Competition among and between businesses is fierce in the face of globalization. They want to hire the brightest and the best. In the process, employees must step up their game to reap the business benefits. One opportunity to boost your career prospects and increase the salary you command is learning a second language. This post looks at two big advantages and what the research has to say.

A second language helps with relationships

A 2009 study by Ellen Bialystok into bilingual and monolingual children found that those who know another language other than their native tongue scored higher on tests. They had

greater attention focus, distraction resistance, decision-making, judgement and responsive(ness) to feedback.

Cathy Price is a neuroimaging research analyst from the University College London. She says the brain is rewired when a person learns a second language. It makes the grey matter bigger by working out how to accommodate new vocabulary, grammar, and nuances of the foreign language. A bigger grey matter in the brain means that the brain processes faster.

Having a different language to see the world enables you to be more empathic to potential clients. You communicate, analyse, and solve problems better. You recognize patterns quickly, enabling you to fully understand a new client situation. It improves memory and strengthens your mental ‘muscle’.

A second language helps with multi-tasking

Another advantage of learning a foreign language is that people can mitigate the challenges of multi-tasking better. The ability of the brain to switch from one language system (grammar, mechanics, vocabulary) to another is akin to juggling from one workplace task to another. Corporate work also includes having multiple projects at the same time. Both require a high degree of focus and attention. Being able to stay on track in the face of change is a much-valued skill in the fast-paced corporate world of metrics and KPIs.

We are in an era of significant change in trading relationships between countries across the world. Reach out to other cultures and understand how different nationalities do their business. Businesses adhere to set rules and regulations, but people make the difference through relationships and meeting the needs of clients. One such need is to understand their cultural context. Speaking your client’s language will help you to seal the deal and be a star in your field.

Thanks for this post to our friend Lucia Leite from Lingholic, a community hub providing information, experiences, and opinions on language learning.