The Benefits of a Second Language

By Gemma Creagh - Last update

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Do you want to improve your career prospects? Enhance your chances of being either promoted or headhunted? In this article, Claire McGovern speaks the lingo of learning a second language.

Learning a Second Language

One of the most effective way of moving rapidly up the career ladder in our global economy is to acquire European language skills.

There is an increasing demand from both Irish and European industries for employees with the ability to conduct their business in a European language other than English. So why not brush up on your language skills in a night class?

Better still, ask your employer to financially support a long-term distance training module that will ultimately make business in Ireland flourish.

Global opportunities

The acquisition of a second European language opens up a world of job possibilities in the industrial and public sectors, government agencies and of course the European Union. The growing internationalisation of economic activity, alongside advances in electronic media and telecommunications, is creating the urgent need for business language specialists.

You may be an expert in your chosen career, but with your company becoming more dependent on European and international markets, it is essential that you can communicate in a relevant foreign language. The completion of the integration of the European market will further increase the requirement from Irish industry for linguistically qualified staff.

Given the necessity of internet communication, businesses need staff who can work in a ‘virtual’ foreign environment in which customers do not need to be aware that they are communicating with a service representative in a different country. Thus staff require a high level of oral and aural competencies across a range of registers, as well as a high degree of cultural empathy and an awareness of quality issues and new business opportunities.

It is important to note that the focus in terms of language skills is not just confined to accuracy in oral and written skills, but rather embraces a wide range of subjects of cultural and intellectual interest.

What to do about it?

A wide array of courses are available online, nationwide, ranging from adult night classes in local community, comprehensive and vocational schools to part and full-time courses in specialist language centres.

All the main universities in Cork, Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Belfast offer a variety of language course options. Don’t forget the distance learning approach, which is a very popular route for people in full-time employment.

Remember: doing business in an international environment is not all about language. You also need understanding of different aspects of business culture, as well as the usual battery of skills like interpersonal communication.

By Claire McGovern

If you would like to find out more about the courses in your area, search the National Education database at

Gemma Creagh

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