Five Myths about Language Learning: Myth 5

A foreign language won't get me into a job

Yes, we've arrived at the final myth about language learning. With all the talk of A-Levels and employability after college and university at the moment, it's more than time we dispersed with this one as well. I can see how, with English being considered the worldwide lingua franca of business, it would seem far from necessary to learn any foreign language in order to get a job. And I think that's not wrong, it's just missing the point. The mastery of a language alone is never enough for an employer who wants a creative, open-minded, dedicated candidate in front of them.

 These guys use languages in their career.

These guys use languages in their career.

In job applications, you do well to mention your intercultural awareness, advanced communication skills and analytical mind as key characteristics. If someone asked me to evidence those, the first thing I'd say would be that I speak three languages fluently and I've picked up the basics of at least five others in under 2 hours. It almost goes without saying that you're likely to excel in teamwork too if you've spent a lot of time practising how to express yourself and listen to others.

The UK economy is full of businesses that want to take advantage of international markets, and all you need to do is launch yourself into it. One of the consequences of globalisation is that more and more jobs will involve you dealing with people in other countries, bidding for projects somewhere abroad and  having to travel. Employers will want to know that you are adaptable to different people and environments, and what better evidence than time spent abroad, or hosting an exchange student from a different country?

Finally, what interviewer won't love a candidate who can illustrate his or her dedication through pointing out how they've studied their other language for 7 years now?

The secret is this: Think about what language learning teaches you beyond just a language, then think about your passion and whether your dream employer works internationally. No matter if you are into fashion or fishing, you're likely to think of a use for your multilingual mastery straight away.