The following is a guest post.
A lot of people are finding themselves with a lot of unexpected time off--and many of you are likely practicing “social distancing” (whether by choice or not).
Is there something both productive and rewarding you can do during this global pandemic? What if you were able to take this crisis and turn it into an opportunity to not only prepare for the impending economic downturn but earn more money?
Growing up in a bilingual or even a multilingual household is a nice benefit, but is not enough to help you along any of the more lucrative career paths available in the world today. Having grown up in a bilingual or multilingual household may be more than enough to get a job with a translation agency or even as a freelance translator, but there are better options when on the hunt for a long-term career.
In order to maximize the benefit of learning two or more languages, it is imperative to attain a native-like level of speech. It is also beneficial to study and learn about the idiosyncrasies of the language, including common discourse markers, localized idioms, vernacular and colloquialisms and any other quirks particular to the language being learned.
For those who have not grown up in such a multilingual environment, it can prove to be beneficial, as they will then have the option of selecting languages that are know and understand to their desired career path. In such cases, it is important to know and understand the best languages to learn and which ones will be most valuable to you as an individual.
Determine which language to learn should be an individual choice. Factors that may come into consideration are knowing something about the languages, the benefits they bestow upon the speakers of that language, and the potential career choices in any field of interest related to the studies and skills of the individual. Randomly selecting just any language would not only be foolish--but could potentially even become a very expensive error in terms of career benefits.
Language translation is always one possible career choice, but it should not be the only consideration when determining which language is best to learn. Figuring out which foreign language is easiest to learn should also not be a deciding factor. In order to decide which language to learn, it is crucial to look at the career paths associated with each language.
English is perhaps the most common language that people seek to learn. It is a premier language in business and industry around the world and an official language in more than sixty nations. However, since you’re currently reading this particular article, which is written in English, one might presume that you already speak English. Thus, the information here will focus on languages other than English which may be viable for someone seeking an actual career path.
It is important to remember that while there are more than one billion Chinese people, not all of them speak Mandarin or as it is more commonly referred to, Putonghua (“the people’s tongue” or “the common tongue”) is the most common language in China (properly known as the People’s Republic of China) and Taiwan (properly known as the Republic of China). In Hong Kong where the “real money” business reigns supreme, Cantonese is the most common language.
There are also variations and different dialects of both Mandarin and Cantonese. Mandarin may be a better choice for people interested in career paths in professional translation services, teaching English in foreign countries or for careers within the massive industrial complex of China. For jobs in financial services and other related industries, it may be better to consider the benefits of learning Cantonese rather than the more traditional Putonghua.
There are over four hundred million people who speak Hindi as their native language. While India is more well known for exporting manpower rather than importing it, there are still many job opportunities available in India. These include jobs for those who may want to find a good job in India or others who are more interested in being able to work and earn spending money while they travel around the globe.
It is largely expected that foreigners in India will learn Hindi at least sufficiently well to be able to eat and to get around, and to conduct basic business operations. There are some cases where big tech companies will even relocate to India in order to save on the cost of operations and taxes. In these cases, any and all foreign personnel should at least have a basic grasp of the primary language of India. Among the most common jobs for foreigners in India are translation jobs.
The document translations are often related to tech software, sometimes requiring coding skills and basic compiling skills on top of the language skills. Some of these jobs involve legal translation services, often translating complex and occasionally convoluted contracts and business agreements. Translating from Hindi to English, from Hindi to Chinese and even translating from English to Hindi are jobs not uncommonly held by foreigners.
Long term career choices are mostly limited to large tech companies and their executive personnel. However, there are exceptions including jobs in “High Finance” and banking. There is also a burgeoning industrial growth industry in India that employs a vast number of foreign workers, some in career positions.
French is occasionally (and only half-jokingly) known as the language of lovers and liars. While it is famous as being the language of lovers, the rest perhaps stems from the fact that French is very common to the Diplomatic Corps from nations around the globe. However, no one here is making any claims about politicians being known for lying--as we all know, they are connected to the government and are here to help.
One of the primary languages of the United Nations is French, with many meetings and much of the documentation first recorded in French, and then, translated into additional languages. French is also a native or official tongue in many different nations, including such diverse locations as Guinea Conakry, Cameroon and Nigeria, Belgium, parts of Switzerland and even on the island nation of Vanuatu.
Careers in French-speaking nations are about as wide and varied as they come, though they do revolve heavily around professional translation and interpretation services within the international diplomatic corps. One often overlooked career choice is for anyone who has a sincere and deep interest in the realm of wine and cuisine. Not only is France famous for culinary arts and similar schools, but is also home to some of the most famous (and expensive) wineries in the world.
Both the Bordeaux and Burgundy regions of France are home to world-class vineyards and the literal fruits of their labors. For career choices in the tourism industry, food and beverage, or other career choices in hospitality, French should probably be one of the preferred choices in regards to selecting which language to learn first. If there is any real challenge to learning French, it is that it is spoken with unique qualities virtually everywhere it is spoken.
For anyone considering career choices in Spain or planning on moving to the United States or anywhere in the Americas, Spanish is an essential language of choice and necessity. The Spanish spoken in Spain and other locations in Europe is quite different than the Spanish spoken in the Americas, and such linguistic peculiarities and dialectic differences are certainly relevant, especially in jobs regarding professional translation services.
Translating from Spanish to English or translating from English to Spanish is going to be different depending on where the translations are from and where they are going to when complete. Document translations conducted for a Spanish corporation to be used in conjunction with a corporation in Britain will be decidedly different from those document translations for their Mexican and American counterparts. Just as the United States and Great Britain have numerous variations of English, so to do the different varieties of Spanish.
Mexican Spanish, as well as that spoken in Guatemala, El Salvador and down through to about Panama, are more staccato in nature than the Spanish in Spain or even that in the Caribbean or Central and South America. The rolling of the R in Mexican Spanish is also much more prevalent in verbal communications. Moving over into the Caribbean, the Spanish is much more nasal and almost more laid back when spoken. Moving South through the Americas, the Spanish blends casually into the Portuguese which is an entirely different language, though certainly with some similarities to Spanish.
Spanish is pretty much compulsive for virtually any career opportunities in the United States, including for foreigners moving to the nation. However, a solid command of the Spanish language will also open up careers in the hospitality industry throughout the Americas and in many European nations as well. If you want to find out more about how to select a language to learn based on your career choice, try this article here.
It is hard to imagine anyone exists who has not at one time or another asked themselves, “How do I get a Government job?” Government jobs are one of the best career choices in virtually any industry. The language skills necessary for government jobs are not any more complex or difficult than the language skills necessary for virtually any other career choice in most cases, though there are always exceptions. Still, one should seriously work on learning languages more efficiently and completely before considering some of the more complex professional translation careers.
Document translation services are common to government, as virtually any government would be lost without their loads of red tape and paperwork in triplicate. Voter registration forms, driver license exams and many other government documents are routinely required in multiple languages. While professional translation services may be used for many governments, State and Federal government agencies often have departments whose sole focus is translation and other matters of linguistic affairs.
Translators and interpreting jobs in government are also very common. Court translators and interpreters can demand a very high salary, but unless they can become a full time government employee, they cannot realistically expect to have a regular work schedule or government paycheck. Finding government translator jobs like these may require living in a large, multilingual city, or working at the State or National level of government.
For some people, the military is not the ideal career choice, but for others, it may be an incredible life experience. Language skills are very relevant to certain military fields, however, and these can often lead to substantially more lucrative government jobs. This is most commonly true in military intelligence jobs, including positions as an analyst, a translator or interpreter and in other similar intelligence work. These types of language-specific work are often precursors to someone wanting to learn how to earn more money with a government job.
The CIA offers individual sign-up bonuses up to thirty-five thousand US dollars for people who possess the necessary language skills for an agency job. For someone who has a proven history in related military fields, these government career choices in the field of linguistics are among the best career choices in the world.
In order to determine what is the best language to learn for a good career, it is necessary to look at what the preferred career choices are, and what the foreign markets are like. Is the desire to find a job in a foreign country? Is the desire to work in the home country but get along better with a multilingual community? Is the goal to find a work-from home career? Defining the career goals should be the first priority.
In some areas like the province of Quebec in Canada, learning both French and English is virtually a necessity in order to be considered for a job. In many locations along the Southern border in the United States, it is going to be necessary to be much more than just conversant in both Spanish and English. These considerations are also important, because even if not in the pursuit of a career, these language skills will be necessary just to integrate into the local community.
Virtually all of the best careers in the field of language will pay well enough so that the individual need not worry about how to earn more money online or off. Still, for those that are still in the early stages of their career, opportunities such as becoming a freelance translator or even a local court interpreter should not be dismissed. Some of these jobs can be conducted even around a “normal” work schedule and may even be jobs that pay top dollar for the number of hours worked.
It is also important to remember that linguistic career choices are not always about learning the most common languages being spoken. Being one of literally thousands or more people who speak the most common languages in any given area may or may not be an advantage. Being one of the few who speak a more restricted, but less widely covered language may offer even bigger and better career choices in some instances.
In parts of California, one could stop people on almost any random street corner and find people capable of translating from Spanish into English or translating from English into Spanish. What about courts that need someone to translate into more infrequently spoken languages however? Foreign interpreters are requested literally hundreds of times per day and certain speakers of the more common languages will be favored while others are routinely ignored.
However, being the only provider of professional translation and interpreter services in a more restricted language, or being the only certified translation specialist that the courts can call is going to ensure more work and a higher income in terms of wages earned.
Learning how to choose a language to learn for the best career, is going to require at least some research about the career choices being selected from. After that, there will be a need to look at the job potential for that career, projected growth and expansion of the industry in question and then, an understanding of what the person is looking for in terms of income and location. Once that information has been gathered together and analyzed, it will be easy to figure out how to select a language to learn for that career choice.
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About the Author: Ofer Tirosh is an Entrepreneur and the CEO of Tomedes, an international innovator in smart human translation services. He is also a professional speaker, offering audiences a unique insight into globalization through translation and language services.