The value of language skills in the workplace

Claire Chettiar
Three business people walking through a hallway smilng

Language skills have become increasingly important in the workplace as the world becomes more globalized and connected. Having the ability to communicate effectively in more than one language is very valuable, and with English being a leading lingua franca for businesses across the world, language skills sit at the heart of business success.

Here we highlight four top reasons why language skills are so valuable in the workplace.

Enhanced communication

Effective communication is the number one soft skill that employers look for, according to LinkedIn. Having strong language skills enables better communication with clients and colleagues, and also helps to work effectively with people from different cultures. It builds solid relationships and reduces frustration where customers or colleagues may otherwise feel that they are not understood or listened to.

Career opportunities

Having different languages on your CV can really help to stand out among other candidates. For some industries it is essential, such as tourism, where it is necessary to serve clients from different countries, and this is also true where companies serve clients in international markets.

Where businesses are increasingly moving to hybrid working practices that can include teams spread across different countries and timezones, it is also becoming more of an expectation and advantage to be able to connect through a central language, such as English.

Furthermore, having English language skills can provide employees with better networking opportunities, in particular through conferences, trade shows and social media platforms such as LinkedIn.

Cultural awareness

Learning a language opens you up to understanding more about other countries and cultures and being able to sensitively apply this in your interactions with others. This is critical in today’s diverse workplaces and is also a central part of the DE&I agenda of many companies.

Personal growth

Learning a new language can be a very enriching experience that enhances personal growth and skills development. Language learning doesn't just impact communication skills; it's also been noted that learning a language helps the brain process and remember information more efficiently[1], as well as developing new cognitive and problem-solving skills.

Learning a new language requires discipline, dedication, and patience, which are qualities that can be applied to other areas of work and life.

To summarise, language skills are highly valuable in the workplace and can open up new career opportunities for employees, as well as adding tangible benefits to businesses. Investing in language skills can increase an employee's value, and this can help them succeed in today's ever-evolving work landscape.

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    *Assessing Young Learners of English: Global and Local Perspectives, Dr Marianne Nikolov, 2016.

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    The assigned piece of homework said: write an email to a friend and tell her about your last holiday. However, what actually occurred was a shift from this task to the students’ best performance in producing simple past-tense sentences. There are other important dynamics that have migrated out of the teacher’s focus. Did the students begin their emails appropriately? Was the tone appropriate? Did they pay attention to organizing their thoughts into sentences and paragraphs? Was the punctuation correct? Did they end their emails in the right way?

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    With the Global Scale of English (GSE), publishers, course designers, teachers, and even parents can access a new world of English language teaching and testing. This global English language standard provides specific learning objectives for young learners that can be applied to tasks.

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    Tips and activities

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