In recent years, the demand for bilingual talent has increased significantly across industries in the U.S. According to New American Economy, employers have added jobs targeting bilingual employees at higher rates than for U.S. workers overall and are seeking employees who speak multiple languages for both low- and high-skilled positions. The demand is particularly notable in industries such as finance, healthcare, and other areas in which human interaction is an integral component of the job. With more than one in five individuals in the U.S. speaking a language other than English in the home, these trends are likely to continue. As we work to build bridges between cultures at Cool & Associates LLC, we’ve observed firsthand the advantages of equipping our clients and their teams with language learning skills, on both personal and professional levels!
Bilingual Employees Enable Growth and Efficiency
Hiring bilingual or multilingual employees has extensive benefits for a business. Some of these advantages seem obvious—for example, the potential to reach and connect with new markets. In an increasingly globalized world, cross cultural communication can give your business a serious leg up in terms of expansion—whether that be internationally or in diversified local markets. Having an employee on board that speaks the language of potential customers can certainly be a cost-saver, but more importantly can also foster authentic connections and thus increase your bottom line. Ultimately, having a linguistically diverse team enables you to conduct business more efficiently across complex markets.
Additionally, bilingual employees tend to outperform monolinguals in certain skill sets. According to a study conducted by Penn State, bilinguals are better at prioritizing tasks and working on multiple projects at a time. They are also shown to be able to decipher key information and disregard irrelevant content more efficiently and to have more rational thought processes and thus improved decision-making abilities. These cognitive advantages can be attributed to the natural mental juggling they do when negotiating between multiple languages. These skills are highly valued by employers, as they present the potential to increase productivity across disciplines.
Another benefit of learning a foreign language is that it can result in being more open-minded and accepting of other cultures. Hiring bilingual employees and encouraging language learning amongst your staff can promote a more inclusive work environment. Furthermore, research shows that 70% of employees who participate in language training feel more confident in their work and interactions both internally with their team and externally with customers, partners, and clients. Employees who receive language training also report feeling rewarded and engaged, leading to increased likelihood of employee retention.
Language Learning Propels Career Success
There is no doubt that being bilingual increases your career opportunities. The future of work is global, and companies are looking to hire bilingual or multilingual employees. Not only does speaking another language open doors for a wider variety of positions, but it also enables you to access both career advancement and financial mobility within a company. According to Forbes, an individual’s proficiency in another language can directly impact the prospect of landing a job interview, getting extended a job offer, and being recommended for a promotion or a raise.
As discussed above, the advantages of being bilingual improve your profile as an employee beyond the language skills themselves. In addition to the cognitive advantages of improved prioritization, multi-tasking, and decision-making, studies show that bilingualism enables access to new perspectives and solutions, thus leading to more creative thinking. The perks of learning another language go beyond professional development— the enhanced mental skills associated with bilingualism are shown to protect from certain diseases related to aging such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Tips for Language Learning
So, are you ready to learn another language? Of course, there are traditional approaches—enrolling in language learning courses or taking the jump to move to a foreign country and learning via immersion. But not everyone has the time to commit to formal classes, or the desire and ability to uproot their entire life. Try making your learning bite-sized and incorporating it into your daily routine. Leveraging technology can be extremely effective. Waiting in line? Sitting on the subway? Instead of scrolling on social media, try taking this time to practice on mobile apps such as Duolingo, Mondly, Rosetta Stone, or Babbel. You can also try out Toucan, a free browser extension that makes language learning immersive by translating words and phrases while you browse the web. As you advance your skills, challenge yourself to read at least one article from the morning news in the language you’re learning!
Whether you’re an individual looking to level up your career or a business owner striving to expand your company’s reach and improve your team’s efficiency, the benefits of bilingualism are increasingly apparent in our rapidly globalizing world: enhanced mental agility, deepened connections, and increased job satisfaction. Being able to speak a second language matters.