Language Learning is an Economic Investment

I try and stay mostly on the topic of the mechanics of language learning. However, there’s nothing that quite whets the appetite more than a little motivation. Add in a bit of fear-mongering, and you’ve got the basis for a great post on why language learning is an economic investment. That’s my aim of the day, today.

Economically, the English-Speaking world has had a monopoly on industrial and economic success for the past century or so. Before that, the British Empire controlled much of the economic output of the world as well. So English speakers have had, all told, several hundred years of unmatched prosperity. Consequently, there has been no need to learn a seperate language, short of a hobby or particular interest.

That will all change.

If not in a generation, in a couple of generations. The Internet has made economic power accessible to pretty much every country on the planet. Industrialisation of the BRICS countries has caused new economies to form.

We’re at a beautiful moment in history where there is one global language. If you are a native English speaker, you have an incredible advantage. You can work anywhere, and your language is an asset.

So Why is Learning Another Language an Economic Investment?

It’s a very short window though. Politics aside, we’re seeing the first stages of BRICS signing contracts with each other directly, forgoing the US dollar. In the future, this will become more common. China, which currently exports stuff (of all shapes and sizes) to the world, now has a size-able middle class. They will sell to themselves. Other new economies will follow suit once they get to a certain stage.

This isn’t to say that people are going to stop doing business with English speakers. Merely, that having the knowledge of a second language will be of greater benefit. Say you are a computer programmer, and you specialise in web development for wholesale food suppliers. Your native English currently means you can work in say, a hundred countries. (Warning, figures completely made up.) In the next fifty years, a third of those countries will stop doing business primarily in English. You’re down to 60 countries. But you might learn French, which will open you up to a new economic block. You’re up to over a hundred countries again. You can also do business with French Speaking businessmen in the 60 countries where you could work in the first place.

That’s a silly example just to highlight the point. Learning another language is an economic investment. It hedges against inflation (i.e. English becoming devalued) and is a positive return on investment (i.e. you spend a year learning a language, and thirty years making money from it.)

This is a great way to think of Language Learning as an economic investment, and motivate yourself to work hard at learning a new language.

Language Bug