I’m sure you don’t need to be reminded that we are in tough economic times. While most of us haven’t been reduced to hopping trains in patched up clothing in search of handouts, unemployment is at an all time high and smart job-seekers are finding ways to make themselves more appealing to prospective employers. Becoming bilingual, really bilingual, is one of the surest ways to improve your chances of finding, keeping and advancing in your career.
Many organizations are not only actively seeking bilingual employees; they are sponsoring employee training programs to improve their skills in the office. This is especially true in government. Unsurprisingly states with large Hispanic populations such as Texas are offering incentive programs like one in Dallas offering stipends of $110 to $150 a month extra for city employees speaking both English and advanced Spanish. San Antonio pays an extra $50 a month if using Spanish helps them perform their duties. The trend is growing fastest in regions traditionally less interested in promoting bilingualism. Maryland police officers may receive between $1000 and $4000 a year extra for their Spanish skills and state employees in Washington can often expect a pay boost of at least 5%.
Regardless of geography or industry, studies show that bilinguals are not only more employable and out earn their counterparts, they may live longer and have better mental longevity. Children who grow up speaking more than one language get higher grades. You don’t need to be born bilingual to reap all these benefits either. An adult learner may never be mistaken for a native, but he can effectively learn a language with the right guidance.
Even if you’re gainfully employed in the job of your dreams, mastering a second language may be the best gift you’ve ever given yourself.