By Arianna Carlson, B.A. International Studies student & OCPD Office Support Team Member, and Jamie Polliard, OCPD Internship Program & Office Manager
Another skill we consistenly see being in demand from employers in International Affairs – the ability to speak different languages. Language skills can be a significant competitive advantage that sets you apart from your peers. They are among the top eight skills required of all occupations—no matter your sector or skill level—and the demand for bilingual professionals is rising exponentially. In fact, between 2010 and 2015, the number of U.S. job postings specifically geared toward bilingual candidates more than doubled as reported in the New American Economy March 2017 report.
Language skills enable communication across barriers and can provide a more holistic understanding of the world ~ being able to communicate with someone in their language is an incredible gift. It will open up the world, enrich your travel experience, and deepen connections to new communities and cultures.
Learning a foreign language has also been demonstrated to improve memory capabilities. People who speak more than one language have been found to have improved memory, problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, enhanced concentration, ability to multitask, and better listening skills. Being able to speak at least one other language has also been found to help stave off mental aging and decline as you age.
Whether you are picking up a new language, refreshing your knowledge or working on fluency, here are some resources that can support your learning and make language acquisition fun. Most are free or provide low cost options or subscriptions to enhance your learning.
- Duolingo: (https://www.duolingo.com/) Duolingo offers a language learning platform in dozens of languages. Through daily gamified language practices, you can gain familiarity with key vocab, conversational dialogue, and speaking. In addition, placement tests offer a more personalized experience with the platform, ensuring even those familiar with the language can fine tune their skills.
- Rosetta Stone: Accessible through the DU Library, Rosetta Stone offers a more hands-on and immersive approach to language learning. In addition, their software enables you to focus on developing an accent through your practices.
- Loecsen: (https://www.loecsen.com/en) Loecsen is another language learning platform, offering courses in over 40 different languages. The platform promises quick returns for anyone traveling abroad or seeking to gain familiarity in a language in little time.
- LearnALanguage: (https://www.learnalanguage.com/) LearnALanguage offers a platform for language-learners to engage with a language through games and activities in addition to more traditional lessons. Incorporating a cultural component, learning a language can transport you around the world, helping learners gain a more well rounded perspective.
- BBC Languages: (http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/other/quickfix/) If you’re looking to learn key phrases in a language before traveling, BBC Languages offers a quick way to pick up the fundamentals of a language. Providing translation from Spanish to Croatian, you’re sure to be able to pick up key phrases in any language needed.
- Open Culture: (https://www.openculture.com/freelanguagelessons) Open Culture offers connections to textbooks, audio lessons, and other resources for language learners. These materials enable driven learners to set their own learning objectives and work at their own pace.