Over the last ten years universities have experienced an unprecedented influx of interest, and in recent years, with the rise in tuition fees and an unstable job market, more and more graduates have left higher education and felt the pinch of the recession as the reality of unemployment statistics hits home.
With the job market so competitive, it’s worth improving your chances by incorporating a diverse skill-set into your CV which will give you that slight edge, raising your chances against a vast opposition.
A common misconception, largely held by those whose primary language is English, is that learning another language is superfluous to requirement. Most European destinations, and many others, are educated in both basic and fluent English, so why learn any other languages?
Not only is this a step in exercising common courtesy when visiting another country, but learning a second language can help you to better understand entire cultures, which could make you all the more employable.
Learning a second language is not only an invaluable tool in everyday life, it also proves a very attractive attribute when dealing with potential employers. International relations in business are more prominent than ever; and if you are comfortable dealing fluently and professionally with foreign clients and colleagues in their native tongue, then you yourself become ever more so the invaluable asset.
These days it can feel like even a first class degree isn’t enough to seal the employment deal, so having a second language on your CV could give you the edge when searching for graduate positions. Just don’t, whatever you do, lie about the quality of your language skills when applying for jobs. If the role you’re applying for lists the ability to speak French as ‘desirable’, you can bet that someone on the interview panel will be invited in to test your skills.
If you want to learn a second language or develop an existing one that only ever makes an appearance on holiday, there are tools and techniques to use which will help you along the way:
Practice in Conversation
If you have a friend or family member who just so happens to speak the language you’re aiming to learn, get them to speak it around you. The best way to pick up new words and understand meanings and contexts is to use the vocabulary conversationally.
There are plenty of language courses you can purchase for use with your home computer that will take you comfortably through the steps of learning new vocabulary and pronunciation. Investing in one of these is well worth your time and money, as they come tailored to a range of abilities and you can learn at your own speed.
There are also plenty of apps and online tools that can help you in your efforts, for instance using Google translate when chatting online can help improve your use of vocabulary and it’s good if you get stuck mid-sentence.
Hire a Tutor
If you can afford the time and costs of investing in private sessions with a tutor, this can be very beneficial to the speed and accuracy of your learning. Conversational slip-ups are inevitable, but if you come into pronunciation difficulties and turn something like “three apples, please” into a slur of some sort, it helps to do it in the privacy of your own tutoring sessions.
Learn with Your Institution
There are plenty of opportunities whilst studying at university or college to pick up another language. Most institutions will offer in-house courses, and depending on your course, there could be opportunities for exchange trips and study abroad. The British Council also offers additional monthly funding through the Erasmus scheme for students who decide to study abroad.
If you have any experiences of learning a second language, or the benefits of having done so, please comment below to share your point of view.
Louise Blake is a new mum and an aspiring writer. She graduated with a degree in Creative Writing and now blogs for Carrot Rewards about great educational opportunities and developments.