According to research, multilingualism can improve communication, intercultural sensitivity, cognitive abilities, and more. For these reasons, linguistics Professor Antonella Sorace of the University of Edinburgh suggests that businesses should hire more multilingual employees. For large multinational companies, multilingual employees are valuable assets and are increasingly being sought after.
Sorace is adamant about the many advantages that are derived from knowing more than one language and as a result is concerned about the widespread failure of education systems to promote foreign language learning. She believes that countries that are neglecting foreign language education are missing out on a more cognitively efficient and better communicating workforce.
Research has shown that speaking multiple languages betters leadership and management skills. One reason is that multilingual people have an enhanced awareness of other points of view. Another reason is that they are more likely than monolinguals to be able to give selective attention to specific features of a problem and at the same time ignore misleading information. The overall cognitive benefits are astounding and should be motivation for those young and old to learn at least one other language.
Multilingual employees also provide benefits to small and medium sized companies. In fact, a report for the European Commission in 2006 reported that 11 percent of European small and medium sized businesses had lost a contract due to poor language skills. In the words of the report, “a significant amount of business was sacrificed” as a result of these language blunders.
A largely multilingual population would also have positive cultural impacts. Often times, culture goes hand in hand with language and knowing more than one language would hopefully translate into greater respect and tolerance for other cultures and races. What other benefits do you think come from knowing additional languages? Feel free to comment below!