Some unexpected career benefits of bilingualism

Career Ladder

It seems like most people would choose to be multilingual if they could.  After all, in addition to making things like travel or impressing a date easier, speaking another – or many other – language(s) has also been found to change and improve certain brain functions, and even fight the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. And then there’s the fact that fluency in another language is likely to give you the edge when it comes to getting a job.  It also means more career opportunities to begin with: fields like translation and interpreting are experiencing a boom right now.

But guess what?  There’s even more to it than that.  Being bilingual or multilingual can also get you some career benefits you might not have considered, like:

– More clients.

When we think about bilingualism and business, it’s often in an international context.  But while a multinational corporation definitely wants multilingual employees, even small US businesses could find it in their interest to have some staff that speak something besides English.  According to the US Census Bureau, a number of foreign languages spoken in the US are on the rise, including Spanish, South Asian, and African languages.  Being able to communicate with these groups in the language they feel most comfortable using would be a major asset for any company.  And, among other things, it’s likely to attract business from these communities.

-Free travel – and other perks!
So, your company needs to send someone to the Tokyo branch, and you’re fluent in Japanese?  Chances are there’s a free trip in your future!  Even if your company doesn’t seem to interact much with its international offices, you never know what could come up, whether it’s a major corporate event in a faraway land, or even an all-expenses-paid night out on the town, with you as a guide for your international colleagues.

– Change your job…without leaving your company.
Just about any company out there is looking for bilingual or multilingual employees. But speaking another language isn’t just something that increases your chances of getting hired; once you’re working, it can also allow you to change jobs within your company.  Take this example of an ad agency that has a Spanish-language branch. I’d imagine that if you’re a bilingual ad exec experiencing some English-language ennui, you could see about transferring there, and finding your creativity reborn in a new language.

– Make more money.

While being bilingual or multilingual is likely to give you an edge when it comes to getting hired, it doesn’t automatically mean that you’ll be raking in big bucks, of course.  Luckily, speaking another language can help you supplement your income, as this article points out.  Outside work, you can take on projects like tutoring or translating, which will give you extra money on the side.

If you’ve been thinking about learning another language, hopefully this list has motivated you.  It’s never too late to get started.  Why not take a few minutes right now to look up some language learning programs and resources and find one that would work for you?  Then, why not take the plunge and sign up, buy, or check it out of your local library?  Or, even easier, click here to find out about aiaTranslations’ language programs, which include courses specifically focused on speaking, pronunciation, writing, presentations, or business.   At the very least, trying to learn another language will give your brain a workout.  And if things go well, it could totally change your job – and your life.

Alysa Salzberg

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