BY RACHEL SHARPE
If you want to increase your chances of getting a job when you graduate, you may want to learn to speak and communicate in more than one language. The numbers don’t lie. According to a recent survey by CareerBuilder.com if managers had two equally qualified job candidates, half of the managers polled would be more likely to choose the bilingual candidate.
CareerBuilder.com statistics also reveal that thirty-one percent of U.S. executives speak two languages, an additional 20 percent speak three languages, 9 percent speak four languages and 4 percent speak more than four. In addition, a recent key word search on the site showed more than 6,000 job postings seeking bilingual applicants.
Bilinguals are in demand in countless fields including retail, transportation, tourism, administration, secretarial, public relations, marketing and sales, banking, healthcare, translation, law and education. According to the National Association of International Educators, there is even a growing demand for people with foreign language skills in the federal government. There are many agencies that recruit people with foreign language skills including customs and border protection, intelligence, language specialists and customs entry and liquidation. Since September 11th, 2001, the FBI has hired over 1,000 linguists and is projected to hire many more in the coming years.
To find and keep bilingual candidates, employers are willing to pay big. On average, bilingual pay differentials range between 5 -20% per hour more than the position’s base rate, according to Salary.com. Employees who are bilingual in English and Spanish are particularly in demand. Latinos are now the nation’s largest minority group, accounting for half of the nation’s population growth since April 2001, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This group brings big potential for profits. Hispanics buying power has reached nearly $1 trillion, according to Hispanic Business, Inc. That’s a sizable reason for knowing how to communicate with the Spanish speaking market.
Studies show there are even cognitive benefits of being bilingual. Research from the University of California shows that bilingual students who learned their second language early on in their life had higher overall grades in math and english than students who only spoke one language. Children who are bilingual are known as “flexible learners” and studies even show that bilingual students have better reading and problem solving skills, because of their ability to filter through information at a faster rate. The latest research even proves that bilinguals are better at IQ tests as compared to monolinguals.
Learning a second language also gives people a better cultural understanding. Speaking a foreign language exposes people to a greater variety of literature, poetry, films and television programs and allows people to understand one another on a deeper level. Speaking another language can even help people understand their own language better because so many English words have Latin or Greek roots. Bilinguals also are aware about which language should be spoken with which people in particular situations, therefore they are often more sensitive to the needs of the listener then monolingual people. Being bilingual creates a powerful link in different people from different countries.
With the explosion of global markets, increase in international trade and new media technologies, it is clear that our society is becoming increasingly globalized. With the increasing amount of information technology, countries are becoming more interconnected in all aspects of economics, politics and culture. In order to compete in such a globalized world, it is crucial that young adults entering the job market are proficient in one or more foreign languages.