Have you ever heard children chattering away in a second language and felt, well, a little envious? We’ve got good news! It’s absolutely possible to pick up a second (or third, or fourth) language as an adult. Speaking a second language can enhance your career opportunities. Plus, choosing to study a language has some surprising benefits for your brain.
If you’re looking to work overseas, or for a multinational within Australia, a second language can really give your CV a boost. It’s a great way to gain a competitive edge. Don’t worry if you’re not word perfect when you graduate—employers are looking for conversational ability too.
In today’s world, your contemporaries, colleagues or clients may well be spread all over the world. Being able to chat together easily isn’t just good for building strong working relationships. Good communication also means a better standard of work, plus you’ll probably have a better time doing it.
You might be surprised by some of the industries that prize bilingual skills. In 2017, News Corp reported that industries including real estate, hotel services, IT, and nursing all valued employees with a second language.
Learning a new language doesn’t just benefit your career, it’s also a boon for your brain. When you speak a new language, you challenge your brain to negotiate a new system. It’s great for problem solving, and it builds your communication skills.
Multi-tasking is another essential area exercised when you speak more than one language. A 2011 study from Penn State found that bilingual people had ‘mental juggling’ skills, which helped them prioritise information and work across multiple projects—something that we know is essential to success at university. Their overall conclusion after the study? ‘The bottom line is that bilingualism is good for you.’
Whether you’re looking to add a language minor to your degree, or thinking about picking up a language as a single subject, it’s easy to get started. When you’re considering which language to study, think about where you’d like your career to take you. If there’s a particular country or region you’d love to work in, picking up one of the local languages is a no-brainer. Likewise, if there’s somewhere you’re planning to travel, you’ll have a richer experience if you know the lingo. Or, if you’re pursuing language as a passion, remember that you’re more likely to stay motivated if you get immersed in the culture of a country that you feel drawn to.