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5 ways speaking another language can help after graduation


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By Lorraine Ansell

As a student, thinking, talking and listening in two or more languages will put you at the top of the employment pile when it comes to graduate prospects.

It is already known that being bilingual has a range of benefits, ranging from enhanced social skills to better cognitive functioning. It has the potential to keep you mentally fit, give you an expanded view point and be able to multitask.  Bilingualism is seen in children as young as 11 months old. This suggests that even at such a young age, we have the capacity to learn processes that we will find useful in our working lives.

The real benefits though will come in the months and years after graduation, when you are competing with thousands of others for that dream job.

Recent research from CEMS – the Global Alliance in Management Education – alongside its corporate partner Universum, found that 87% of global hiring executives believe speaking more than one language fluently is important for future employability and 89% of undergraduates about to embark on careers agreed with this.

 As employers realise the benefits of a talent pool that can converse in a variety of languages and understand different cultures, here is a list of benefits students and graduates may consider to sell themselves when out in the recruitment market.

Top 5 benefits of being bilingual

1. Enhanced social skills – being bilingual suggests that you become more empathetic and are able to place yourself in other people’s shoes. This is a great asset when negotiating in the business world or working to get a project completed. Everyone wants to work with people that they feel comfortable with!

2. More earning power – being able to negotiate and connect with clients or partner businesses in their own language will make you a better employee which, in turn, means you can increase your earning power. Win-win for everyone.

3. Better work trips – fluency in another language can mean that you get top pick of the work trips. Pack that suitcase and remember your passport!

4. Good mental health – studies have suggested that speaking two or more languages could improve mental functions which may mean more resilience - a great skill to have.

5. Broadening outlook – being bilingual means that you can appreciate greater horizons and how to approach problem solving in different ways. In the multi-national world we live in, this is a fantastic tool to have.

If you have yet to dip your toe into the bilingual bay of languages then take a moment and consider it. Even if it’s primarily for fun, it will have the added bonus of increasing your value as a graduate and then as an employee.

So, where to start?

Try online language resources – if you’re already in employment, your company may support you with any costs associated with this and, if you’re currently a student, keep your eyes peeled for discounts.

Alternatively, take some time travelling in another country during a gap year or summer holiday, working along the way and learning languages at the same time. The best way to learn another language is by total immersion. Learn a new language, a new culture and have a life changing experience. It will not only enhance your professional career but enrich your personal life as well.

Finally, you could look at joining a language club where you can do a ‘language exchange’. This involves speaking to someone in English and then swapping, with your partnering talking to you in the language you want to study. A new friendship, a new language, and all while enjoying a cup of tea of coffee.

Learning another language can be more than just a vehicle to step up the career ladder, it can also be fun! You never know what you might take from it.

Lorraine Ansell graduated from the CEMS programme with a Master in International Management. She speaks three languages and runs her own successful voiceover company providing services to the film, TV, gaming, audiobook and radio world. She is the Society of Voice Arts Awards finalist for outstanding TV promo campaign. She is also a BAFTA Crew Games Member.

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