It’s cold out, and you didn’t get the promotion or the job. So what better time than now to think South America, Paris, Beijing, Moscow, Berlin, Cairo, Tokyo. The possibilities are endless.
Travel to any of these places, particularly the warmer ones, may sound so appealing right around now. But for most of us, it’s just not so easy to fly off and job-hunt from a cafe on Las Ramblas, Barcelona.
Still you can set yourself up for the future, and keep your brain sharp, by learning learning a new language. This will not just make travel easier one day, it’ll give you a competitive advantage as a job candidate in the here and now.
It’s not news that the name of the game for business is expansion, new markets in far-flung countries.
All The Bagg Group divisions — including Bagg Pro, Bagg Technology Resources (BTR), Bagg @ Your Service, Turn Key Staffing Solutions and Bagg Managed Resources — work with some clients who have business in other parts of the world.
Sure, it’s true that English is the language of commerce worldwide –and for science, air traffic controllers, the internet.
To be precise about it, English is used by nearly two billion people. And it has three times more non-native speakers than English native speakers.
So why learn to speak something other than English? For really good reason. All things being equal, if you can translate online postings, or connect with customers or suppliers in their own language, the hiring choice tilts in your favour.
That’s the obvious reason. But there are others less known — and just as important, even more so.
All the recruiters at The Bagg Group respect that job-hunting is tough. Yet at the risk of sounding like a Pollyanna – on the plus side, having down time does give you a window to upgrade skills and develop new interests.
Take this time to learn a new language, and job experts as well as countless psychologists say you’re doing your brain, as much as your resume, a favour.
Here’s our list of favourite reasons for suggesting to candidates (and encouraging ourselves) to tackle Japanese, French, Spanish or any other language when we come in from the cold.
1. Learning a new language prevents brain freeze, even in sub-zero weather. All the studies show learning a foreign language builds brain power. Challenging the brain to remember new words and communication patterns keeps the neurons working faster, harder.
2. The brain gets better at multi-tasking. A Penn State University study says when you learn a second language, your brain gets used to making fast switches. So it gets easier to jump from one activity to the other.
3. The days of “I’m so sorry, I forgot your name” may become a thing of the past. Learning a new language helps you remember the names of people who just shook your hand at a networking event. Why? According to studies, you flex your brain’s memory muscle when you learn foreign vocabulary and grammar.
4. You notice the interviewer’s subtle smiles and grimaces. A study out of Spain shows multilingual people observe better, are able to edit out useless information and instead focus more on details that matter. Any wonder that Hercules Poirot, Sherlock Holmes and James bond could speak more than English.
5. Improved decision-making: A study out of the University of Chicago shows bilinguals make more rational decisions. To cut to the chase, words have not just meaning, but emotional associations for us. That means we can’t help it, our thinking is somewhat biased.
Research shows words in our second language are less emotionally charged for us –so when we ponder, we have an easier time breaking out of same-old, same-old bias
6. Our English improves: Again, the studies say learn a new language, and you will automatically become more attuned to rules of your first language.
7. Our brain stays healthier, longer. Simply put, scientists have found that acquiring a second language, at any age, helps the brain think in complex ways for longer.
A recent York University study shows Alzheimer patients who know one language exclusively developed their symptoms on average about five years earlier than patients who have more than one language.
8. Small talk is more fun: When you learn a new language, you want to try it out. Even asking about the weather in a new language suddenly becomes incredibly interesting.
9. You get more reason to high-five yourself: As anyone who has learned a second language knows, there’s a big sense of achievement when you read an article in a different language and understand it, or watch a film without the subtitles. And pats on the back are great for keeping up morale.
If you’re an English-only speaker and feel you don’t have a knack for learning another language, we have a fact to prove you wrong.
The English language borrows words from 350 languages. And English has lent words to as many languages as it has borrowed from.
So you’re already speaking another language from time to time, you just don’t know it. Since you’ve begun, why not add a few more thousand words.