When thinking about picking up a new language, you probably have a clear-cut motivation for learning that language: traveling to a new country, study abroad, family, business in a new territory, or increasing your career opportunities.
These reasons are all legitimate reasons for an individual to pick up a new language, but businesses will be glad to know that there are many varied benefits to learning a foreign language that surpass just being able to do business in foreign lands.
Bilingual People Have Improved Brain Function
The first benefit might give you pause, wondering if it’s actually true, but the science actually does back up this claim. Bilingualism creates changes in brain wiring that researchers tracking brain activity can actually see. Using neuroimaging, scientists have found that bilinguals show more activity in the pre-frontal cortex.
Scientists believe that bilinguals have increased neural pathways that change more readily, probably because they make more micro-decisions. For example, when someone who speaks only English would look at a dog and say “dog”. A bilingual will have two alternatives, causing their brain to work differently.
Improve Multi-Tasking Skills
According to a study from Penn State university, switching from one language to another rapidly also assists with your multi-tasking skills. Having the ability to switch between more than one language seems to carry over to juggling tasks as well. The study found that bilingual candidates routinely tested better at performing additional tasks while operating a driving simulator than those who were monolingual.
Decision Making Ability Increases
Decision making is an absolute must in any field of business and is a quality that most companies look for when hiring and promoting individuals. When speaking a different language there are rules and grammar that are associated with that language. Slang and subtle differences in a language or dialect can have multiple meanings in each language. These discrepancies can mean the difference between giving a great compliment or an insult in a business setting. Due to this, those who speak multiple languages seem to be far more careful with what they say, which in turn helps them improve their decision-making skills.
Cost of Learning a New Language
The list of benefits for learning a new language in business is lengthy and will always be a highly sought after skill for individuals to have. Learning a new language can be costly though. Along with time and dedication it can also be very costly to master a new language.
To spark your curiosity, Couponbox.com, a money saving website, recently put together a guide that calculates the cost per hour of each language, as advised by the Foreign Services Institute. There is quite a difference between hourly costs of tuition depending upon which language you are learning. You can view the guide below.
As you can see, even though it takes more hours to learn Malay than other languages, but its cheap hourly tuition rate makes it the cheapest choice.
For those who don’t mind the cost, Chinese (Mandarin) is one of the most difficult languages and is definitely the most expensive to learn. With over 1 billion people around the world speaking Chinese, taking the time to learn it will give any individual an extreme advantage when looking to do business internationally.