How Learning English Influences the Career Path of a Student
Learning a new language, in general, can provide numerous benefits to the learner. For students of the English language, many opportunities will open up that can positively affect their career trajectory. These benefits may range from better education, communication, job opportunities, and cognitive skills.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Courtney P. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Firstly, learning English provides students the ability to study in the English language, including going to English speaking schools and universities. This can make the difference between attending a sub-par university and a highly accredited university. This may include opportunities to go to a better school/university within the same country, or alternatively, to study in a native-English speaking country. Additionally, some students may even be able to attend universities in other non-native English speaking countries, where graduate degree programs are only offered in English. Furthermore, for career paths such as in science, English is usually the working language, so many books and scientific articles that the student will utilize are written only in English. Learning English gives the student an advantage to read and understand these materials, without needing time, resources, and energy to translate documents.
Secondly, learning English opens a wide range of opportunities for students to communicate with more people in their career field. They can develop professional relationships with international colleagues, as many people speak English as a common language for communication, while each person may have a different native language. The student may have more chances to collaborate with people with specific expertise in their career path as well. Furthermore, given the fast pace of globalization, learning English provides students more opportunities to apply for grants/scholarships, which may only be awarded to English speakers. Additionally, giving presentations and/or writing reports in English may be a key part of a student’s career field. Knowing English would be essential for completing these and/or the opportunity to list completed presentations and reports on the student’s CV may also help the student appear more qualified for future job positions.
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Furthermore, learning English offers students the possibility to apply for jobs in their career fields that require the English language. With the influx of qualified people in the world, applying for jobs in a chosen career field can be highly competitive. Knowing English may give a student’s application an ‘edge’, or maybe the factor between offering the student or another applicant the job position. Having the ability to speak English may also provide the student with a higher-paying position or the same position he/she had, but with a higher salary. This may especially be the case in specific professions, such as tourism, science, and financing, where knowing English would allow the student to communicate with a wider range of customers, collaborators, and employees.
Lastly, learning English as a second language may alter the brain structure of the student, providing numerous benefits. Being bilingual has been reported to increase attention span, organizational skills (Bialystok, Craik, and Luk, 2008), and adaptability (personal experience). Skills such as those can help an English language student either get a better job in their career path or further succeed in their current career. Additionally, cognitive functions, including attention span are less likely to decline at the same rate as monolingual speakers (Bialystok, Craik, and Luk, 2008), providing some English students a further benefit that may allow them to succeed in a career path even later in life. While the cognitive benefits for speaking two languages may not only apply to English language students, it can be an added career benefit for those already learning English as a second language, and/or considering to learn English.
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In conclusion, learning English as a non-native language can positively influence the trajectory of a student’s career path. While students may not always consider or be aware of all the benefits of learning English as a second language, the benefits will appear throughout their lives as they move up their career ladder.
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