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From Hello to Hola: 7 Reasons to Study a Foreign Language in College

Career Advice

Posted by Greg Lindberg on Sep 21, 2017 8:00:00 AM

Hello in different languages.jpgHola. Bonjour. Hallo. Ola.

Did you know that all of the above words are simply “Hello” in a variety of foreign languages?

There are lots of perks to learning and mastering a new language in college. Let’s explore them.

1. Ability to use the language through study abroad trips

If you’re lucky enough, you may get the chance to study abroad while in college by spending several weeks or months in a foreign nation.

Not only can study abroad opportunities offer plenty of unique learning and cultural experiences, but you can also take a language you’ved studied in college and actually apply it to real-world situations. These may include:

  • Reading a menu at a restaurant
  • Reading a map
  • Conversing with native speakers in various places throughout your stay
  • Successfully navigating by bus, train, Uber, or other forms of transportation
  • Dealing with foreign currency properly

2. Increased chances of landing a job

When looking at candidates during the search and hiring process, employers seek characteristics that make job applicants unique. If a prospective individual is bilingual or multilingual, this person will often immediately have a leg up on the rest of the pack.

In fact, bilingualism was recently named the hottest skill for candidates on the job market to have by CNN Money. So, if you can list a foreign language on your resume, you immediately put yourself in a better position.

In addition, remember that taking the time to learn a language shows an above-average work ethic – and a desire to step outside the box.

If you are bilingual, you may have a better chance of landing and succeeding in these types of positions:

  • Interpreter/translator
  • Customer service representative
  • Police officer
  • Bank teller
  • Marketing manager
  • Hospitality professional
  • Healthcare professional

3. Increase your salary potential

Your bank account will love you if you’re an advanced linguistic learner.

According to some research studies, bilingual employees have been shown to earn more than their monolingual counterparts. For instance, in 2012, the Center for Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies discovered that bilingual Latinos working in New York earned $15,000 more annually compared to Latinos who only spoke English.


A primary reason for this is that by having a bilingual individual on staff, a company can increase its profitability by having someone on board who can effectively communicate with a certain population that they otherwise would have difficulty reaching.

To take it a step further, a multilingual employee can likely earn even more in certain industries.

4. More opportunities for career advancement

Let’s say you currently have a full-time job in IT and are working toward a master’s degree to advance your career and move up the ladder. If you add a foreign language to your coursework, you can increase your chances even more of that much-desired promotion or dream job you’ve been seeking for years.

Employees who demonstrate a desire to add skills to their knowledge toolboxes can move up within their organizations more quickly. So, when the time comes for your annual review, when you ask for a raise, or when decisions are made for promoting employees, you’ll find yourself in the catbird seat.

5. An improved ability to learn new things

If you’re able to learn and master a new language, you can prove to yourself that you have the ability to learn new things in general.

This means you may find some of your future college classes a little less daunting. You could feel more confident in job interviews, learning an instrument, conversing with strangers, or anything else that requires preparation, determination, and patience.

6. Better candidate for positions within the increasingly global economy

Technology has powered an increasingly global economy over the past few decades. This has put professionals in all fields in contact with those in other countries, presenting a potential language barrier.

Knowing how to converse with others – even if it’s only to have a simple conversation – gives you a huge advantage. It also puts those with whom you’re communicating more at ease.

7. Better connection to other people and cultures

You can learn so much about other individuals and cultures by mastering a foreign language. Words, phrases, and bigger ideas within a particular language give readers and speakers a better understanding of where such a language is actually spoken.

Let’s say you learn Japanese and then take a week out of your Asian vacation to visit Tokyo. You can truly appreciate the culture of the city far more by knowing what is being communicated around you.

How Has a Foreign Language Benefited You?

Share your story in a comment on how learning a second language has benefited you in your life.

Topics: Foreign languages, Spanish, French, German, Japanese, Chinese

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