Our ability to communicate well directly impacts our marketability, which is why honing language skills is so important for working professionals. No matter what industry you are in, being able to speak and write well in at least one language is a requirement for many jobs, from public relations and sales to engineering and marketing.
As the number of bachelor degree holders increase and the number of high-skilled job openings decreases, there is a growing need for applicants to acquire additional abilities that will differentiate them from the crowd. Mastering a second language might just be the thing that gets you an interview, but the benefits can go beyond looking good on paper. Here are five ways improving language skills can help professionals get ahead of the competition.
Increasingly, being bilingual or multilingual is not just preferred, but a prerequisite for many jobs. Especially in a place like Hong Kong, where English and Chinese are official languages, being able to speak and write well in English and Chinese makes you a valuable asset to companies that have both English-speaking and Chinese-speaking clients. Mandarin has also taken a more important role in the workplace, as many companies now have dealings in mainland China and require workers who are able to communicate in the national language to facilitate business dealings. Being multilingual also opens up more employment opportunities with international companies, which might be looking for people able to act as an interpreter or translator.
Being able to communicate with someone in their native language fosters intimacy, breaks down barriers, and helps with building meaningful relationships with potential clients. When you are interacting with clients or colleagues, knowing their native language—even if they can speak a common language such as English—can elevate the professional relationship. Having that sense of kinship can lead to more sales, better quality service, and a more comfortable working environment. Unofficial networking functions can also require socialising in different languages, which might, in turn, lead to your next opportunity.
Being bilingual is a useful skill that can translate to increased revenue for your business, and studies have shown that employees that have a good command over multiple languages can earn between five to 20 percent more than their monolingual peers. If you are the only person that can speak Mandarin well, and there’s a big conference in Shanghai coming up, chances are that you are going to represent your company at the event. It also increases your chances of being promoted and having higher compensation as a result.
MBA degrees in Asia require applicants to be fluent in written and spoken English—you will have to submit standardised test scores to satisfy English language requirements in places such as China and Japan. According to QS Quacquarelli Symonds, a company that provides insight to and analysis of higher education institutions around the world, top business schools in China incorporate mandatory Chinese language training as part of the programme, to achieve basic competency in Mandarin.
Basic proficiency in Korean is required for those thinking of pursuing graduate study in South Korean institutions. Furthermore, learning the local language, such as Cantonese in Hong Kong, is essential for those who wish to pursue a career at the destination of study after graduation.
Apart from gaining marketable skills, learning a foreign language can actually train your brain to become more flexible. If you’re multilingual, your brain switches between the languages when you’re thinking, adapting your cognitive abilities to the situation. It can improve your ability to multitask, think on your feet, and problem-solve. People with command over more than one language can also be better at reading situations and communicating with others. According to the New York Times, being bilingual can “have a profound effect on your brain, improving cognitive skills not related to language and even shielding against dementia in old age.”
At Q Language, you’d find exactly that sort of supportive environment to help you with learning languages such as English, Mandarin, Cantonese, or Korean. Whether you have just decided to start, or are already well on your way to speaking it fluently, Q Language offers tailored classes to suit each person’s personal goals.
Courses include intensive boot camps, business and corporate speak-focused classes, small group classes, and one-on-one tutoring in a relaxed learning environment. For working professionals looking for some extra help, they also provide corporate training that can identify and design language courses to suit the needs of all corporations. With experienced trainers from academic and business backgrounds, Q Language will train your staff in a range of language functions necessary for a successful business.
Study alongside peers from multinational backgrounds, taught by native-speaking professionals with internationally recognised academic training qualifications and worldwide working experience, and see yourself well on your way to fluency in your chosen language. Enrol yourself in a class at Q Language now!