How much does speaking a language pay?

20 August 2018
door Regina Coeli

There are loads of articles on how pleasant it is to speak multiple foreign languages, how good it is for your brain and how enriching it is for your life. But does knowledge of a foreign language literally enrich you as well? In other words, does speaking a foreign language have financial benefits?

Various studies have shown that, yes, this is the case. Exactly how much your language skills benefit you depends on how and where you use them. For example, François Grin, a researcher at the University of Geneva, has shown that knowledge of English in the German-speaking part of Switzerland will net you at least 18% extra in salary. In the French-speaking part of Switzerland, it tags ‘just’ 11% on to your pay.

English yields the best returns

Grin has also calculated that for Europeans, English yields the best returns. In financial terms, the effort you make to learn the language is recouped the fastest. Perhaps not surprisingly, French and German follow on the list of lucrative languages for Europeans. And according to his calculations, the value of Chinese on the labour market is increasing the fastest.

Chinese the ultimate asset

The rapid rise of Chinese has also been noted by the Catholic University of Leuven, which carried out similar research into the Belgian situation. Professor Luc Sels calls Chinese “the ultimate asset for your wages and your career”. If you master Chinese and have the right papers, you will earn 7.09% more, according to Leuven’s research.

Language trends in Dutch job vacancies

What about the Netherlands? Currently, no precise figures are available; however, various studies on the labour market have shown the following when it comes to job vacancies:

  • Besides Dutch, English is the clear number 1 in the list of languages required
  • The demand for German is increasing
  • Russian has risen the most as a desired language
  • The most requested language not spoken within the EU is Chinese
  • Vacancies in which specific language requirements are stated are mainly in Noord-Brabant, Noord-Holland and Zuid-Holland.
  • Specific language skills are required in particular for sales, technical and logistics

Better chance of finding the right job

If you want to take a step in your career soon, then brushing up on your language skills is not at all a bad idea. For example, we see that many people use their education budgets for language training following reorganisations. They are convinced that by speaking English or German well, for example, they will have a better chance of finding the right job.

Speaking a language professionally is another thing

The question then arises as to how well you should speak a foreign language if you want to progress professionally. There is a big difference between speaking a language and using it in a business environment. Perhaps you can have a long conversation in English with friends about all kinds of things, but if you have to give a presentation in English about a specific topic in a particular industry, your language skills may not be up to par. You can also prepare well for those kinds of things, although that last step is a lot easier if you already have a good basis in the language.

To come back to the first question in the article: speaking a language will not automatically make you rich, but it does have its benefits!

Get started!

Do you also want to improve your language skills? Regina Coeli’s trainers will be happy to help you. During an intensive training course, you quickly make big strides in a foreign language. If you already have solid skills in a language and you have noticed that you are still lacking in a few areas such as giving a presentation, negotiating or writing reports, you can often improve greatly simply by taking a short course. Please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss your options.

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