Public service employees have a lot on their plates throughout their workday. From serving the public to helping citizens gain access to public services to working with diverse populations, these professionals are constantly multi-tasking and juggling multiple responsibilities. But as much as public service employees may already be doing for their fellow citizens, many lack an important skill that would give them more benefits than they could ever imagine—learning a second language! Not only does learning a second language help deepen cultural empathy and open employment opportunities, but it has also been shown to support physical and mental health in older adults and reduce socioeconomic disparities. There’s no time like now to start learning a new language; here are five great reasons why public service employees should consider doing so today.
Foreign Language Learning Is Good for Your Brain
Typically, bilingual speakers’ brains have a heightened ability to adapt to new situations and faster processing speeds than monolingual speakers have. This does not mean that being bilingual makes you smarter or more capable of performing cognitively demanding tasks—it just means that the human brain has a high degree of plasticity, allowing it to adapt and change throughout one’s life based on their experiences and activities. Since second-language learners are constantly switching between languages, they typically build up better mental flexibility and stronger problem-solving skills, memory retention abilities, and attentional control than those who know a single language.
Second Language Learning Boosts the Economy
There are now more than 20 countries where knowing two languages that are required for citizenship, which means they must conduct a second language evaluation to their citizens. Consequently, there has been a massive uptick in demand for skilled second-language speakers across all industries and sectors, including education, business, media/entertainment, technology, international development, law enforcement/military operations, health care services—the list goes on! The good news is that language knowledge can be taught to anyone at any time, given enough effort and dedication. Public service employees have every reason to learn another language through established programs like those offered by community colleges or universities with instructional language programs.
Second-Language Learning Helps Mitigate Socioeconomic Disparities
Several studies have shown that the benefits of bilingualism and multilingualism can be felt by those who already have higher education and less formal schooling. In fact, as proficiency in a second language increases, the likelihood of being positively impacted by improved literacy, academic achievement, and socioeconomic status increases. On a broader scale, learning a second language reduces ignorance and ignorance-based conflict—a wonderful outcome for our present global circumstances!
Learning A New Language Can Help You Do Your Job Better
To serve diverse populations, public service employees need to communicate clearly and effectively with their constituents—that is just one of many reasons they should learn another language. Conveniently, there are many online resources available through public libraries and other institutions that provide language learning and translation services, as well as work-at-home opportunities for those who require flexible schedules. Employees should also check with their supervisors to see if they can be reimbursed for the cost of language courses, whether at a local community college or university or an online course such as those offered by Rosetta Stone or Living Language.
Public service employees can greatly benefit from learning a second language, and the five benefits mentioned above are only a small portion of what they can get out of it. It is not an easy task, but the challenges one encounters when learning a new language will become more motivated, persistent, and hardworking.