In an increasingly globalised world being bilingual is one of the strongest traits an employee can have, alongside the obvious perks it may have on travelling. Businesses are increasingly expanding overseas with UK exports currently valued at around £25 billion. Between two candidates with the same skill set and experience, recruiters are likely to value the candidate who speaks another language more highly.
Having a second language is not only beneficial to your company but there are plenty of incentives in it for you too. Knowing a second language can lead to salary increases of up to an extra 3.8% per year and also opens up international travel and networking opportunities.
Learning a language does not happen overnight so you should be prepared to dedicate some time to it. Translation companies such as London Translations can assist you with the accuracy of your business interpreting while you learn. Here are some of the best ways you can go about learning a new language:
Use interactive language software
Translation services such as Rosetta Stone and Babbel are popular cloud-based programs that allow users to access resources online. They are both known to be effective fast-tracks as users can integrate it into everyday life by learning on-the-go via tablet or smartphone. Babbel is arguably more suited to a personal assistant’s needs as it first focuses on building basic conversational skills before setting off on immersive grammatical lessons.
Free language apps, such as DuoLingo have started to appear to compete with online language aids. A user sets up a profile, chooses a target language and sets weekly goals. Since its launch in 2012 the Duolingo app has gained 50 million users and has become one of the names synonymous with the tech revolution in language learning. What perhaps sets DuoLingo apart is its crowdsourcing approach to learning. It gives users the opportunity to learn a language in exchange for translating copy and helping to translate the web. This way businesses get cheaper web page translations.
Invite a foreign language into your daily life
The more you incorporate a foreign language into your daily routine, the more your brain will consider it something worth caring about. One of the best ways to do this is to label objects in your house in the language you are learning. To expand the learning experience include the activities associated with each item you have labelled. For instance, “I open the door, I close the door” is more useful than simply writing “door”.
Aim to memorise around 30 words and phrases each day. This means that within 90 days you will have memorised about 80% of the language.
Listen to the language
Passive learning is one of the best ways to grasp a new language. Many polyglots consider shadowing a language to be a useful way of picking up and remembering new vocabulary. If you can’t take time out to visit a country of your chosen language then make the most of your morning commute by listening to language lessons on audiobooks or podcasts.
Other fun ways to shadow a language is to listen to music in the language you’re learning or to use subtitles when watching films. You can either watch a film in your native language and enable subtitles in the foreign language or vice versa. This is a great way of discovering some of the century’s most iconic foreign language films such as Metropolis, Amélie and Pan’s Labyrinth.
Learn a language while you sleep
Subliminal learning has been a disputed topic for years but research conducted by a team of Swiss psychologists may have permanently put the debate to bed. The study found that listening to newly-learned foreign vocabulary while sleeping can help solidify the memory of the words. According to the study, if you learn new vocabulary just before you go to bed and then listen to a recording of the same words while you sleep you will have better word retention.
Which language should you learn?
When learning a language for business purposes the language you should learn depends entirely on which countries the company you work for deals with. For instance, learning Italian would not be of much value to a business who primarily targets Far Eastern markets. Nevertheless, any additional languages adds value to a CV and will be looked on favourably by employers.
If you work for a business that trades within the EU, learning the languages of Europe’s largest economies such as German and French would be hugely beneficial. For businesses that have moved further overseas it is wise to target the languages of the fastest growing economies. China has enjoyed an economic boom so Mandarin has become a popular choice of language. However many of today’s fastest growing economies are actually Hispanic countries so Spanish could prove to be the most valuable second language in the future.