Today’s post about the benefits of being bilingual in your professional life was written for us by a fellow linguist and blogger Micha from Mindpeeler.com (you can find more info about Micha and his work below). In his article Micha shows us that bilingual career options are more numerous and diversified than you can think of. It is an important topic, especially in the times of the economic crisis, so I hope it can inspire you to make the best of your resources and turn your job to a successful career!
Unique professional advantages of multilingualism
It’s pretty obvious that knowing more languages might be an advantage when you’re looking for work, and that more fluent you are the better your chances are, but beyond that, what does bi- and multilingualism have to offer that can further or kick start your career? The answer, of course, is a lot, or I wouldn’t be writing this.
Larger working memory – bilinguals can be more efficient at work
A surprising development for bilinguals is a larger working memory than in monolinguals, even in children. This means that speaking more languages makes you smarter (sort of). You don’t actually get smarter, but your brain functions more efficiently allowing you to perform better in complex tasks. However, people with a high working memory are also more susceptible to stress than people with a lower working memory, so if there is a connection there, we bilinguals might be wiser to pursue work where we have some control over our environment.
More study and bilingual career options
Bilingual career options are more numerous that those open to monolinguals, and I’m not talking about being a teacher. A bilingual person doesn’t need to have any interest at all in language teaching or translation, or any bilingually oriented job in order to take advantage of their skills. Of course that doesn’t mean that those jobs aren’t worth pursuing, they are, but if you don’t like that idea you can also be a more successful physicist because of your language skills.
When you’re looking for a college education you’re not limited to the country that you grew up in. If you’re from Tirol in northern Italy and grew up speaking Italian and German, you’re not constrained to apply for university in Italy, where nepotism and the difficult state of the economy make it increasingly hard to attend a quality institution. If you can wade through the bureaucracy you can go to university in Austria, Germany, or Switzerland, and in doing so circumvent roadblocks that leave perfectly talented monolinguals back home stranded.
Once you’re done with school you’ll find that the job market for you is considerably larger as well. If one of your languages is a lingua franca like English or Spanish entire continents will open up for your exploration. If there is no work to be found in the place where you grew up there is another country (or countries) full of people who will be happy to accept your resume.
Greater professional mobility and versatility
As the economy becomes increasingly globalized it’s getting more and more important for people to be mobile, especially as they rise through the ranks of a corporate system. That means visiting other countries and interacting with other international businesses. Being able to speak another language doubles your chances of being the one person at work who can communicate efficiently with your counterpart company. If you manage to show your skills to the right people, it can make the difference between being a background corporate grunt or a front and center representative of your company abroad.
Who is the author?
Micha is a linguist and blogger at his linguistics blog mindpeeler.com. He introduces his readers to the basics of linguistics in a passionate and often funny way. His posts are informative and at the same time full of personal comments that will have you nod your head in agreement or even laugh. I especially like his articles from the Language and the World section, they feel like having a private chat with the author, who is not afraid to touch upon some controversial topics regarding politics, education an cultural issues.