While it is often required by many non-native English speakers to learn English for business, native-English speakers often don’t have to take the time to learn another language. While it’s acknowledged that English is the universal language, more than half of those in the UK, for example, feel it would be beneficial to learn another.
If you work with a global organization or plan/attend global events, learning a second language can give you the extra edge to succeed in your career and can make you a viable candidate for promotions and relocation for a better position. As an individual who works within in the events industry, you might also have to work with others who speak another language or deal with technology that comes with multilingual options. Learning another language can also be an asset for those who attend international events and who are looking to connect with attendees.
When to Learn a New Language
Though most individuals begin learning a new language at a younger age and while they are in school, it can happen at anytime. However, most experts agree that those who truly want to become fluent should start taking classes before their mid-fifties. For business purposes, it’s not a bad idea to begin sooner rather than later. Fortunately for those who were not exposed to multiple languages as a child, it’s still possible and encouraged by most companies to learn a second language even if you are a bit older.
If you find yourself branching into the global events industry, then the time to start learning a language is now. Not only will you be able to communicate better with vendors pre-event and onsite, but you can help answer any questions from local attendees without having to use a translator; saving you time and money.
What Language Should I Learn?
While most companies agree that learning another language is important for professional development, choosing which one to learn can be a bit more difficult—especially if you are working with a globalized company that conducts business with many different countries. However, most CEOs recommend that you do some research into what it is exactly your company does and where you are located.
If you are in the United States, you might be encouraged to learn Spanish more than you would be expected to learn Japanese. For English speakers in the UK, most companies agree that a basic knowledge in French and German are the best to learn considering what kind of business you do and who else in the European Union that you work with.
The kind of events you attend or plan can also be a determining factor when you are deciding what language to learn. If you attend evens in multiple areas, bilingualism might not even be enough to interact with available clients—it might be required to learn a third or even a fourth language. When you are aware of where most of your clients are based or where there might be an emerging market that you want to be able to connect with, it can be a lot easier to choose which language would end up benefiting you and your business.
What Is the Best Way to Learn a New Language?
Now more than ever, it is easy to learn a new language in your spare time. Whether you decide to choose a software that teaches you the basics and take time to learn on your own, or you are thinking about taking a class, all can be beneficial when you are first starting out—especially if you show some dedication and make sure to practice.
However, for those who would like to learn quickly, taking a class can often be the best choice when you want to see results over a short matter of time. Sometimes, your company will even be willing to pay for your continuing education. For even faster results, working with a private tutor can help. He or she will be able to identify exactly what you are struggling with and can come up with solutions to assist you with language acquisition. The curriculum is also more customizable and you can concentrate on subjects that are more likely to come up within the realm of your career.
Learning a Language Has Multiple Benefits
Not only can learning a second language be essential to the success of your business, but it can also reap positive rewards in many other ways. Experts agree that bilingualism can offset symptoms of dementia and can help prevent Alzheimers. Those who choose to acquire a second language usually have more empathy and an open mind to accepting foreign cultures and lifestyles.
It can also be greatly beneficial for those who work in the global events industry, where it is essential to be able to talk to potential clients or to plan events with those who speak a language different from your own. This will make the entire event process much quicker.
Make Your Event Multilingual
Though learning a new language is beneficial on a personal and professional level, there are other ways to remove the language barrier for your international attendees. This starts from obvious, but important acts of hiring bilingual staff members and including signage/marketing materials in other languages. To determine what exact languages to include, analyze attendee data and surveys to find the most popular languages within your audience. Take it a step further by selecting event software and/or an event mobile app that has multilanguage capabilities—and the more options, the better. Technology is universal, and having it available in a variety of languages puts your event ahead of the game.
With this in mind, there is no reason not to consider taking up another language—all it requires is some time and dedication to change your perspective and to develop your communication skills. Becoming bilingual is a skill that few master, but the positive results you can receive from taking the time to develop a second language. Within the event industry, it can be one of the defining features of your business and can help to expand your clientele and what types of events that you plan.
Written by: Alex Schnee