Why Freelancers Should Learn a Second Language

One of the most obvious but very often forgotten tips on how to freelance successfully is to learn a new language. Knowing more than one language allows you to offer a kaleidoscope of services and also to have access to way more job offers and resources.

It’s easy as it sounds: if you know more than just your mother tongue, you’re at a much better advantage than those who only know their primary language and are not willing to learn a new one.

If you want to bring your freelancing career to a higher level, get better-paying clients and assignments, consider learning a new language.

Learning a new language can be overwhelming, but let me reassure you: you can learn it with proper planning.

You need to establish your goals, the time you want to spend on this, and treat it as a personal project: in this way, you’ll be able to enjoy learning a new language without feeling anxious.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR A FREELANCER TO LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE?

  • Advance your career: a second or even third language is a significant competitive advantage that sets you apart from your monolingual colleagues. A few years ago, MIT economist Albert Saiz calculated that there is a 2% salary premium for graduates who can speak a second language versus those who can’t. The salary boost varies by language.
  • Boost your confidence: knowing a new language helps in boosting confidence and in feeding your brain. If you know you can achieve something, you feel more prone to try new things, also professionally.
  • Help to develop your skills: if you are multilingual, you can read documents and everything in another language. If you’re looking for something, your horizons will open if you know more than one language.
  • Form cultural understanding: if you can communicate with a diverse community, you can become an essential resource for every company as a freelancer.
  • Connect to your clients on a different level: another language will help you in opening up new possibilities with your existing clients and with prospects increasing the possibilities of long-term business opportunities.

WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT LANGUAGES TO LEARN?

When you think about the new language(s) you would like to learn, you have to consider your interest in those languages but also how and if they’re required in the professional environment you work.

375 million people are native English speakers and 1.5 billion use it to some extent. It goes without saying that English is necessary and it’s omnipresent globally. It goes without saying that if you’re not an English mother tongue, knowing English can boost your career.  If you already speak English, you would almost be able to speak to half the world’s population!

But there are other languages that both English speakers and non-English speakers should learn to boost their careers.

MANDARIN CHINESE

982 million persons are native Chinese speakers, and 1.1 billion people know the Chinese Mandarin dialect. China’s economy is booming and people with the Chinese language are still rare: if you learn Mandarin Chinese you can become an attractive hire and you can become one of the most important people in a company, despite being a contractor or a freelancer.

SPANISH

Around 330 million are native Spanish speakers, but Spanish is spoken by more than 420 million people worldwide. Spanish speakers are a huge demographic for companies today if we think that the Latin American market now has a purchasing power of $1.5 trillion.

JAPANESE

Japan may not be a big country but it’s a powerful one. Around 127 million speak Japanese and knowing it opens up thousands of possibilities: Japanese is not that easy because of its writing and the alphabets but if you can manage to learn even just a bit of Japanese you will surely become an interesting person for your prospectives and your actual clients.

RUSSIAN

More than 150 million people speak Russian as their primary language and with the country opening, companies are now tapping into this market to convert. Russian is also the official language in 38 territories, this meaning you can really become a valuable asset if you speak Russian.

ARABIC

22 countries use Arabic as their primary language: it’s a very different language from every other one, but it’s also one of the most important languages on the planet. Arabian countries are gaining popularity, some of them are wealthy and open to international opportunities: knowing Arabic can make a lot for your career as a freelancer, and bring you to a new level… without leaving your home!

HINDI

India is one of the largest economies in the world and Hindi is used by 450 million users: even if Indian people also speak English, knowing Hindi allows you to work for companies interested in expanding their reach to India but also for Indian companies interested in expanding internationally.

FRENCH

French is widely spoken and it can also be declined into regional variations (e.g. Creole). The market is huge and the competition is stiff, but if you learn French because you can offer a specific freelancing service for a specific market or niche, this is the right thing to do.

GERMAN

Same as above, German is spoken by fewer people compared to French but companies are always on the lookout for people that speak the language and can offer services in German, also considering that the German economy is one of the most prosperous in Europe and in the World.

NORDIC LANGUAGES

Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Icelandic, Finnish are still less competitive and requested by companies: the reach is lower compared to the languages above, but if you manage to speak one of those languages you can become a good candidate for every company.

This list could go on and on, but take into consideration one simple rule:

Overall, less common languages are plain interesting and make you more competitive.

CONCLUSIONS

Learning a second, or a third, or even more language is essential to be competitive and offer your clients and your prospects one reason more to hire you.

Less common languages make you more competitive but you could also go for the most common languages if you have a clear idea of the ideal client you would like to reach out and the market you ‘re able to tackle.

Online learning is effective and fun: you only need to choose the best course for you based on your needs and your time, and start learning.

This article was originally published on FreelancingJournal.com