Should you develop your language skills?

Should you develop your language skills?

There is currently a range of terrific German language jobs available both in London and throughout the UK. As we seek out top-notch candidates to fill these positions, it reminds us, as a multilingual recruitment agency offering language recruitment services that members of our team are often asked a simple question: “Does it really pay to speak another language?” This is asked both by parents, and students, and by folk wondering whether this would be a useful way to spend their free time, building up extra job skills.

We accept that we are biased in this area particularly as our business is language jobs, but our answer is usually a guarded “yes”. Guarded because, to develop the level of language skills required, does take a serious commitment. Sadly, some people occasionally see it as little more than an evening class or two, or online course, to use “when we’re on holiday”.

WHY IT PAYS TO BE SERIOUS ABOUT LEARNING ANOTHER LANGUAGE

Obviously, being bi or multi-lingual allows you to travel more widely in comfort, and enjoy the pleasure of speaking to the people you meet in their native tongue, and this is always appreciated. However, a variety of research projects have revealed through the years a range of other benefits that are offered. Let’s look at five of these:

  • Adults who have been bilingual since they were youngsters tend to be cognitively flexible, and more accepting of changed circumstances. In tests, bilingual people usually complete set tasks more quickly than those who speak only one language.
  • Bilingual children also seem to be able to both problem-solve and switch from one task to another more effectively than their monolingual counterparts.
  • It is also true that even learning another language later on in life helps keep the brain nicely sharpened as you head into old age. These abilities showed both in general intelligence and in reading skills once people were well into their seventies.
  • Taking this a step further, there is now some initial research that suggests bilingual individuals who develop Alzheimer’s may tend to do so a few years later than those with only one language.
  • Multilingual’s have also proved to function more effectively and quickly as word processors. Interestingly, this skill increased when words from two different languages had virtually the same meaning.

HOW LANGUAGE CAN ADD DISTANCE AND DETACHMENT

Another interesting finding came to light during a study a couple of years ago. It seems that people who are fluent in more than one language tend to make better decisions. Researchers at the University of Chicago have discovered that if people think in a language different from their own native tongue then this adds some distance to their considerations. The study researchers suggest that this may be due to a lessening of emotional factors.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Emperor Charlemagne once said: “To have another language is to possess a second soul” and Nelson Mandela suggested that: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” Whether considering a course of study in another language for yourself, or your children, one thing we have found over the years is this. The ability to speak fluently in another tongue certainly expands the career opportunities open to such individuals.

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