Benefits of mastering a foreign languageChen Wan Lim
Many scientific studies have shown that multilingual people have brains which are quicker, more versatile and better able to deal with ambiguities, resolve conflicts and even resist Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia longer. In the working world, the ability to speak more than one language is a distinct advantage as it opens up more possibilities and presents better opportunities compared with monolingual people. In Malaysia, most people can speak at least two or three different languages – the first being the national language, second being English and the third being the individual’s mother tongue. Apart from that, what are the benefits of mastering another foreign language?
Opens up new career market
Mastering Japanese, Korean, French, German etc enables one to seek employment in those countries. Sure, English is still the lingua franca in the business world but the ability to speak a local language will give you an additional advantage over other candidates.
Meeting new people
The more foreign languages you know, the more people you are able to connect with. Meeting new people is all about networking. Networking is one of the key success factors of the business world. Even if you are travelling on holiday, speaking the local native language will allow you to know things probably only the locals would know about.
More income potential
Mastering foreign languages makes your resume look better. This in turn increases your value to an organisation. Your ability to communicate in another foreign language allows you to be transferred, seconded or posted to another foreign office where you will earn more from allowances and other non-monetary benefits. In addition, your chances of being promoted to a regional or global role are also increased if you have command of one or more international languages.
Understanding another culture better
Mastering a language often also means immersing oneself in the culture. For example, learning Japanese in incomplete without visiting Japan once and watching Japanese animations. Likewise, learning Korean is often accompanied by listening to Korean pop songs. Understand culture is very important in the business world as different cultures have different ways of conducting business and interacting on a business setting. This will save you the trouble and embarrassment of accidentally insulting potential business clients.
More options for graduate schools
Mastering foreign languages also allows you to have more graduate school options globally. For example, some postgraduate schools in Germany conduct its classes in German and most Russian universities still conduct their classes in Russian. Mastering foreign languages will make you a citizen of the world.