Boost Your Career – Learn a Second Language


by Melany Hallam

Question: Y a-t-il des services d’emploi suffisant pour vous dans votre langue?

(Are there sufficient employment services available in your language?)

Yes / No / Somewhat

February is often the time of year that Canadians are thinking of taking a much-needed break from winter by flying off to a warm country—preferably with a beach. I’ve traveled to Mexico many times and have always found that knowing some Spanish can be helpful, both in practical ways and in getting a better feel for the country and its people. Similarly, knowing another language can be of great benefit to you at work.

You may think that the benefits of a second language would never apply to you, living and working here in Powell River. But think about it a bit more and you may be surprised at what you discover. For example, what if:

  • the main market for your product is outside of Canada, such as prawn sales to Japan?
  • your kayak touring business gets a large number of clients from Germany or Holland over the summer?
  • the educational institution you work for hosts students from Korea or China each semester, and the school would like to do more student recruitment with its own staff instead of relying on agents?
  • you work with Kathaumixw or the Pacific Region International Summer Music Academy and would like to promote even greater international participation?

Powell River isn’t isolated from the international community—far from it. There are lots of ways that speaking a language other than English or French can boost your career or your business, such as:

  1. If there are a large number of applicants for a sales or marketing job, all with similar qualifications, knowing another language can make you unique and thus more hire-able.
  2. If your employer (or your business) deals with clients, vendors or colleagues who speak another language—even if they also speak English—speaking to them in their own language can make for a more comfortable and confident business relationship. This can make your employer or business more competitive internationally.
  3. If your goal is to work in another country, global companies based here in Canada are more likely to send you abroad if you speak the language.
  4. I’ve also seen research that suggests that speaking a second language can improve business skills such as multi-tasking, creative problem-solving and decision-making abilities.


I’m not fluent in any other languages, but I do know some French and Spanish. I’ve travelled to Japan and Greece knowing absolutely nothing of the language at all—not even the alphabet. These experiences have left me with a great appreciation and respect for people who have successfully immigrated to Canada knowing no English or French. I can only imagine the difficulty they’ve experienced in finding work here—and the benefit to them of knowing even a little bit of English. For a Powell Riverite wanting to work abroad, a person could learn a lot (language-wise) from the experience of people relocating here from another country.

To get you started on learning another language, here are some resources and tips to help you right now:


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