The world has changed so much in the last couple of decades. Technology has shifted the way we work in fundamental ways. As a result, skills that used to be highly valued in a professional context have become less important, and other skills and talents are coming into sharper focus. Professionals need to bring something to the table that can’t be achieved by a machine. Traits like creative talent, an ability to multitask, and excellent interpersonal skills are becoming increasingly important. Learning a new language might give you that extra edge you’ve been searching for.
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“Whether your goal is to remain relevant in your current position, switch jobs or launch an encore career, acquiring a second language could set you apart from the sea of qualified (and younger) job applicants,” writes Clair Jones at Forbes.
Even if you’re the young job applicant, picking up another language — particularly a high-demand one, like Mandarin or Spanish — can give your resume a boost. Here’s why.
1. It’s all about communication.
This is true both literally and on a larger scale. Learning a new language gives you the ability to communicate with different people on richer levels. It also hones your communication skills generally, giving you new perspective and skills that help you express yourself better and understand others more completely. Learning a new language makes you think differently about your own, and emphasizing clarity, complexity, and deep understanding of others will help you professionally whether your new languages skills impact your career directly or not.
John Tarnoff of The Huffington Post recently explored this idea in an article about the career path of Jean Roth, who now owns her own graphics studio, Rotem Studio. The long and winding road to her current position was paved by skills and experience, and Roth is a proponent of thinking outside of the box when it comes to making career decisions, and taking risks. Learning a new language improves your communication skills across the board, and this facilitates growth and progress no matter how they’re implemented.
2. Your business is becoming more international.
As technology shifts industry, businesses are becoming broader. It is easier to interact with groups from around the world, and brick-and-mortar offices are looking for new ways to branch out and take advantage of all the opportunities available to them now. This desire to grow internationally will only increase as time marches on. Learning a new language could open up possibilities for you professionally that you aren’t even aware of at this point.
3. Learning a new language helps you think differently.
Think of learning a new language as a workout for your brain. Just as it’s beneficial to vary your routine when you exercise your body, the same is true for your mind. In fact, bilingualism can boost brain development. You experience the benefits of acquiring a second language no matter when you learn the language. Four major regions of the brain are impacted by language comprehension and production. As your brain works to process a new language, memory, reasoning, and analytical thinking are heightened. That will surely influence your ability to do your job in new, exciting ways.
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