The American Melting Pot: 3 Top Languages to Know for the Bilingual Workplace
It’s a common misconception that English is the official language of the USA. That, coupled with jokes about how Americans can only speak one language (English) makes it seem as if knowing another language in the American workplace is just a superfluous and unnecessary skill.
This pervading point of view is simply not true. The United States is home to people who come from all over the globe and knowing a single language doesn’t seem to be cutting it these days. In fact, it’s becoming more of necessity, not just for advancement purposes, but simply to get by. Take into account these three top spoken languages in the United States and reasons why you should consider learning each one.
With over 35 million Spanish speakers in the United States alone, it is no surprise that knowing Spanish is a big must. Being able to speak Spanish will come in handy in key states such as California and Texas. From my experience in the business world in South Texas, it’s ideal to have at least a basic grasp of Spanish – you’ll encounter Mexican nationals who can’t speak English, and you’ll be glad you learned when you’re trying to navigate the intricacies of Spanglish. In most of these border towns people use Spanglish as a part of everyday life and your own life will be made easier when you can understand exactly what’s going on around you.
Knowing Mandarin or Cantonese is a big deal. The USA and China are very closely intertwined when it comes to business so having a grasp on one of these two dialects will make your job easier. Many times it’s assumed that Chinese businessmen will speak English, but why not do your part and work on your Chinese? An added bonus is that Chinese is one of the official languages of the U.N. so if you want to work for the US government or some other similar institution, knowing Chinese takes precedence over most other languages.
If you work in the health industry in the United States, knowing Tagalog can be a big help. The USA has long struggled with shortages in areas of nursing and Filipinos in particular have filled a large chunk of that demand. The health industry is fast-paced and things can only become more difficult when statements are getting lost in translation. Communicating effectively in English and having the back-up option of Tagalog can definitely help you to avoid these issues.
Putting your language skills to the test can be intimidating, especially if you’re working in a fast-paced and stressful environment. But in many ways being bilingual in the American workplace can make your job easier; it can help you to be a more effective communicator, shows initiative on your part, and opens up more job opportunities. Brushing up on your second language is never a bad idea, regardless. Take a free online language test to see how good your foreign language skills are, and send a quick inquiry to further your studies! Once you’ve perfected your language skills, you won’t be afraid to put your talents to the test in your office or workspace. Happy learning!