The 21st century is defined by being a globalised economy. As a result the ability to speak a second language, or even a third or fourth, is a major business asset. The ability to communicate with other employees or companies based in another country makes you a valuable candidate to any potential employer.
Even if you don’t communicate directly with another country or go abroad on assignment, that second language can be of as much at home. Due to the nature of the world we live in, many countries have high immigration levels, particularly in metropolitan cities. To communicate with employees or colleagues in multiple languages can help both interpersonal relationships and training. Another language also makes you a valuable candidate for entertaining foreign clients.
Having a second language in the workplace isn’t just about the language itself. Another language enables understanding of a different culture. Even if there aren’t lingual barriers between colleagues, employees or coworkers, cultural barriers can be much harder to breach. An awareness and understanding of these cultural differences can be extremely helpful. Through language you come to learn that what may in English be a completely acceptable phrase, is insulting in another culture.
The ability to speak a second language speaks more about a candidate than just bilingualism and increased opportunities. The ability to learn a new language requires a high level of thought; creativity is required to create coherent sentences from unfamiliar vocabulary, whilst memory and obviously communication skills are essential to put the new language into practice. Typically the confidence and accomplishment of learning a second language drives the desire to learn more, and can often make learning another language even easier.
Employees who speak a second language in the workplace allow businesses to be competitive in a global market. The employment or conduction of business with other cultures allows for business growth as well as a satisfied and consistent workforce. Even if your company is not international, in the 21st century a second language can be as much use right on your doorstep as half way around the world.