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Why You Should Learn a Second Language

Apr 6, 2012 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Columnist | 0 Comments

Let’s face it—English is rapidly becoming the language of international business. Chances are, many of the people you meet and interact with at work will speak English—to at least some degree of fluency—even if you’re working in a highly international environment.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take an online language course. Here are just a few reasons why speaking English isn’t enough—even though most others you meet will speak it as well.

Because it sets you apart in the job market

Especially the American job market, where many people—unless they’re lucky enough to have been raised in bilingual homes—don’t speak another language fluently. There is never a case where speaking another language will hurt your resume—and there are many, many cases where it will help. Business is becoming more and more international, and those who speak languages other than English will have an edge in almost any job market.

Because it gives you a specialized understanding of a new culture

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Learning a language isn’t easy—it takes substantial time, effort, and dedication. But the payoff can be worth it.


Speaking another language doesn’t just help you understand what people say. It helps you understand how they think—and how they see the world. This can be eminently useful in intercultural and international marketing positions, but can also help you anywhere you may be dealing with significant populations of people who speak another language as their primary—everywhere from education to business to medicine. Having a specialized understanding of a certain subset of a company’s target market or community will definitely help you land the job—and do it well.

Because it makes your world bigger

Learning a new language isn’t just good for your job hunting. It’s also great for travel and experiencing new cultures. True, you can get around in South America without learning Spanish online, in China without knowing Mandarin, or in India without speaking Hindi. But you can’t get off the beaten path, you can’t really connect with the people, and in many cases you’ll have difficulty moving beyond a typical tourist experience to really immerse yourself in a new culture. Learning a new language makes the world a bigger and more interesting place.

Because it gets others to open up to you

In certain circumstances, even if the person you’re speaking with speaks English fluently, you will build a stronger and more trusting relationship with that person if you show you speak his or her language. This can help you anywhere you need to build trust—in work and in life. Because even though a large section of the world speaks English, some struggle with it—and some prefer to speak their own language if given a choice. The world doesn’t often give people a choice—but if you do, it will create a highly positive impression.

Learning a language isn’t easy—it takes substantial time, effort, and dedication. But the payoff can be worth it. Knowing a new language enables you to communicate with people as you never would have before—in a language in which they are completely comfortable. It gives you a cultural understanding you can’t gain any other way, and allows you to move more freely in countries where that language is spoken. In addition, it gives you a distinct edge in a job market that’s becoming increasingly global and multicultural—and sets you apart from the many other jobseekers who only speak English.


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