It’s a great moment to boost your CV with a foreign language. Language skills are attractive to employers across a range of industries and disciplines, even when they are not directly requested in a job spec. Fluency in another language proves intelligence and a capacity for hard work as well as a breadth of interests. If you are looking to future proof your career, here are three great reasons why learning a language is a good idea, as well as some tips as to which language you might want to choose.
In figures collated by Eurostat (the statistical office of the European Union), there is a clear correlation shown between more professional-grade jobs and knowledge of one or more second language. Of course, this includes countries with smaller economies where language skills are a necessity in higher-paying jobs – and often a criteria for university entrance. However, even in the UK, the trend was the same with professional-grade employees showing considerable greater linguistic capacity than those in more unskilled jobs (Only 20% reported having no language skills v. over 50% in ‘elementary occupations’). So there you go: a clear correlation between linguistic and career success.
While English might be the most widely spoken language in the world, its predominance is likely to decline in the coming years. Chinese is by far the most widely spoken as a native language. A report by Ethnology.com cited by the British Council gives the total speaking Mandarin Chinese as a first language at 848 million versus only 335 million with English (into third place behind Spanish). This suggests a certain vulnerability for English remaining the lingua franca of the world, especially when coupled with predictions by many that the economic importance of the Anglo-sphere is in decline.
The internet reflects this and while English remains the prime language of the online world, it does so by a smaller fraction than you might think. 25% of the world’s internet usage is in English versus 19% for Chinese.
As Brexit casts a shadow over our relations with the – largely English proficient European Union – it could become more and more important for us to tackle languages like Arabic or Mandarin.
The British Council’s languages of the future report defines the most important languages for our nation’s future by scoring all the world’s major languages against core criteria – economic, social, and cultural – some of which have been mentioned here.
The result is a list that, while it still sees European languages predominate, has many non-European languages in it as well. Languages we might be well advised to pursue to give us a competitive edge in uncertain times.
Why not give your career prospects a boost and get learning now. Rosetta Stone’s immersive, no-translations method is a proven way to tackle less familiar languages. Try it out today with our special offer on 3 months learning.
Language learner, teacher and contributing author to the Rosetta Stone magazine
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