How speaking a foreign language could enhance your freelance career

freelance translator

I think we’d all agree that the benefits of learning a foreign language are well document – from improving your memory to boosting your confidence and even a sense of wellbeing.  But have you ever considered that speaking another language could enhance your freelance career?


Opportunities for travel

The most obvious benefit of speaking a second language is that it opens up more interesting work opportunities that might not otherwise have been available to you.

A globalised economy and interconnectedness are rapidly becoming the defining characteristics of our lives in the 21st century.  Many businesses operate in and trade with multiple countries, so the fact that you speak a second language could be considered a huge advantage to a potential client or employer, especially if it’s a language that will allow you to communicate with one of their existing demographics. It could lead to you being put forward for roles abroad or with the option of travel – great if you have older children away at University!


Change your career

If you’re thinking about changing your career, why not consider becoming a freelance translator? Learning a second language from scratch is not as difficult as you might think, and it’s a great way to increase your chances of being hired for other projects.

Aside from directly language-related jobs such as teaching and translating, there are plenty of other fascinating roles you can get into if you’re bilingual. Check out Benny Lewis’ blog, which is full of tried and tested tips on how to become fluent in another language – in just 3 months.


Become a more effective communicator

Strong written and verbal communication skills are a valuable asset in any career.  But what’s interesting is that studies have shown there are other advantages of learning a second language, such as becoming a much more effective communicator in your first language.  This is because learning a foreign language makes you more aware of the mechanics of language in general, such as grammar, sentence structure and the way words can be manipulated to create different meanings.


Stand out from other candidates

Even if knowing a second language isn’t directly relevant to the position you’re applying for, it’s a skill that will make your portfolio stand out from other candidates. Aside from the obvious advantage of being able to communicate with people you otherwise wouldn’t be able to, the fact that you speak a second language shows that you have the determination to learn something new and are committed enough to see it through beyond the lower skill levels.


How to get started

Obviously, the first step is to pick which language you want to learn.  You might want to continue with something you started at school, or you could do some research on which languages could lead to interesting career opportunities.  For example, if you’ve always wanted to work for a particular company, find out where they have international ties.

The next step is to choose your resources carefully.  There are plenty of available to help you – from online language learning programmes to night classes and audio books.

The key is to work at it little and often – just ten minutes a day will make a huge difference – and find ways to make it fun.  Check out this fun Guess The Movie’ challenge by Rosetta Stone.  See if you can recognise the famous film quotes that have been translated into another language.

Why not start watching some of your favourite films with subtitles on in a foreign language? You might be surprised by what you pick up!


Do you use a foreign language in your freelance career?  What tips would you add?


photo credit: Robert Scoble via photopin cc


I’m Mary Cummings, a ghostwriter, collaborator and all round word doctor. I help business owners write and publish business books; I'm also passionate about helping creative freelancers find work that they love - their work sweet spot with work on their terms, projects they love and clients who are a dream to work for.

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