How does knowing a foreign language help your career?

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How does knowing a foreign language help your career?

How does knowing a foreign language help your career?


So how many languages do you know?

So how many languages do you know? Image: Thinkstock

Whenever asked to fill out any personal data form, we are required to mention the languages we are proficient in — both verbal as well as written. We desis generally tick the basic ones – Hindi, English and our mother tongue. But not many of us add a foreign language to the box. Do we?

There are roughly 6.5K spoken languages in the world. And we settle for an average of knowing just three? Do you know the possible (and exponential) career growth you can have if you know one or few of the most popular languages? The world becomes your playground, quite literally so.

Career-wise, the more your CV stands out from the rest, the better. That’s a rat’s race we all are part of. But knowing a foreign language such as Spanish or Mandarin Chinese will definitely open new doors for you if you someday chose to be in a line of work that requires you to interact with global clients. Or simply become a translator and work for the embassies. 

Language skills are always helpful

Language skills are always helpful GIF: Giphy

Shedding light on why it is quite important in today’s competitive world is Niyati Bapat – MSc in Organisational and Social Psychology from the London School of Economics and founder of Lingo Nest, a language consultancy firm which offers training in French, Spanish, English and Hindi.

She says, “Globalisation has dissolved boundaries. As more and more individuals are interacting and working with people from different countries and cultures, it has become important to know and speak different languages. In fact, the need to learn and know foreign languages is stronger than ever today. We often get calls from individuals wanting to learn a foreign language because they are now a part of a global team which requires them to interact with foreign clients.”

Age is no barrier while learning a language. But parents and schools have traditionally laid importance on learning a new language at quite an early age. Niyati continues, “Today, many schools have introduced foreign languages to ensure that children get a head start and the subsequent benefits of learning the language. It is often said that ‘learning another language is not only about learning different words for the same things but about learning a different way of thinking about things’ and I couldn’t agree more. As we learn a new language, we enable ourselves to look at the world with a difference, with a better perspective.”

Knowing more than one language definitely helps

Knowing more than one language definitely helps GIF: Giphy

But practically speaking, how helpful is it? Talking about that is 25-year-old Prerna Agarwal, who presently works in the business development leg of Katalyst Solutions and is pursuing Spanish (Level B1) at Instituto Cervantes (Connaught Place, Delhi).

Prerna feels that it may not have helped her so far, but after her B2 level training, there will be ample job options to choose from. “On an international forum, it helps you to not be an isolated person or an outsider and the feeling is amazing,” she says. Prerna also tell us how she struck up a conversation with an Italian couple at an international business convention in China because she knew Spanish, which is slightly similar, but not the same.

She adds, “Knowing Spanish helps me in knowing about their culture more. I can watch Spanish movies and hear songs. That’s definitely more than humming the single word Despacito out of the whole song. I even love to read Spanish books. An adaptation is not always fun, and reading a book in its original language is a much more enriching experience.”

Raise your hand if you, too, cannot repeat anything but 'Despacito' in the song

Raise your hand if you, too, cannot repeat anything but ‘Despacito’ in the song GIF: Tenor

27-year-old Jinal Bhatt agrees and adds that even learning the right language is important. She has learnt French in junior college and Spanish from Academia de Español. But sadly, Jinal has not been able to put her language proficiency to full use so far.

She says, “Considering that my jobs have always been about the English language, I have not put these foreign languages to much use. But I guess that depends on the languages one learns. Maybe if it were Chinese or German, I would’ve probably used my language skills in my first job, where I worked as an editor for non-native English writers.”

Yours truly had done a basic six-month Communicative Spanish course from Ramakrishna Mission, School of Language (Kolkata) back in college, but sadly even I have not been able to put it to much use. Mainly because my line of work doesn’t require me to.

But an added skill is always a plus and never a negative. In today’s world, it undoubtedly gives you an edge over your competitors. And who doesn’t want that?

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