It’s no secret that the world is shrinking. No, we’re not talking about global warming and sea levels encroaching on shorelines. The world is much smaller because technology is allowing us to interact with people from all around the world. Look around you and you’ll see numerous nations represented in our communities, businesses, and churches. Below are just a small handful of the benefits to learning a foreign language.
1. Better overall communication skills – Language isn’t about learning new words, sentence structures, and local slang. Language is about communicating. People that learn new languages also learn effective communication. They learn to perceive when they are being understood, and how to adapt their message if it isn’t being received. This is a valuable skill among managers with teams to motivate.
2. Better chances of employment – As noted above, the nations are coming to us. Our cities are flooded with immigrants contributing to our society and economy. The ability to communicate with a growing workforce and consumer population that doesn’t speak your native language greatly increases the chances that an employer will want to hire you. Take for example the medical field. Medical Spanish is an ever-increasing skill that is highly desirable among job candidates.
3. Travel – According to St. Augustine, “the world is a book, and those who do not travel only read one page.” Learning a foreign language opens many doors. The opportunity to travel and understand your surroundings is one of them. Travel is an education in itself, and learning the local language is a tool to a better understanding of the world around us.
4. Respect – It’s a sad fact, but many who have the opportunity to travel and see the world are western people who expect English to be spoken at every turn. But the reality is that foreign countries are just that: foreign. Especially in the professional world, it is a sign of respect to at least be familiar with the language of those with whom you are doing business. This respect goes a long way in closing many deals and negotiations. In addition, relationships are formed that contribute to growth and profitability.
5. Business opportunities abroad – There’s a countless number of large international corporations searching for qualified job candidates who have the ability to move from country to country. Bosch is German, Michelin is French, and the suppliers to these companies are endless. These are just a small handful of the foreign companies who value multilingual employees. Companies such as these are foreign, and they operate all over the world, but they also have a huge presence in the US. South Carolina alone is home to thousands of opportunities for people with the ability to communicate in different languages.
6. Better overall development for our children – According to studies conducted by the Duke University Talent Identification Program, children who begin learning a foreign language in their early years generally outperform students who have not had such training. The benefits can be seen in standardized testing, creative and problem solving skills, and overall cognitive development.