that adults who only know one language experience the first signs of dementia around the age of 73. Those who speak two languages or more see dementia set in on average at least four years later. This delayed onset is part of the broader anti-aging effect second language proficiency has on the brain. Research from the University of Edinburgh found the cognitive abilities of older bilinguals to be significantly better than those of older monolinguals. Speaking a second language will not only improve business skills in the ways discussed above, it will help you retain those skills for longer.