Knowing a second language can help you in lots of ways. To start with,
you can make more money, which is always nice! Salary.com found that positions
that require bilingual employees pay between five and 20 percent more than
similar positions that only require one language.
Speaking another language also looks great on your resume.
"The more you bring to the table, the more 'marketable' you are as an employee,"
says Steve Schneider. Schneider is a school counselor in Wisconsin. He is
also a vice president at the American School Counselor Association. "Being
bilingual or trilingual sets you apart from others. It's a specialized skill
that employers are willing to pay more money for."
Schneider adds that there's another reason that it pays to learn a second
language. No one really talks about this reason, but it's a good one. And
a simple one.
"You'll have more friends," he says.
By knowing a second language, you can network and communicate with people
from different cultures. This helps you grow as a person.
"Learning a second language can help you get in touch with your roots,"
says Vanessa Gomez-Lee. "So many cultures lose their language; it is never
too late to learn another language."
Gomez-Lee is a school counselor in California. She is also the past president
of the California Association of School Counselors. She adds that knowing
a second language gives you an advantage at a time when finding a job can
be tough. She has noticed this in her own profession.
"As a school counselor in California, many school districts want people
who speak both English and Spanish, due to the fact that we have so many Spanish
speakers," she says.
Brent Van Arsdell is the California-based president of a website that offers
language-learning packages. He says that if you learn a second language the
right way, it's worth the work. And for him, the right way is a three-step
"The first thing you should learn is greetings," says Van Arsdell. "The
second thing you should learn is being disarming. So if you're going to learn
French, you're going to learn several nice things to say about France in French,
right away. Then when you meet a person who is French, you say, 'I love the
Alps,' or you love some French movie, and you say that in French, and then
you're off and running."
The third and final step to successfully learn a second language, according
to Van Arsdell, is learning how to "speak French in French." What he means
by that is learning a few key phrases that indicate you're learning the language.
"Learn to say, 'How do I say?' in French, then point to something," he
says. "You turn the average French person, who may not be a very good teacher,
into your teacher. You turn people you hang out with into teachers and everyone
has a good time. You learn to say, 'Did I say that right?' in French to get
Gomez-Lee says that learning a second language is a step towards learning
another culture. And that's something that can enrich your life in many ways
beyond just employability.
"Learning a second language also helps you to understand another culture,
which is a life experience that is so valuable," she says. "You can learn
about poetry, films, literature and music that you wouldn't have had the opportunity
to without knowing the second language."
Nicolas Lejeune is the director of a language school. He says that, among
other things, learning a second language helps your credibility, changes your
thinking process and adds to your life philosophy.
"You're going to learn different aspects of life that are not so emphasized
in one language, but are going to be emphasized in another language," he says.
Lejeune says there are many positive outcomes of learning a second language
that may not seem obvious at first. For example, it will help you have a better
grasp on English.
"If you learn another language, it will help you in English, because the
only thing you can compare it to, if you're an English speaker, is English,"
he says. "So you're going to have to start thinking about your own language
and the way you use it."
Lejeune says that, believe it or not, learning a second language can be
fun. He says he's learning Mandarin right now, and is having a fun time doing
it. And he says that even if you're not having a good time now learning a
second language, you just might later on.
"I know it's difficult for students in a class to understand that, especially
if they have the wrong teacher or are bored... it's maybe something you can
appreciate when you're a bit more mature. But if they don't appreciate it
now, they for sure will appreciate it later. They have to be patient."
For Van Arsdell, it all comes down to enjoying it. Learning a second language
can be fun. And, really, it should be fun. If it's not fun, maybe you just
need to approach it in a different way... or, like Lejeune says, just remember
to be patient.
"You don't have to wait a long time to have fun with it," says Van Arsdell.
"If you're not having fun with this inside of a week, you're doing something