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Advancement in the workforce may be all in the language

By Mario Cywinski |

Finding a good job, advancing within it and building better workforce relationships may be as easy as speaking another language, according to a new poll.

Many Canadians who speak two or more languages believe that those additional language skills were a determining factor in their promotion (48 per cent) and subsequent wage increases (44 per cent).

In addition, being bilingual or multilingual has helped 77 per cent of Canadians with their relationships in the work environment. In turn, 72 per cent feel they have an increased amount of career options as a result, and 66 per cent think they have a wider variety of jobs in their chosen career.

"In our increasingly global society, speaking an additional language has never been more vital for a successful career trajectory," said Darryl Simsovic, President of Berlitz Canada, who commissioned the poll, which was conducted by Harris-Decima. "Language has become more of a 'hard' skill, truly a necessary expertise, comparable to leadership and management skills. And as we're seeing with this poll, Canadians who speak multiple languages enjoy numerous career benefits, including financial ones."

Looking at the other side of the coin, of those who only spoke one language, 38 per cent said it has decreased their career options. However, 70 per cent of those who did not know a second language said they would take lessons if they were subsidized.

In turn, 55 per cent of English-Canadians who were not bilingual said that French was the most important language for them to learn, while 88 per cent of French-Canadians said English was at the top of the list.

The other languages which drew attention by Canadians were Spanish, Mandarin and Cantonese.

"Given our proximity and close relationship with Mexico and the northern Latin American countries, Spanish will continue to be a critical "third" language for Canadians to master," added Simsovic.

On another note, it is interesting to look at the attitudes expressed by Canadians who are unilingual as compared to bilingual and multilingual, as seen in the table below.

Unilingual CanadiansMultilingual Canadians
More opportunities to travel47 per cent59 per cent
Love of language/personal improvement43 per cent62 per cent
Career opportunities/advancement34 per cent41 per cent
Better communication with friends or relatives22 per cent34 per cent
Are not inspired to learn another language20 per cent7 per cent
*SOURCE: Harris-Decima

"Overall, we've found that bilingual and multilingual Canadians are substantially more interested than their unilingual counterparts in learning another language, most likely because multilingual Canadians have already seen and reaped the tangible benefits," explained Simsovic.

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