What are the Consequences of Not Learning a Foreign Language?

by Kyra Sheahan

The expansion of globalization has led many individuals to understand the advantages of learning a foreign language. Many adults are going back to school or picking up language learning curriculum so that they can stay well-versed in the main languages spoken in the global business arena. However, there are personal reasons as well for people to wish to learn second or third languages. By not having a foreign language under your belt, you risk missing out on a world of opportunities.

Professional Disadvantage

Not knowing a foreign language might put you at a professional disadvantage. The business world is highly competitive, and many people actively look for ways to put themselves ahead in the job market. Learning a foreign language is one of those ways to get ahead, as employers often require or prefer to hire individuals who can speak another language, such as Spanish. Additionally, employers will pay employees more money when they are bilingual, as this trait is considered a specialization. As such, knowing a foreign language is another credential that you can add to your resume. When you do not possess this special skill set, employers could pass over your resume for that of someone who does. (Reference 1)

Cognitive Development

Learning a foreign language, especially in your early years, abets your cognitive development. The act of learning a language stimulates basic cognitive abilities, such as problem-solving and memorization, as well as creativity and analytical skills. Young students or adults who are not exposed to foreign language lessons do not share the same cognitive development experience as individuals who are exposed. This is not to say that a cognitive deficit is the result of not learning a foreign language. However, those who do not put cognitive skills to use may not develop the same skill set when it comes to such things as memorization.

Cultural Experience

A foreign language gives you insight into a new culture. By learning a foreign language you start to experience details about a region of the world that you never knew existed. This type of cultural awareness can be advantageous to your ability to work well with others, be open to new ideas and embrace cultural differences. However, missing out on this cultural experience can cause you to feel culturally isolated. Many people long to learn foreign languages so that they can enrich their lives.

Personal Limitations

Salespeople who can speak foreign languages are at a greater advantage for closing deals than salespeople who are monolingual. It is incorrect to assume that everybody speaks the same language, and that, therefore, all business dealings should be handled in one language. You can diversify your clientele -- and make more money -- when you learn a foreign language. By not having a foreign language behind you, you limit your clients, and, therefore, you limit your own potential.

Travels

If you enjoy traveling to foreign countries, but do not know how to speak the language, you may feel isolated and lost during your trip. People who know foreign languages can appreciate their independence when they travel, and not have to play charades when asking where the train station or restroom is.

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