For many people language learning is more than just a hobby. It is a route to a better job, career and life. We’ve been celebrating the power of languages to change working lives with the help of the expat organisation, InterNations.
InterNations members and Rosetta Stone learners work all over the world, often in countries where they have to learn languages to live and work successfully. Here’s what some of them had to say about language learning, how its affects their daily lives, their business lives and their chances in the employment market.
“Learning a language takes a lot of patience, but eventually the process of learning itself becomes a fun habit and you reach a point where you just enjoy becoming better and better. It’s like this with every skill – but languages I find are particularly thrilling, because not only do they build verbal and the auditive skills, they are also excellent brain trainers”
Ernestine Löwenstein was born in Berlin but has lived in places as far afield as Vienna and Colchester. She works in financial administration and languages have helped her secure work in several different locations. In fact even at home Ernestine found having foreign languages essential to her career. “In my first job in Berlin, professional English was a prerequisite and without it I don’t think I’d have found a job as quickly.”
“One unexpected benefit of enduring these language challenges was the way it prepared me for the difficulty of doing business in China. Two years after I began studying Mandarin Chinese at a local university in Xinjiang, I transitioned to a business visa. Starting a company and developing an income stream from scratch is hard at home; doing it in a foreign country is downright crazy.”
“I continue to study Mandarin Chinese every day. Whether I’m picking up new vocabulary through conversations on the street or reviewing old vocabulary via phone apps on the bus, the learning never ends.”
Josh Summers lives in China’s remote western region of Xinjiang where he has had to learn the language to survive and do business.
“So, I bought little phrase books for the countries I visited and taped courses for learning French, listening to language tapes in my truck as I travelled. This became a great past-time, not only helping me navigate round Europe, but making the journey go by quicker as well.”
“Thirty-three countries and three continents later, I still love travelling and I look forward to using my improved language skills on my next holiday later this year, or indeed, in my next adventure career-wise.”
Pete has spent his life on the road, learning as he drives.
“Many years ago, I was hired by an NGO that hosted Russian-American intercultural exchanges because I spoke Russian. And my Spanish helped when an Ecuadorian friend asked me to join him in establishing a new English-language institute in the village I lived in.”
“I’m back in my home country (the US) now, and almost every job description for interesting positions where I live , from entry-level to management, lists being ‘bilingual’ as a requirement.”
Rachel Eve Radway is a writer, editor and consultant who has lived and worked in several countries, including Russia and Austria.
“Both my sister and I went to international schools and came out with several different languages. These languages were the best thing I got from my education. It opens up your world. I travelled to Germany every year (on exchange programmes from her German school). Now every child travels, but back then it wasn’t so common.””
Barbara Wagner has used her excellent English and German skills to not only to thrive in the corporate world, but also to write her own travel blog.
Have languages helped you to find work? We’d love to hear your stories too. Tell us about it in the comments section below
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