Network Your Way to Better Language Skills and a Better Life

This post is a guest article from Tim Wenger, and I was bowled over by his motivating and positive attitudes about networking. We often hear how this can benefit people in their career, but have you ever thought to use your network by mentioning languages in the same way? Tim has some awesome tips here.

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Language Show Live: What's New In Language Learning?

Last weekend I made my way down to Southern England to hang out with Lindsay and visit the Language Show Live in big London. Lindsay and I visited the big exhibition and ran into a whole bunch of other language bloggers, friends and people from the language learning world. If you couldn't make it, here are my impressions of the show.

language showlive

What is it?

The Language Show Live is Britain's biggest language-focused event, a sort of trade show about all things language with talks and taster sessions mixed in. It's held at the Olympia in London (such a stunning venue!).

Who was there?

language show live recap

The first stand I headed to was one entitled Welsh for Adults (exciting!), where I met a few wonderful people from Aberystwyth and Bangor who introduced me to the Learn Cymraeg app. At this stand, we learnt that the word “penguin” in English actually comes from Welsh (pen means “head” and “gwyn” means white).

Stand-out stands (hah!) for adult learners were our friends at Flashsticks and HelloTalk, along with Bien-Dire whose magazine I’ve reviewed here on the blog.

We got to take a close-up look at Linguisticator’s absolutely beautiful language maps, printed on light fabric and displaying an entire language’s grammar, essential vocab and rules. They’re a great thing to behold, so good-looking in fact that Lindsay was excited and wanted to put one up over her sofa. You can buy these from their online shop - the German map is here.

And my highlight of the exhibition was the discovery of Babel and Lingo Magazines. These magazines are not about language learning and other languages, they’re about linguistics. It’s my favourite academic topic, and I have never seen such a fantastic approach to writing about linguistics for a non-academic audience. In other words: This is a flipping interesting magazine!

Careers in Languages

The walk around the recruitment section is motivating and surprising each year. I met representatives of BAE Systems, SC Johnson, the British Army and the European Union. They all have standing vacancies for language graduates and represented the careers that are open to you very well. There was even a CV clinic so you could have your CV polished to perfection to get all those multilingual vacancies.

The Language Show Website has more information and a full list of all exhibitors for you.

Meet-Up!

Only one place to go after all that: THE PUB! Lindsay and I got ready for our little language learners’ meet-up. We were joined by Sionaid from Perfect English Grammar, Angelika from Angelika's German (get to know all about Angelika on Podcast Ep 15), Gareth from How to Get Fluent and Emma the Incidental Langauge Learner. It’s a great pleasure to be able to meet the people I see through Twitter all year long and I really hope that you can make it too next year.

At one point during our meet-up, one of England’s happiest families bounded through the door, greeting us all with lots of joy. They were Lingotastic, a UK-based company working on teaching languages to parents who have very young children. What a joyful bunch, check them out!

More For Adult Learners

Sadly, the neglected bunch were the group of adult language learners in the UK. There are a few courses that look really interesting, but most of them require a lot of travel, either to London or to in-country classes. It was very obvious that Welsh really stands out here as a government-backed initiative with affordable courses and universities offering free apps. Good on them!

If adult courses aren’t so popular anymore, then online study is proving the solution to our problems - are language classes dying for adult learners? What do you think?

In Conclusion

The Language Show Live was a great event as ever. I always love seeing the many products and new ideas out there. Creativity is definitely not dead in language learning and I saw some amazing products to put on my Christmas list. And as an online tutor, it's so awesome to see all the products out there for the classroom and for groups of kids.

The language diversity wasn't as big as last year, when compulsory languages had just been introduced in primary schools. This event was mostly aimed at the everyday language teaching world in schools, and the language diversity reflected that. Lots of Spanish and French, some Chinese, surprisingly little German, and a tiny but visible presence for Russian, Welsh, BSL, and Arabic.

Were you there?

Did you come to London this time? Have you been to the Language Show before? I'd love to hear what you enjoyed the most and which talks you attended.

Next year, the exhibition is coming up to Scotland for the first time.

Tips for the Bilingual Job Hunt from Jobcoconut

I'm excited about today's guest post for you guys. If you've listened to my podcast with Peter Rodway, you know that I am completely convinced that languages are your way into the most beautiful careers. Today we'll be hearing from the team over at Jobcoconut, a global jobs site offering amazing appointments all over Europe. These tips are about how to show off your language skills to make sure you walk into that job you want.

No TPS Reports required in YOUR amazing career, kid! (img ©office space movie)

No TPS Reports required in YOUR amazing career, kid! (img ©office space movie)

Over to the Coconuts:

So if you are based outside your home country and you are fluent in more than one language, then you’re more likely to land a top language job as HR departments and recruiters are always seeking job seekers with language skills.

In particular, if you speak a hard to source language such as the Nordic, Scandinavian or Eastern European languages then you will be in high demand, which means you can easily land yourself a well-paid job in top European cities. Language jobs across all European countries also seek Spanish, Italian, German and Dutch speakers. So the opportunity is there for all bilingual job seekers.

Studies carried out by the recruitment companies clearly show that candidates who speak two languages earn a lot more than non-bilingual speakers. Another advantage for having language skills is it can allow you to form a vital part of a company’s growth strategy. Whether it’s trying to enter new markets on a national level or expand to other countries, having a second language makes you a valuable part of any organisation.

But wait…

Are you actually bilingual?

The term “bilingual” has had a few different definitions over time, and this is one we can all agree on: Bilinguals “can communicate just as easily in one language as you can in the other”. Your language proficiency should be measured in terms of your speaking, reading, writing and listening abilities in each language.

Many people exaggerate on their CV about their level of proficiency in a language. It is important that you are entirely confortable in a business environment using both languages. There's no cheating: Bilingualism not only demands a command of the structure of the language but an understanding of the other language’s nuances such as its sense of humour.

How can you prove that you’re bilingual to an employer?

The best way to prove it is during the interview. If bilingual language skills are important the employer/recruiter will communicate to you in both languages. They will be able to tell straight away if your language skills are right for the position. This is common amongst recruiters as they require assurances they have got the person for the job.

What should you put in your CV?

If you want to promote your language skills on your CV (and you so do!), the most important thing is to be honest about your level of knowledge and comfort in both languages. This will save you and the recruiter embarrassment and time, otherwise you will have to explain why your language skills aren’t up to standard. Imagine you end up in the job and have to give a presentation or write a report to important clients. Your language skills should handle that easily.

Handle terms like “bilingual” or “fluent” or even language scales such as the Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR) with care. Judge your language skills in terms of your confidence in working using that language. Here is a handy framework (see below), but we encourage you to put your own stamp on it by coming up with your own self-evaluation of your language skills!

• Limited working proficiency – able to satisfy routine social demands and able to handle limited work requirements but would need help in handling complicated tasks

• Professional working proficiency – can discuss a variety of topics with ease and almost complete understanding of what others are saying

• Full professional proficiency – can participate in all manners of conversations with ease and only rarely make grammatical mistakes

• Native proficiency – native speaker/ mother tongue.

Develop Your Skills

Language skills are one of those things that employers cannot develop in 90 days, so they are excited to find you as a candidate. Or if you're looking for a total linguist job

By the way - I want to help you guys with your language careers. Soon I'll be posting an exciting summary of all my jobs on my mailing list, but before that why not participate in my 50 Calls Project to talk about languages at work?

Thanks for reading this article on Fluent - The Language Learning Blog. Don't forget - if you sign up to our newsletter, you will receive a free Guide to the Best Language Learning Resources!

Why a languages graduate is your next great job candidate

Languages are used in every sector of the UK economy, and in the public and voluntary sectors as well as in private enterprise.
— British Academy

Here in the UK, Higher Education has become increasingly focused on the "employability" aspects of a degree. It's really a worldwide trend, and subjects like languages suffer as students turn to "Business Studies" to make sure they get a job afterwards. Having spent the last five years advising prospective students on their choice of study, let me fly the flag for the quirky subject choice. Here is what I think you should know before interviewing a languages graduate.

    They add value

    You only need English to buy a beer in Spain, but that won't do for business. In fact, the British Academy has found strong evidence of what they call a growing language deficit in the UK. We're in a big recession and business must look for the money, so if it's abroad, your best route in is with a few experts.

    They aren't sheep

    According to HESA, only 5.4% of all UK students take a language so unless you happen to hire a graduate who's a native speaker of another language you will have someone who is used to thinking as an individual and going against trends. And those are great attributes.

    They are trained communicators

    Today's Modern Languages degrees do more. Students are taken out of the classroom, present bilingual reports, produce accurate language in lab sessions and discuss what's going on in another country's news. Getting straight on the phone to your overseas agents should be a tried and tested experience for them.

    They are independent

    Language degrees in most countries contain a compulsory stay at a host university or a host enterprise in the target language country. What this means for an employer is that a candidate who has spent considerable time living and coping abroad. They are likely to be self-motivated, reliable and able to adapt to new situations.

    They are ahead of others

    Language graduates have gone through 3-4 years of intensive training in many aspects of their chosen language, and it's not something that can be learnt on the job. I've often heard that most practical skills can be taught to a new employee within a few months, but becoming fluent in a new language? Not likely. Well, unless you are Benny Lewis I guess.

    Alex France (on  Flickr )

    Alex France (on Flickr)

    Disclaimer

    Dear parents and recruiters. I am in no way implying that all of us languages graduates are all of the above. Just hoping.

    Today's post was inspired by this interesting group blog I have come across recently. It's called Kanzilingua, apparently named after a an ape who's able to communicate in English. The blog features over 30 contributors, most of which are drawn from the UK's Modern Languages student community. Kanzilingua is worth a visit this month as they've declared March their careers month.

    *Cultural note: The UK university system will require students to focus in on their major from year 1 of their degree. No declaring halfway through a sophomore year here!