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Foreign language training can give you a step up the career ladder

Demand for German language training has shot up in Greece, according to the Goethe Institut, which organises classes around the world. It’s hardly surprising that the country’s economic woes have led to a 50 per cent rise in the numbers studying the language. Students see it as a passport to new opportunities in Europe’s healthiest economy.

Other countries hit hard by the Eurozone crisis are seeing a similar spike in interest. The Goethe Institut reports a 30 per cent boost in student numbers in Italy. There’s also been a big rise in Spain, particularly among young people, who are struggling with a 50 per cent youth unemployment rate. They’ve introduced special job-specific German language training to cater for the demand.

This trend is reflected in immigration rates. The number of Greeks moving to Germany rose 84 per cent in the first half of 2011, compared to the previous year. Other students see the language as a way to stand out in a very competitive jobs market at home.


Studying a language can give jobseekers an advantage

But it shouldn’t take a crisis to demonstrate the benefits of learning a foreign language. The QS Global Employer Survey Report 2011 found linguistic ability was one of the most highly-valued skills by employers. In an increasingly global economy, employees who speak German, Spanish, Arabic or Chinese can be a big benefit.

Of course, there are many obvious careers that spring to mind for bilingual speakers or languages graduates. The translation and localisation industries are growing, according to the Common Sense Advisory, meaning rising demand for professional translators. And there are plenty of opportunities in the tourism industry, whether as a tour guide, hotel manager or working for an airline or travel company.

Teaching is another popular career path. The recent drive to increase foreign language teaching in UK primary schools will mean more vacancies for multilingual teachers.

But it’s not just teaching or translating. If your company is exporting or doing business abroad, it always helps to speak another language. The British Chambers of Commerce recently complained that the UK’s poor linguistic skills could be holding us back in the global marketplace.

Multilingual employees often get paid more than monolingual peers, if they use their languages in their daily work. Their skills can also open doors to new opportunities. A poll by Korn/Ferry International, the world’s largest executive search firm, found that 64 per cent of executives spoke two or more languages.

If you’ve spent time living or working abroad, or have completed a degree, A-levels or other language training, it’s important to sell your skills. Highlight this on your CV and social media profiles. And if you’re a little rusty, don’t miss a chance to brush up. Reading foreign newspapers, listening to online radio and finding informal conversation classes can all help you stay up-to-date.

Being multilingual might not be a magic ticket to success, but it can certainly help you stand out from the crowd. And if you’re already a skilled linguist, why not check out the career opportunities at Lingo24?

Hazel Mollison

Hazel Mollison edits and writes for the Lingo24 blog. After studying Italian and German at Cambridge University, she worked as a journalist for five years with regional and national newspapers. She enjoys writing about languages, translation, online marketing, and helping small businesses explore new opportunities.

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