How language learning can improve your life for the better

Pearson Languages
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Reading time: 7 minutes

Language learning is more than just something you study—it's a strategic move that integrates into every aspect of your life—socially, professionally and mentally. With English often being the common ground for global business, communicating effectively in this language has never been more important.
In this post, we uncover the benefits of language proficiency, particularly in English, backed by relevant statistics and insights from Pearson's recent ground-breaking new research.

Earn up to 80% more with better English skills | Pearson Impact of English
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The transformative power of language proficiency

Did you know that 20% of the world's population speaks English as a first, second, or additional language? This underscores the vital role English plays in our global society.

Our research illustrates a compelling link between language proficiency and career development—highlighting that 80% of employees see English proficiency as critical for determining earning potential.

Fluency in English or any widely used language can boost your employability. It isn't simply a line on a resume; it's access to opportunities, potentially higher salaries and greater job satisfaction. Yet a noticeable gap exists between the language learned in formal education and the practical skills needed in the workplace.

What are the benefits to learning English?

There are several benefits to learning English or any new language but here are just a few examples to give you reasons to start learning today:

Bridging the skills gap

Here's the kicker—linguistic agility offers more than just a competitive edge professionally; it fosters better communication, enhances collaboration and enriches relationships in both personal and professional lives.

But how do modern language learners adapt to this demand? Gen Z learners are trailblazers, often turning to self-service apps and social media videos to refine their English capabilities. Interactive technologies like online games and chat rooms find favor with this tech-savvy generation, reflecting a dynamic shift towards digital fluency.

Salary and social benefits

Speaking multiple languages boosts your social game; it positively correlates with higher salaries and elevates job opportunities. English proficiency is seen as a transformative investment, one that shapes both professional and personal dimensions of life.

Interestingly, the financial advantages of being proficient in languages, especially English, are significant. Studies suggest that bilingual individuals can earn between 5% to 20% more per hour compared to those who speak only one language. This "language premium" varies by industry and location but generally holds true across a range of professions.

With globalization at its peak, the ability to communicate in English not only enhances job prospects but directly translates into economic benefits. Language learning is not just an academic achievement but a smart career move.

There's growing advocacy for a skills-based approach instead of focusing solely on vocabulary and grammar. Practical application in speaking, writing, listening and reading can close the gap between classroom learning and real-world requirements.

Increase your cognitive ability

Learning foreign languages is proven in scientific research as a great way to retain brain power in a challenging way. Studies show brain changes in electrical structure and size when studying other languages —changes that are rare if learners learn a specific task or ability.

It is possible for someone (no matter their age) to gain more experience with linguistics and to learn more languages. Read more on our post ‘Being bilingual can help keep your brain in good condition’.

It makes other languages easier too

We often learn a language without consciously understanding its rules and many of us have no idea what rules they're going by. However, learning another language means learning all about the rules. Often, those who have learned their first language find themselves learning more of their native language, such as a more accurate vocabulary and a more accurate vocabulary than they expected. When you learn other Indo-European languages (for example French), you will likely find considerable quantities of borrowed vocabulary that will help you understand English.

You have access to more information and entertainment

Being more proficient in English also enables you to enjoy more digital content. Approximately 60% of online content is in English. This large amount of English online not only shapes the digital landscape, but also influences access to information and entertainment. For English learners, this dominance may represent a barrier to a wealth of knowledge and cultural exchange.

Equally, for those fluent in English, the language helps because it opens up an expansive universe of information, educational resources, cutting-edge research and global entertainment options that would otherwise be inaccessible. From streaming the latest Hollywood blockbusters to participating in online courses from prestigious universities around the globe, proficiency in English significantly expands your digital horizon.

Access world-class education systems and establishments

The other reason students have for studying English is that you'll have access to the world's best educational institutions. Some of the top universities in the world are either in the United States and Britain or use English in their courses and this means that English is crucial in applying. A high level of English is essential for a student studying in English at university.

Start a life in an English-speaking country

Another advantage of studying English is it offers the potential of moving to a foreign language country. Usually, to become a citizen in an English-speaking country, you must be fluent in English. Speaking and learning English can help increase job chances, improve communication skills and help people converse and communicate successfully.

Build deeper connections with more people

30% of people are learning English to make more friends, and it's no surprise. By being able to speak another language you can communicate clearly to a wider range of people, not only in your personal life but also professionally. This ability fosters deeper, more meaningful relationships and can open doors to understanding another culture and experiencing diverse cultures more intimately. Almost half of the respondents said that improving their English proficiency boosted their confidence levels in other areas of life, not just at work. The more progress you make, the more confident you feel.

Language proficiency enables you to engage in conversations beyond casual conversation, allowing for a richer, more authentic exchange of ideas and traditions from other cultures. The joy of connecting with someone in their first language is a rewarding experience that broadens your perspective and nurtures a global sensibility.

Boosts your confidence

Learning a new language, especially English, requires stepping out of your linguistic comfort zone. It can significantly boost your self-esteem and self-confidence. People with a lower level of proficiency often feel that better English would make them happier in life. The process of learning a language is empowering, and every new word learned and every conversation understood serves as a milestone, reinforcing the learner's belief in their abilities.

Sometimes, unclear communication can be a setback to your confidence, especially in a professional setting. Our research has discovered that 72% of the respondents believe their job would be easier if they had a better grasp of the English language. Furthermore, only 10% of employees with limited English proficiency feel that they can articulate themselves fully at work.

The confidence gained from improving language skills can extend to work and other areas of life, motivating you to take on challenges you may have previously avoided. Essentially, the process of learning a language not only leads to proficiency but also personal growth. This creates a positive feedback loop where increased confidence results in even greater language skills, which, in turn, fosters more confidence.

How English improves lives

We have discussed some examples of how English can assist you in your daily life. However, do not just take our word for it:

“English literally saved my life many times. When I was a student, I struggled with motivation. I didn’t like any subjects, didn’t do homework, and didn’t read books. But then my English tutor helped me fall in love with English. English became an escape for me and a chance to develop a new identity as a curious, passionate and capable learner.

99% of everything I read and learned happened in English. Later, when I came to the US, English helped me survive and move from low-paid, manual jobs to better-paid jobs that required effective communication: server, bartender, and English teacher.

To this day, English is the superpower that helps me work alongside my colleagues and world-class experts and make a difference.”

- Illya Gogin, Director of Product at Pearson

If you're a language learner, a student about to enter the job market, or simply interested in the power and benefits of learning a language, there are a world of resources available. The GSE is an amazing tool that can help you achieve your language goals, make sure to read more about how it can improve your English proficiency here: The Global Scale of English for learners.

Ready to start reaping the benefits of language learning? Read our report to uncover more enlightening statistics and details that could chart the course of your language learning adventure.

Learning a new language isn't just an educational challenge—it's a step toward a more vibrant, connected, and fulfilling life. Embark on this linguistic voyage and watch the world open up in ways you've never imagined.

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  • A young child smiling in a classroom with a crayon in his hand.

    Young learners of English deserve more

    By Ehsan Gorji
    Reading time: 3 minutes

    Imagine a class of English language students aged 8 – 9 taught by a dynamic teacher they love. The young learners sit together for two hours, three times a week to learn English as a Foreign Language (EFL). The vibe they bring with them to the class, plus the dynamic teacher and the creativity she develops in her lesson plans, is fantastic.

    I have been observing trends in teaching EFL to young learners, and it is clear to me that school directors, syllabus generators, teachers, parents and learners are all satisfied with this image… “Hooray! Young learners sit together for two hours, three times a week to learn English as a Foreign Language. And the teacher is able to manage the class. Bravo!” But is it enough?

    What causes the lack of focus?

    It all begins with the coursebooks. If you take a coursebook for young learners and thumb through the ‘Scope and Sequence’ pages, you’ll see holistic definitions of language input in each unit. The school authorities then design a course based on the coursebook, and the snowball effect happens, whereby they design a course without specific details on what exactly to focus on.

    It is the teacher’s turn now. The creative and dynamic teacher provides an excellent classroom experience through which young learners can learn English together. She also assigns a piece of homework: write an email to a friend and tell her about your last holiday.

    When the teacher reviews the emails, she smiles as she finds many uses of the simple past tense—both in affirmative and negative forms. She then drafts an email thanking everyone and praising them generously. She includes a link to a PDF of other exercises to reinforce the grammar (the next day in class, they will review the completed handouts).

    This hardworking teacher tries to blend her style with digital literacy and applies creativity along the way. Everything seems perfect in her class, and she regularly receives emails from parents thanking her. Nevertheless, some questions remain: What was the task? What was the learning outcome? Which learning objective should have been tracked?

    Let’s reconsider the task – this time with our critic’s hat on – and analyze what has been taking place in this class. It is very nice that young learners sit together to learn English, and the teacher is able to manage the class successfully, but having fun and ease alone is not enough. We should aim for “fun, ease and outcomes”.*

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

    Which important dynamics should be considered?

    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?

    If the coursebook had been equipped with clear and concrete learning objectives, the course directors would have employed them while designing study syllabuses, and the teacher would have used them when lesson planning. Consequently, the student’s formative and summative progress would have been evaluated against those detailed learning objectives rather than according to what some did better than the average.

    How can learning objectives be applied to tasks?

    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.

    For example, for our task, the GSE suggests the following learning objectives:

    • Can write short, simple personal emails/letters about familiar topics, given prompts or a model. (GSE 40/A2+)
    • Can use appropriate standard greetings and closings in simple, informal personal messages (e.g., postcards or emails). (GSE: 37/A2+)

    By applying language learning chunks – learning objectives, grammar and vocabulary – and identifying the can-do mission each one is supposed to accomplish, teaching and testing become more tangible, practical and measurable. Going back to my original scenario, it is excellent that young learners sit together for two hours, three times a week to learn English as a Foreign Language – provided that we know in detail which learning objectives to focus on, which skills to grow and what learning outcomes to expect.

  • A teacher stood at the front of the class talking to her class

    English for employability: Why teaching general English is not enough

    By Ehsan Gorji
    Reading time: 4 minutes

    Many English language learners are studying English with the aim of getting down to the nitty-gritty of the language they need for their profession. Whether the learner is an engineer, a lawyer, a nanny, a nurse, a police officer, a cook, or a salesperson, simply teaching general English or even English for specific purposes is not enough. We need to improve our learners’ skills for employability.

    The four maxims of conversation

    In his article Logic and Conversation, Paul Grice, a philosopher of language, proposes that every conversation is based on four maxims: quantity, quality, relation and manner. He believes that if these maxims combine successfully, then the best conversation will take place and the right message will be delivered to the right person at the right time.

    The four maxims take on a deeper significance when it comes to the workplace, where things are often more formal and more urgent. Many human resources (HR) managers have spent hours fine-tuning workplace conversations simply because a job candidate or employee has not been adequately educated to the level of English language that a job role demands. This, coupled with the fact that many companies across the globe are adopting English as their official corporate language, has resulted in a new requirement in the world of business: mastery of the English language.

    It would not be satisfactory for an employee to be turned down for a job vacancy, to be disqualified after a while; or fail to fulfil his or her assigned tasks, because their English language profile either does not correlate with what the job fully expects or does not possess even the essential must-have can-dos of the job role.

    How the GSE Job Profiles can help

    The Job Profiles within the Global Scale of English (GSE) Teacher Toolkit can help target those ‘must-have can-dos’ related to various job roles. The ‘Choose Learner’ drop-down menu offers the opportunity to view GSE Learning Objectives for four learner types: in this case, select ‘Professional Learners’. You can then click on the ‘Choose Job Role’ button to narrow down the objectives specific for a particular job role – for example, ‘Office and Administrative Support’ and then ‘Hotel, Motel and Resort Desk Clerks’.

    Then, I can choose the GSE/CEFR range I want to apply to my results. In this example, I would like to know what English language skills a hotel desk clerk is expected to master for B1-B1+/GSE: 43-58.

  • A classroom with students sat at desks and one student stood at the front with the teacher

    Forward-looking reflective teaching

    By Ehsan Gorji

    Ehsan Gorji is an Iranian teacher, teacher trainer and teacher educator. He also designs strategic plans, devises study syllabuses, runs quality-check observations, and develops materials and tests for different language institutes and schools in the country. Ehsan has been a GSE Thought Leader and Expert Rater since 2016. 

    Reflective teaching, despite it sounding modern and sophisticated, has not yet become a common practice among English language teachers. However, the experiential learning cycle proposed by Jim Scrivener offers a practical approach for teachers. The cycle involves teaching a lesson, reflecting on "what we did" and "how we did them," and then using that reflection to improve future English classes. By using this approach, teachers can prepare for better teaching in the long term.