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January 26, 2021

How Learning a Second Language Can Boost Your Business Acumen

In a world of more than 6,000 spoken languages, wouldn’t it be a waste to stick just to one? And yet, while in many areas of the globe being multilingual is often a norm, in the US, just 20% of students learn a foreign language.


Knowing a second language has many advantages. If you find yourself in a foreign country or want to attend a multinational conference, you can easily and confidently communicate with others. But interestingly, there are also benefits beyond just knowing the language itself.


How exactly can mastering another language make you a more agile and empathic person, while setting you on the path toward greater career success?


Enhancing your all-around cognitive ability


In most cases, foreign languages have a completely different system of structures and rules, and mastering them takes a sharp mind. Throughout that process, your brain has to cope with new mental incentives and absorb novel patterns. This results in the improvement of your cognitive capacities and overall problem-solving skills. Added to that, being able to speak more than one language makes you more resistant to mental noise and therefore better at multitasking.


There’s no better brain gym than learning a second language, especially when it comes to keeping your memory in shape. Indirectly, it allows you to become better at remembering different facts, from names to directions. This has positive long-term effects as well: Some studies have identified a link between being multilingual and avoiding the onset of dementia.


Cultivating soft skills


By learning a second language, you are bound to become a more effective negotiator, develop new people skills, and form stronger relationships. This is because you can better understand the subtle cues of human communication—not just verbal expressions themselves, but body language too.


According to research, those speaking multiple languages have a greater capacity to understand people from a wider variety of backgrounds, and also have a better understanding of themselves. Ultimately, being bilingual teaches our brains to appreciate differences rather than seeing them as a threat, helping us reduce decision bias as a result. Language learners are said to develop positive attitudes toward both the language and the culture that comes with it, making them more empathetic and open-minded.

New perspectives and possibilities


There’s a Chinese proverb that says: “To learn a language is to have one more window from which to look at the world.” But apart from the way you perceive the world around you, it also changes the way you interact with it. Learning a second language breaks communication barriers between people and allows you to connect with others more easily – bringing benefits to both your personal and professional lives.


In fact, language skills can facilitate your access to more job opportunities and make you inherently better qualified for more positions across industries. As a result of the pandemic, serving a global market becomes no exception, and being able to understand and identify with different cultures and languages is a huge plus. Apart from increased employability, a second language will likely reflect on your salary as well: Bilinguals typically earn 5-20% more than their monolingual peers.


On the way toward becoming a professional with a stronger profile, learning a second language seems like the obvious thing to do. However, throughout that process, you’re actually likely to pick up much more than just new vocabulary and grammar rules.


To explore more related content, check out our blog.

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