Learning another language adds value; best places to go

If not on the hunt to level-up this season with a new position, up-skilling should definitely be on your list. And in an increasingly interconnected world with multi-national companies and relationships, learning another language and the customs from a partner firm or vendor outside of the United States brings value to your personal brand and professional portfolio.

And one of the best ways to learn is through emersion, where multilingualism and multiculturalism is a way of life. And where most residents speak a second language, sometimes several. 

A new report from the online tutoring and training experts at Preply ranks nations that offer the best environment to learn another language based on 18 factors split across seven clusters, including:

• The Number of Official Languages: The number of languages recognized as ‘official’ on the government website of each respective country

• Multilingualism: The number of foreign languages spoken by citizens of each respective country, ranging from ‘no foreign language’ to ‘three foreign languages.

• Language Learning in School: The percentage of children taught a foreign language in primary school.

• Level of Command of Best Known Foreign-Language: The level of second-language proficiency of citizens in each respective country.

• Language Learning Through Technology: The better the access to technology, the better the access to multiple tools for online learning.

• Sub vs Dub: Subtitles are the best tool for learning a new language, and score higher than dubbing, voiceover, or a mix of all three.

• Language Diversity: The number of spoken languages in any given country, the number of immigrants, and the number of languages on the government’s official website.

Final scores were calculated and averaged to uncover the countries that provide the best environment for learning a new language.

The Worldwide Language Index found the small European nation of Luxembourg as the best country to learn a new language, followed by Sweden and Cyprus.

In Luxembourg, 100 percent of children start learning foreign languages in primary school, compared to 94 percent of children in Sweden. The Netherlands ranks first for the percentage of households that have internet access, with 98 percent coverage compared to 96 percent in the United Kingdom and 89 percent in Canada.

The United States by comparison has just 82 percent internet coverage , which is less than both Romania and Italy.

Germany ranks No. 16 overall in the Worldwide Language Index, ahead of France at No. 23 and Italy at No. 29. While far more children are taught a foreign language in primary school in Italy and France compared to Germany, the level of command of the best known foreign language in Germany is far higher, along with the number of spoken languages.

So heed the recommendations made with the Worldwide Language Index if you would like to greatly improve your career capabilities and can take some time to immerse yourself within a culture to fully learn the language and customs.

Companies like Intel, the global semiconductor giant, requires employees to take an eight-week sabbatical every seven years for self-improvement; what better time to learn another language, which can be brought back to the office and used to improve relations with satellite offices or vendor-partners.

Other companies that encourage sabbaticals include software maker Adobe, financial services firms Charles Schwab and PayPal, bioscience companies Biogen and Genentech, finance and accounting consultants Deloitte, among others.

Full emersion all but assures language mastery, which raises the value of your personal brand and can help you level-up with a new or existing employer.

Photo by Matheus Bertelli

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