It is the 21st century, and commerce, trade, diplomacy, and entertainment are largely conducted in English, the present lingua franca. Unfortunately, many native English speakers believe themselves exempt from learning a foreign language, which they justify on the grounds that they don’t need to. What most native English speakers simply don’t know is the benefits of speaking multiple languages afford a person. It is not a necessity, but it an upper hand in a professional market that is saturated with bachelor and master degree holders. How will you stand out from the myriad applicants for a job?
Businesses and firms understand the indispensible benefits they collect from multi-lingual employees, which is why they take such interest in bilingual and polyglot applicants. In an international negotiation or transaction, the simple knowledge of the language that the foreign party speaks could mean the difference between success and collapse because it means more than the simple exchange of information among companies. It is a unique compliment because the undertaking of a foreign language indicates an understanding of the culture and people from which the language comes. In this sense, the native and the foreign language learner find common ground on which they can identify with each other. This creates a comfortable atmosphere that makes the foreign party much more amenable to compromise and mutual agreement. As English speakers, we often expect non-native English speakers to interact with us in our language, and so we usually don’t understand this compliment. Just because we don’t understand it, does not mean that it cannot help you or your student in their careers.
There are personal benefits to learning another language as well, and these are perhaps more obvious than the business ones. To start, undertaking a foreign language and achieving a versatile degree of fluency usually requires time abroad in the respective language’s country. This is a priceless opportunity that many people will not get to experience, especially an extended stay, whose purpose is expressly to engage and interact with the culture and its people through their language. Many people travel for vacations, but most do not intentionally adopt another worldview while they vacation.
Through fluency in a foreign language, you are instantly connected to an entire other population of people, the way they think, and the way they view the world, and to possess multiple worldviews is to possess a diversified critical thinking skill set that gives one an edge in life and in ones career.