Given the bilingual nature of the city that we live in, many of our students come to us to learn English or French out of absolute necessity, either because their job or their application for residency requires it.
While many Montrealers would agree that it's useful to speak both French and English, there are a great many other people who manage to move through work and life in Montreal using only one language, and these individuals may feel they’ve “lucked out” by not having to scramble to study a new one.
On the contrary, we think the many students working towards varying levels of fluency in a second (or third or fourth or fifth) language are the truly lucky ones; not only will their multilingual abilities help them in their current careers, but it will be to their benefit in any future jobs as well—regardless of where they find themselves in the world. Here are six reasons why those who speak both French and English have the advantage in the local career market:
As the impact of globalization on today’s business world grows, so too does the likelihood that companies—especially large ones—will need to communicate with clients or partner companies who don’t share a native language—Montreal-based companies, for example, that operate in French but want to expand into the American market. The more languages a company’s employees can communicate in, the greater the number of potential clients, customers and associates available to that company.
There are many great jobs for monolinguals in Montreal, but it's the bilinguals who truly have their pick of available positions. The ability to speak both French and English opens up possibilities throughout the rest of the country and beyond; the world is big, and the more of its languages you speak, the more places you can work.
People who speak French and English tend to make more money throughout Canada, but especially in Montreal, where allophones—people whose first language is neither English nor French—who speak both languages earn 60 per cent more than those who don't. Bachelor-degree-holding francophones who speak both French and English, meanwhile, make an average of $72,406 annually, compared to $59,328 for those who do not.
A previous E-QIP blog post looked at all of the mental benefits that can be gained from speaking multiple languages, including improved memory, decision making and memorization; and who wouldn’t want an employee with those skills?
Most job markets are quite competitive (especially in these difficult pandemic days), and your language proficiency could be the one thing that distinguishes you from the sea of other candidates with similar CVs. That's not only true in Canada; in the US, demand for multilingual employees recently doubled over a five-year period.
Okay, so it’s clear that multilingualism offers a clear advantage in the job hunt, but isn’t it too late for you if you’re only now—as an adult—starting your language learning journey? Absolutely not! While conventional wisdom has it that fluency isn’t possible for adult language learners, that’s simply not true; sure, you probably won’t ever achieve the perfect proficiency of a native speaker, but for how many non-native speakers of your own mother tongue is that also the case? Fluency is defined as “the ability to speak or write a language easily, well, and quickly”—it’s not perfection, and it’s certainly achievable at any age!