Foreign languages and career opportunities

Consider learning a foreign language and utilize it for your career.

Variety of language books

Spanish. French. Mandarin Chinese. American Sign Language. What do these languages have in common? Outside of English, they are some of the other languages that are also spoken in the United States. For some U.S. citizens, one of these languages is their native language, and for some citizens, it is a second or third language. There are more languages beyond the ones listed I just listed that are useful within the U.S. and for connecting globally. Learning another language can be an exciting challenge. It can open doors to a new world and provide benefits in life and for a person’s career.

Lead with Languages illustrates how a second language or being bilingual can be an advantage for someone in their career. First, the demand for bilingual professionals is rising exponentially. Between 2010 and 2015, the number of job postings in the U.S. specifically geared toward bilingual candidates more than doubled. Also, employers are seeking professionals who can communicate with customers in new and expanding overseas markets and with the foreign born population here in the U.S.

Overall, learning a second language can advance your career and can be a significant competitive advantage that sets others apart from their competition for jobs. Not only does a second language benefit your career but it has other benefits, too, such as boosting brainpower, improving your first language, sharpening your mind, increasing your networking skills, building self-confidence and boosting your creativity.

When someone thinks of career options for bilinguals or multilinguals, they may think of a career as an interpreter and translator or as a teacher, which is true. Knowing a second or multiple languages can take someone down multiple career paths. Other than an interpreter or translator and a teacher, Berlitz gives a list of other careers that bilinguals and multilinguals will excel in. They are:

  • Customer service representative
  • Hospitality manager
  • Human resources specialist
  • Flight attendant
  • Writer/journalist
  • Healthcare professional
  • Social worker
  • Marketing manager
  • Information technology consultant

To prepare for a career as a bilingual or multilingual, consider taking classes in a foreign language you are interested in. As a following up to the class, participate in service learning and community service activities in communities where the language is spoken. This would assist in practicing to learn the language and learn more about the culture. Many colleges and community colleges have majors in different foreign languages. A student can also minor in a foreign language to continue to their language skills as a bilingual or multilingual.

Another step to prepare for career preparation as a bilingual or multilingual is to participate in international study abroad programs in college or high school. In Michigan, if a student is in high school, they can also check into Michigan 4-H International Exchange Programs through Michigan State University Extension. There are opportunities host students or travel outbound to other counties. This will benefit the participant to learn more about the culture and have experience traveling to another country. It also offers a chance to practice using the language with native speakers.

Overall, learning a foreign language or languages is a benefit for a person and can be utilized in someone’s career. Take advantage of the opportunities in school or through community programs to learn this skill and use it to benefit you for your career and for yourself personally.

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