Can Only Speaking One Language Reduce your Chances of Promotion?

It has long been accepted that the ability to speak another language can provide real benefits for your brain; but new research suggests it could also increase your chances of promotion.

These days, forward-thinking companies are seeking those with a breadth and depth of experience and learning, who thrive on change and are comfortable with ambiguity. Given the latest research into the cognitive benefits of multilingualism, it could well be the case that the ability to speak and write a foreign language is one hidden signpost that points towards the future stars of business.

Multinational companies have long recognised the benefits of multilingualism as a method of bridging the chasm that exists between business cultures. But could the ability to communicate in more than one language really increase your chances of promotion?

The research’s findings

The headline finding of Born Global, a recent study carried out by the British Academy, is that:

‘There are two disadvantages in global language arrangements: one is not knowing English; the other is only knowing English’.

Multinational companies recognise language skills as an advantage, particularly if they have been developed through international experience and academic study or training. As such, employers seeking culturally intelligent workers with a global mind-set will often look to recruit and promote those who can speak two or more languages.

Those who have studied foreign languages are perceived as having a more refined cognitive framework in which to make decisions and solve problems. It is not the ability to speak a foreign language fluently that makes an individual more employable; it’s the more subtle ability to recognise, understand and interpret cultural differences. This is particularly relevant in management and leadership positions.

Improvements in decision making

Researchers at a Barcelona University found that people tend to make more rational decisions in their second language, which is due to the added distance this puts between them and the decision. Second language learners can be more able negotiators, as they can see other people’s perspectives more clearly. There’s also an enhanced capacity to switch between tasks, and a greater ability to set priorities.

The researchers found that it didn’t matter whether the second language the employees spoke was French or Arabic, or even a less popular language such as Welsh. The enhanced ability remained the same.

The importance of diversity in leadership and management roles

The ability to speak at least one other language and relate to customers, clients and suppliers in other parts of the world is a distinct advantage in leadership and management roles. Knowledge of the local language adds value, and can play a significant role in oiling the wheels of commerce. Ultimately, it is these benefits that improve the promotion prospects of second language speakers.

How can we help?

If you speak English and have a second language fluency, we can help you find a rewarding and well paid career on the South Coast. For more information, please take a look at our latest vacancies or send us your CV today.

Five of the Best Foreign Language Jobs for Linguists

A foreign language proficiency can set you up for many more roles than you might immediately consider. A job as a linguist, translator or interpreter are the obvious choices for language learners, but increasingly positions in advertising, sales, finance, management, teaching, journalism, international charities and the civil service demand a level of language skills that currently in the UK we are struggling to meet.

One thing’s for sure, language graduates are not without plenty of options. The secret services (MI5 and GCHQ) are employers of linguists, as are the army and the police force, so if you think your time spent studying languages will consign you to a desk job, think again.

In this article we’re going to take a look at some of the jobs in which languages can give you a definite edge. We’ll explore some of the universities that offer job appropriate degrees, and take a look at a few of the typical employers in each sector.


A role for cool-headed, quick witted and exceptional linguists

The role of a professional interpreter might be one of the more obvious entries in our list, but there’s plenty of demand out there for quality interpreters at international conferences, smaller business meetings and even over the telephone. Speakers only pause briefly to allow interpreters to relay what has been said, so it’s essential potential candidates can go from one language to another instantaneously.

Employers: Potential employers include the civil service, the United Nations, the public sector, the European Commission and other European Institutions.

Universities: Universities offering interpreter degree programmes include Leicester, Newcastle, Middlesex and Portsmouth.


For word-perfect writers with an eye for detail

The role of a translator is to convert texts of all kind, literary, scientific, technical and commercial, into other languages. Large-scale international companies and translation agencies are always on the lookout for quality translators who also deliver a high standard of customer care.

Employers: Translation agencies, international companies, charities and the government.

Universities: Birmingham, Nottingham, Hull and Swansea universities all offer dedicated translation degree courses.


For linguists who like long holidays and have the patience of a saint

The UK is desperately short of foreign language teachers at secondary school level. The government offers postgraduate grants of up to £25,000 to train as a secondary school teacher, and with plenty of jobs available, there shouldn’t be any problem securing a position in your area.

Employers: Private schools and secondary schools across the UK.

Universities: Bath Spa and Exeter both offer postgraduate teacher training positions for linguists.


A diverse range of roles for the commercially aware

UK businesses and international companies based in the UK are looking for foreign language speakers in marketing, sales, finance, management and in customer service roles. Multilingual employees are highly prized in the business world and are a perfect fit for the international aspirations of many organisations.

Employers: Leading multinational companies across all sectors.

Universities: There are a whole host of universities offering business and management courses combined with an international language, such as King’s College London, Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds.


Pick this is you have a sense of adventure and a head for business

Languages can be incredibly useful in the travel industry, from sales and marketing roles to hospitality, tour guiding and many more. English might be the lingua franca of the travel industry, but liaising with customers and suppliers in their own language can really reap rewards.

Employers: Tour operators, hotels, booking websites and travel agencies.

Universities: Aberystwyth, Plymouth, Huddersfield and Sheffield Hallam all offer travel courses for language learners.

How can we help?

At Linguistica Recruitment, we offer a diverse range of foreign language jobs across the South Coast of England. Take a look at our current vacancies for details of jobs in your area or submit your CV today.