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5 Languages to Learn for a Changing Future

5 Languages to Learn for a Changing Future

Do you speak a foreign language? Why should you bother learning another language? As only 10% of Americans speak a foreign language (as opposed to 56% in the European Union), it seems that this is the majority stance in the USA.

Now this is a great pity, because learning a second language can:

  • Help prevent premature mental aging and may halt Alzheimer’s
  • Assist in multi- tasking
  • Open up business opportunities, giving you a competitive edge in the global marketplace
  • Broaden cross cultural skills making you a much better ambassador for your company

Take a look at Singapore where the government is actually subsidizing companies to help their key personnel learn Mandarin, in order to take advantage of China’s economic growth and potential. Over 900 million people speak Mandarin. In many parts of South East Asia, knowledge of Mandarin is a definite advantage.

Many people foolishly assume that because English is now the global language for commerce (1.6 billion people use it every day) that everybody they come into contact will be able to speak it. That’s not true at all!

What other languages should you aim to learn? Keep in mind that your choice depends on your business projects and your career objectives.

  • Russian (300 million speakers)- Russia is the top world producer of oil, timber, diamonds, gold, and natural gas.
  • Arabic (223 million speakers)- Six Arabic nations are in the top 50 UK export markets.
  • Spanish (329 million speakers globally, and spoken by 12% of USA citizens)- There’s lots of job opportunities for Spanish speakers.
  • Portuguese ( 240 million speakers)- Brazil’s economic growth together with 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games make this language an obvious future choice.

1. Mandarin Chinese

“All things are difficult before they are easy” – Chinese proverb

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Let’s face it–learning a whole new set of 80,000 characters in the form of ideograms is a major obstacle. But many experts say that you really only need to master 1,000 of the 3,500 in common use, to get by.

Another problem is that Chinese is a tonal language. There are four tones so the word ‘ba’ can have at least four different meanings, depending on which tone you use. It can mean ‘eight’, ‘to pull out’, ‘dad’ or to ‘to hold’!

Despite all this, there are lots of things that make Chinese easier to learn than other languages, believe it or not!

Look at these features:-

  • No conjugations
  • No plurals
  • No gendered nouns
  • Simple system for numerals
  • No tenses
  • Conditional sentences are straightforward
  • Simple prepositions

2. Russian

Russian uses the Cyrillic alphabet and you have to be prepared for a very complicated grammatical system. It uses no less than 6 cases for nouns and there is a complex system of tenses based on a logical approach to space, time, and reality.

Nouns are declined so if you are looking at a cat, stroking a cat or simply keeping the cat company, the word ‘cat’ declines. This means it will have a different ending for each of the above activities.

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3. Arabic

“If patience is bitter then its result is sweet.” – Arabic proverb

Arabic pronunciation can be a challenge. Some sounds (kh and a’a) are pronounced using the back of the throat, so these will take some practice. Word order takes some getting used to as the verb always come first. Also adjectives precede nouns. To make things more complicated, Arabic is written from right to left.

All Arabic words have a core root which usually consists of three consonants. This root defines the underlining meaning of the word. For example, the ‘ktb’ consonants usually represent the idea of ‘writing.’ You will find the ‘ktb’ root in the following words:

  • kutub = books
  • maktub = letter
  • maktab = school,office
  • kutubi = bookseller

4. Spanish

“Diligence is the mother of good fortune.” –Spanish proverb

Beware of false friends in the common Latin roots for many words. Lots of words sound very similar but look out for the following:

Embarazada does not mean ‘embarrassed.’ It means ‘pregnant!

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Violador does not mean ‘a driver breaking the rules of the road.’ It means a ‘rapist.’

Normally Spanish, as one of the Indo European languages, will follow the SVO (subject-verb-object) pattern in most sentences. But in Spanish, this is not a hard and fast rule as the subject can often be omitted entirely, if it is clear from the context. When a pronoun is involved, such as it, the order changes to SOV and the pronoun is tucked into the middle of the sentence.

5. Portuguese

“Change yourself, change your fortunes” – Portuguese proverb

If you already know French or Italian, Portuguese grammar has a similar structure so you have a definite advantage there. However, there are some problems about the placement of pronouns in a sentence and also the pronunciation of some nasalized vowels. Portuguese also tends to use the subjunctive a lot.

European Portuguese (EP) seems to cause more difficulty than Brazilian Portuguese (BP) because the former is considered more academic. The differences have been compared to British and American English. Learning vocabulary is  easier because of the many English/Portuguese cognates from its shared Latin roots.

 

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Learning another language to enhance your CV and help to change your future is a no brainer. Do you have any language learning experiences to share? Tell us about them in the comments below.

 

Featured photo credit: The LEAF Project via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on July 18, 2019

How to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills For a Swift Career Switch

How to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills For a Swift Career Switch

Most people grow up with dreams to go to college and graduate with high-paying job offers waiting for them the week after graduation. Others may favor non-traditional career paths. But the desire is the same: to find a job we love where compensation is commensurate with experience.

However, plans change. For instance, what started out as a dream to be a surgeon is cut short by a nasty injury and you’re debating how to transition into a new role. Or you might be facing being let go from your current employer and are anxious about “options out there.”

Whatever the case may be, switching careers can be intentional or unintentional. What matters is that you’re well-prepared, and the only way to do so is to learn new skills — hone in on your transferable skills.

Why Hone in on Your Transferable Skills?

There are several reasons you need to develop these skills if you want to go far in life and your career. In a nutshell, honing in your your transferable skills can lead to:

Better Job Offers

Continuous assessment and improvement of your skills widens the pool of job offers for you to make selections from. You’re no longer tethered to one industry as you’re able to lead your career by design, not by default.

People with transferable skills on a resume also open up opportunities for more potential employers.

Increase in Pay and More Responsibilities

You’ve heard the saying “with great power come great responsibility.” In your case, transferable skills make you more marketable to employers which could lead to pay raises.

Although this isn’t an automatic process– you have to be proactive about what you want in the marketplace, there is a chance that these pay raises will come with change in titles and roles.

A Shot at Entrepreneurship

Yes, changing career paths also includes the possibility of working for yourself. With these skills and work experience, you could live anywhere in the world and design a life and career you want.

We’ve talked about why you need to strengthen your transferable skills but what are some these skills, and how can you work on them?

13 Tips to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills

1. Update Your Resume

You might be surprised to know this but yes, updating your resume is a skill. The very first thing you should do while thinking about switching careers is to highlight attributes that make you very desirable candidate to employers.

Think about your volunteer experiences, freelance projects, and school projects. Although they might seem insignificant, they demonstrate your ability to deliver results that several companies are looking for.

While you might have held several positions since college, switching careers will require you to have a different type of resume.

There are three different types of resumes: functional, chronological, and a combination resume. However, if you are looking to switch careers you’ll want to have a functional resume. A functional resume is strengths-based that emphasizes skills that are transferable rather than a collection of dates and job titles.

2. Brush up on Your Communication Skills

Every attempt to get ahead in business and in life starts with the need to communicate effectively. Whether it is interpersonal, intercultural, or multi-generational, the ability to be seen and heard while respecting the boundaries of work relationship matters.

That’s why it’s one of the top skills you need to master. Strong communication skills allows you to effectively tailor your messages to specific audiences, which will make you a stronger asset to any organization.

To hone this skill:

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Pay attention to your listening skills. To communicate effectively, you need to first learn how to understand others.

Your ability to decode overt and implied messages, no matter how nuanced they are, is key to knowing how to foster deep relationships with others.

This article can also give you effective ways to enhance your communication skills:

How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home

3. Learn Technical (or Business) Writing

Another form of communication, writing, is a skill that can take you anywhere.

Companies communicate a lot through written memos, emails, newsletters, and other audio-visual means. But at the crux of this all is someone or some people who are tasked with translating the organization’s vision into statements anyone can understand.

To hone this skill:

Consider taking some free or paid classes online. You can accomplish this through several community colleges or online platforms like Lynda, Udemy or edX .

4. Practice Public Speaking and Presentation Skills

No matter how intelligent you are, no one will take you seriously if you’re unable to pull off a decent level of persuasion through presentation skills.

Most presentation can be done through either electronic devices or require your physical presence. Your chosen career may require you to be in front of several hundreds of people or you could be charged with developing materials for presentation.

To hone this skill:

Volunteer to lead projects that give you some responsibility for putting together presentations.

Also, try taking courses that will improve your public speaking skills if you feel lacking.

These tips on public speaking would be helpful too:

The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

5. Get Comfortable with Identifying Problems and Solutions

Every organization has got its problems no matter how greener the grass is on the other side.

How to hone this skill:

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Practice being resourceful.

Do you know where to find every company policy on the intranet in less than five minutes?

Think about a time you noticed some inefficiency at work and proposed a solution. Think about instances where you lent your voice to a cause which resulted in improved processes for your department.

No matter how small or inadequate you might feel, you’ve got some problem-solving skills that some organizations want.

If you look for more ways to improve your problem solving skills, take a look at this article:

6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills

6. Recognize Your Team-Building Ability

Your ability to smoothly switch careers also depends on how well you can energize your team, especially if you’re aiming for a leadership role. Unfortunately, team-building usually isn’t something you learn on the job in most careers unless you hold a managerial position.

The good thing is that you possibly know one or two things about team-building. Think back to moments in college when you had group projects with colleagues and had to work with 3 to 4 other strangers for months. Were you able to get past your differences and disagreements to focus on the uniqueness of everyone at the table?

Making a career switch might require that you work with multidisciplinary teams whether you have a deep knowledge of what the other team does or not. I can easily think of doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and social workers working closely to achieve the goals in a patient’s care plan.

How to hone this skill:

Look for collaborative projects and team building activities that excite you and challenge yourself with new possibilities.

Try some of these tactics to keep your team motivated as well:

17 Proven Tactics for Motivating Employees and Building a Stronger Team

7. Lean into Your Leadership Skills

Although similar to the previous point, leadership skills extend far beyond building teams, managing time sheets and correcting behavior.

What I’m referring to here is your ability to develop a vision, believe in it, and inspire buy-in from everyone involved. This isn’t about knowing how to run a particular machine; it’s about how to lead a team of people with various backgrounds, experiences, and ideas of how things should be done.

How to hone this skill:

Although more complex than the rest, it all starts with an introspective look into your strengths and weaknesses. Then get a mentor or a coach who can bring out your leadership qualities so you can operate from a place of strength.

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Learn more about the effective leadership types here:

5 Types of Leadership that Help You Build a High Performance Team

8. Improve Your Analytical Skills

Are you good at taking large amount of data and interpreting them? Your skills could come in handy.

Organizations are looking for people to make sense of the data around them, explain how it affects profitability, and make projections based on it. Best of all? You don’t need to be an accountant to be analytical.

How to hone this skill:

Try taking data interpretation classes online or at a community college. Learning Microsoft Excel or Access is also a plus. If you’re ambitious enough, you could consider getting additional certifications to up the ante.

Take a look at these ways to help sharpen your analytical skills:

What Are Analytical Skills and How to Strengthen Them For Success

9. Don’t Discount Your Time Management and Prioritization Skills

How good are you when it comes to deciding how important tasks are, organizing schedules, and coordinating plans?

Should you be willing, there is a market waiting for you out there. Organizations and busy executives are always looking for talented individuals to outsource these tasks to.

How to hone this skill:

Although not everyone possesses secretarial superpowers, you can improve this skill by focusing on taking huge tasks and breaking them into smaller goals or steps in order to achieve a bigger goal.

Here, you can learn to prioritize to achieve more:

The Ultimate Guide to Prioritizing Your Work And Life

10. Embrace Your Creative and Critical Thinking Side

Although it’s often believed that creativity is for the arts and right-brained people, I believe everyone is capable of being creative. In fact, most organizations recognize creativity as a vehicle that will drive successful inventions in the future.

How to hone this skill:

Try doing something fun. As simple as this sounds, you’d be surprised to learn how much. In fact, behavioral and learning scientist, Marily Oppezzo, says taking a walk might be all you need to get your creative juices flowing.[1]

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Anyone can be creative, you just need the right way to train your brain:

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

11. Don’t Stop Learning Tech Knowledge and Skills

Being tech-savvy is a huge plus. If you have an affinity with computers, software applications and are abreast of technological improvements, it is a transferable skill that is worth highlighting.

You don’t have to be a young college graduate with silicon valley dreams to work

How to hone this skill:

All you need is the determination and the readiness to learn. This article will give you some ideas on the types of skills to learn:

How to Improve Your Computer Skills to Get Ahead in Your Career

12. Build Networks and Relationships

You aren’t free from networking. Not at the moment. With your goal to switch to a different career, your networking skills will come in handy.

Fortunately for you, networking doesn’t have to be so hard.

How to hone this skill:

Attend conferences and job fairs. Chances are you already have people in your network you can move you closer to your dream career.

To enhance your networking skills, take these steps:

How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life

Final Thoughts

Although there are several people with the same qualification and degree(s) you possess, what ultimately determines hireability comes down to a myriad of things such as culture fit, how teachable you are, cultural sensitivity, inter-generational awareness, and your ability to navigate uncertainty.

You have a chance to stand out by letting your dream companies know how these soft skills make you an invaluable asset, and how saying ‘YES’ to you is a win-win for both parties.

Happy career switching!

More Resources About Career Advancement

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

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