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How College Graduates Can Benefit from Learning a Foreign Language

Fluency in a second language is highly beneficial for recent college graduates in key industries such as administrative services, healthcare, wholesale trade, travel and tourism, and finance. One recruiter, B. Max Dubroff, from an HR advisory firm, elaborated on the benefits of language training when he said, “In many ways, language is the study of interactions; if you value language, you are also more likely to value other people.”

Bilingual Employees Promote Workplace Efficiency

What makes graduates with language training stand out is their ability to understand and empathize with those of other cultures. This in turn promotes dialogue and greater efficiency within the workplace. Forbes elaborated on this in an article that stated, “It opens you up to a large swath of professionals and individuals who speak the same language considerably widening your network of helpful contacts. These are people you could either do business with or serve as a go-between during business negotiations and meetings. In today’s global world, learning a foreign language is essential to your success in another country.”

Industries That Seek Employees Who Speak Foreign Languages

In healthcare, it is crucial to understand the needs of patients who may not speak the same language as the medical professional. This is where knowledge of medical interpreting comes into play. Medical interpreting is a field in which the interpreter provides language services to non-English speaking patients and allows these patients to communicate with physicians, nurses, and other healthcare support staff. A recent college graduate with fluency in a second or even third language can consider medical interpreting as a profession and be recognized in a field that is projected to increase by 29% between 2014-2024. The US Department of Labor estimated that there will be a 42% increase in demand for interpreters and translators over the next decade and a recruitment agency recently stated that knowledge of a foreign language can add between 10-15% to your salary. For more information on medical interpretation training, visit

Other industries include:

Wholesale trade: Partners and vendors who speak a different language need to have their needs met and understood in their primary language. If the company’s representative speaks the same language as that particular vendor or partner, negotiations and contracts will be settled in a more efficient and precise manner.

Travel & Tourism: Travel agents and coordinators must be able to fulfill the requests of their clients and help them to make the necessary travel arrangements when considering traveling to another country or even within the same country. Tourism organizations have to publish materials that speak to a vast array of cultures. Speaking a second language enables better communication between clients and allows them to feel like you can truly understand them.

Finance: In an article posted in the Harvard Business Review, the author of the article stated, “For example, when in a meeting a Brit says slowly and thoughtfully, “Very interesting”, he likely means “I don’t like it.” If a Dutch businessman is present, he will understand the Brit’s communique as “We’re impressed.” These culture-specific expressions can be misunderstood and cost potential deals and business negotiations. Being aware of culture-specific colloquialisms and expressions is always seen as an addition to employees, especially if you have foreign language experience or experience abroad.

With these facts in mind, there are significant benefits to understanding and speaking a second language. It fosters greater intercultural communication and shows that graduates possessing knowledge of a second language are better attuned to an increasingly globalized workforce. Breaking the language barrier only helps rather than hinders career growth and success.

Advance your career with ALTA, the top leader in online language training and even private language instruction. For more information on available languages for instruction, visit today.

Caitlin Gong is a freelance writer and blogger for ALTA’s Beyond Words blog and studied communications at Monmouth University. She was born and raised in New Jersey where she still resides. Her primary interests in language are translation and interpretation.


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