The Lifetime Value of Learning a New Language

benefits of learning a new language

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While some people take to language learning like a fish to water, other people struggle with even the most basic vocabulary. Learning a new language isn’t a simple journey.

But when you feel like giving up (or are mustering the resolve to get started), remember the myriad benefits that come with achieving bilingualism or even multilingualism. Knowing the lifetime value of learning a new language makes it easier to pony up the investment of time and brainpower.

Perhaps you’re a monolingual living in an English-speaking country like the United Kingdom. You might think there’s no need for you to learn another language. After all, so much of the world speaks English these days.

While it’s certainly possible to get by just speaking English, you’re missing out on perks and opportunities that could enrich your life. From monetary value and demand in the workplace to utility with increasing globalization and making friends from around the world, knowing the lifetime value of learning a new language will make you eager to schedule an online lesson.

Monetary Value

All the time and effort you put into learning a new language could pay off … literally.

When it comes to the lifetime value of learning a new language, it’s difficult to specify the ROI of benefits like making new friends from around the world. However, Lifehacker contributor Melanie Pinola points to a study by The Economist which predicts that speaking additional languages could mean a bigger paycheck.

The study calculated a 2% language bonus over 40 years. If you start with a salary of $45,000 annually, the language bonus plus a 1% raise per year means that you’d end your career with an extra $67,000. Considering you can learn a language in as little as 15 minutes per day, that’s quite the ROI.

Are you seeing dollar signs? If you’re interested in learning a new language for earning potential, you should think about studying an in-demand language. The Economist study revealed that German and French are worth more than a commonly-taught language like Spanish.

The study estimated the monetary value of German at $128,000 and Spanish at $51,000.

Other useful languages to learn are Mandarin Chinese, Arabic, and Portuguese.

Demand in the Workplace

Increased earning potential isn’t the only career-related benefit of learning a new language. Bilingual and multilingual individuals are of great demand in the workplace.

People with proven proficiency in more than one language frequently stand out among job applicants. Some employers might even consider hiring a bilingual person as getting two workers for the price of one. For example, in the public relations field, culturally diverse communicators are in especially high demand.

Additionally, being bilingual or multilingual makes you a good fit for working abroad. Competition for these types of opportunities is steep, but knowing the language shows you’re a strong candidate since you’ll be better equipped to deal with common struggles of moving abroad like culture shock and homesickness.

Even if you’re just somewhat fluent when you move abroad, activities, like shopping in the market or joining a gym, will help you become fluent faster when living abroad.

Already employed? Learning a new language could lead to special recognition within your organization. If you’re vying for a promotion, it could give you the leg up you need to secure it.

Utility with Increasing Globalization

One of the reasons many employers are on the lookout for bilingual and multilingual employees is increasing globalization. Across industries, companies are conducting business on a global scale. Thanks to technology, the world is becoming increasingly interconnected.

Being able to communicate with clients, suppliers, partners and team members from around the world is only the start. While speaking someone’s native language is obviously useful for talking, such a skill has an even greater value in the global workplace.

It should come as no surprise that companies generally have a more difficult time succeeding in a foreign market than in their home countries. Businesses and investors know what a goldmine achieving global recognition is and are looking for whatever edge they can get. The leading brands of the world like Apple, Google, and Amazon are valued at hundreds of millions of dollars.

Even the top brands have room to improve though. According to Market Realist contributor Umar Khan, Apple is struggling to appeal to Indian customers. He predicts that Apple will need to rethink its product and pricing strategy if it wants to break into the budget-conscious Indian market which also happens to be the second-most populous country in the world.

This could be an opportunity for Hindi speakers. Fluency in a language can lend itself to understanding the psychology of people from other parts of the world. During market research, Hindi speakers could pick up on linguistic nuances that could provide insight and help Apple shift their brand strategy to better appeal to the Indian market.

Establishing Deeper Connections

For many language learners, career benefits are secondary. The true lifetime value of learning a new language is the opportunity to establish deeper connections especially when traveling.

There’s much to be said for speaking with locals in their native tongue. When you speak another language, you’re able to interact with people more freely and connect on a more authentic level. Knowing the language transforms you from “just another tourist” into a traveler who is able to get off the beaten path.

When you speak the language of the country you’re visiting, it’s easier to meet new people and make friends. Who knows, you might even decide to permanently relocate to an international destination like Asia. In that case, Mandarin Chinese would be a useful language to know. With over 1.3 billion native speakers, it’s the most spoken language in the world.

Whether you want to travel or move up in your career, the lifetime value of learning a new language is worth the time and effort it takes to do so.

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