Multilingualism as an Asset

Bilinguals today make up approximately half of the world’s population. I, myself, grew up in a bilingual household and learned a third language when I began going to school. It is not surprising that in our highly globalized world, being fluent in more than one language is extremely beneficial. Asides from supposedly being better for your neurological health and making communication much easier, being proficient in several languages will often be a serious asset as you progress through your education and enter the workforce.

One major advantage of being bilingual is that it makes you a competitive applicant, regardless if this is for a program in higher education, a research position, or a first-time job. This is especially true if you’re interested in working internationally or going on business trips, as you would more likely be chosen for positions abroad if you had the local language(s) mastered. In addition to this, knowing more languages also exposes you to new cultures and perspectives, providing you with new experiences from which you can learn and grow as a person, which is beneficial in all aspects of life. Even if a particular job offer is not asking for proficiency in, say, three languages, being able to comfortably communicate in three will give you that extra edge compared to others.

In addition to this, though, it really does provide you with extra opportunities. Not only in terms of international opportunities, but also simply in terms of the number of jobs open to you on the market here and now as a multilingual. An increasing number of positions require you to be fluent in more than one language. Of course in Canada, this mostly means speaking and writing in English and French, but as the world continues to globalize and as employers come and go, additional languages, such as Spanish and Mandarin Chinese, may often be demanded. The nature of some careers also make it essential to be competent in several languages. These include those in the tourism and hospitality industry, multinational corporations, diplomacy, global affairs and international relations, and more evidently, translation and interpretation.

Learning new languages is easy and fast when you’re still a child and soak up everything like a sponge. As you get older, the same cannot be said. In the past, I’ve told myself that I would learn a fourth language, but never got around to it, because it really does necessitate a lot more effort as an adult. If becoming fluent in more than your mother tongue is something you want to do though, don’t be discouraged! Many places offer you the chance to acquire new language skills, and there are different approaches to language-learning that can make the process slightly less daunting.

Multilingualism is not vital, but always a nice touch to add onto a CV. While being capable of speaking and writing several languages is not the be-all-end-all of career opportunities, it is definitely something to consider in our increasingly internationalized world.

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