Hopefully, if you’re managing to read this, you have a pretty good command of English, but these days, employers just love to see a second language on your CV too – and imagine all the opportunities to work abroad that could magically open up if you can say more than “excusez-moi, ou est le toilette?”. We’ve investigated which languages UK employers currently regard as the biggest assets to your CV – and you might be surprised by the results…
It might not sound all that pretty, but learning to, er, spreche ze Deutsch, will look gorgeous on your CV. That’s because Germany is one of the only countries in Europe to defy all that economic misery, and is also the biggest export market for British goods other than the US. Although most Germans, particularly those in trendy cities like Berlin, speak awesome English, it can’t do any harm to impress them by getting your tongue around eight different types of sausage.
Most of us picked up at least a bit of French at school, but it might be time for a refresher course since 49% of UK employers regard it as useful for their business, especially in light of the amazing transport links we now have with France. And, bien sur, there’s the bonus factor of decent French making you sound incredibly sexy and sophisticated.
If you ever fancy working in the US, speaking good Spanish is a huge advantage given the dealings you’re likely to have with Latin American customers, clients and countries. But in the UK it’s regarded as attractive to employers too – 37% of managers rated it as useful, and they didn’t all work at La Tasca.
Given how big and powerful China is, it’s unsurprising that their most commonly-spoken language features on this list – and it’s likely to rise even higher in the next few years. Anyone with big ambitions in technology, finance or retail would do well to take the plunge. Currently, very few schools teach it (Brighton College was the first to make it compulsory a few years back) but in time, it could be as common as French on the school syllabus.
Since there are now an enormous number of Polish workers in the UK, a basic grasp of the lingo could work wonders for anyone thinking of going into teaching, hospitality or construction. Poland is also the only EU country to avoid recession since the start of the economic downturn so those in business and finance would do well to swot up too.
Rankings based on a 2012 CBI Education & Skills survey in which 542 UK managers were asked which languages were useful to their business.
So, you’ve picked your language… now what?
These days, you don’t have to go to an evening class in a freezing cold community centre to learn a new language – there are plenty of more modern and enjoyable ways. And you don’t even have to get out of bed for some of them…
Join an online community
In an ideal world, you could afford to jet off to Argentina and spend six months chatting with the locals, but if you’re strapped for time or money, consider joining a site like www.livemocha.com, an online community where you can work with experts in 38 different languages via video or text, either one on one or in group classes.
Let a computer teach you
Rosetta Stone is the best known and most popular language learning software for anyone starting from scratch with a new language. Watch out though, as it’s also pretty expensive. Bung it on your Christmas list and send your parents a thank you postcard when you’re an international media mogul.
Get on Skype
Don’t just use Skype to show your mum your new coat – join a language site too. www.themixxer.com helps people find language partners to chat to via Skype. And hey, they might think your new coat is tres jolie too.
Use your phone
Naturally, there are now oodles of phone and tablet apps for those wanting to learn new languages. Mindsnacks, Babbel, iStart… there really are loads, but the range of languages and pricing varies. It’s also a good – and potentially cheap - accessory to learning in a more traditional environment.
Leave the house
Yes, we know it’s a struggle to leave the sofa when you’ve got all these apps and stuff, but in the outside world there are real people speaking everywhere, and some of them are foreign - who knew? Classroom-based learning is so 20th century, though – instead, pick up some new lingo in the sexier setting of a foreign film club or gourmet cooking class.