Unpredictable is the frightening new norm. The economic crunch that half the world experienced a few years ago, the annexation of Crimea by Russia, the civil war in Syria–all prove this point, not to mention our daily lives being affected by acts of terrorism. We can live our lives trapped in fear, afraid to stray beyond our own safe boundaries, or we can embrace the world with confidence and excitement. If you don’t know any language other than your own, you are indeed a prisoner in your own place, a genie trapped inside a bottle. Sooner or later you may start feeling stifled and restricted.
The World Is Shrinking
Compare the world to when you were growing up.
These days, computers and phones are extensions of our bodies. Apart from a plethora of information which they offer, social media have become tools to share opinions across the room and around the world about world and personal events. They also close gaps between persons, building relationships and connecting with our loved ones.
Sometimes you close gaps even on a global scale by talking to someone from another country, another culture or language. Suppose you befriend someone from Costa Rica and plan to spend your next vacations there. Overall, your trip to Costa Rica is a rewarding experience, but you regret the language barrier you had. When you met people who spoke very little English, you felt left out and frustrated. You couldn’t understand them and they didn’t understand you.
Then, there was that time when your friend had to go to work and you were left alone for a few hours. You had difficulty communicating with the local shopkeepers and getting a drink at the nearest pub. At times like these you really regret not taking Spanish in high school.
How Does a Smaller World Affect You?
With each passing day, as our world is getting smaller, much business is being conducted worldwide via the Internet. When deals are under discussion and being made, someone must travel to represent the company to its potential new business associate abroad. But not just anyone! It must be the right person.
Certainly the top salesman in the company is the natural choice, but he is monolingual and therefore cannot be considered for this job. You, on the other hand, even though you are fairly new in the industry, stand a chance because you speak the right language. What happens next is entirely up to you and your skills. But knowing a foreign language may prove to be the right foot in the door.
In a Different Scenario
Let’s look at a job from a different perspective. You have graduated college and are now in the job market, looking for a company that will appreciate an astute young mind like yours. You drift from one temporary or dead-end job to another, all the while hoping to hear from one of the many companies that you have given your resume to. But so far you have had no luck. If you are bilingual, chances are you will find a job where you can use your professional translation skills and that matches your professional caliber. If not, as a bilingual you have more opportunities, compared to a monolingual.
A Myriad of Opportunities
Many companies and agencies need interpreters and translators, the U.N for one. If you already know a language, you can obtain translation certification in that language . With certification you can start working as a translator and enjoy other options. You may be precisely what an interpretation or translation company needs. Countries all over the world are looking for English teachers. Most don’t require teaching degrees as such, just a knowledge of their language and, of course, your own.
So when considering what direction to go in college, you may be wise to consider learning at least one foreign language. If for no other reason, multiple languages make you more marketable and more flexible in the job world.