The truth about language learning and job prospects

Today’s tech-savvy students have a world of resources and information at their finger tips. They balk at vague promises that language learning will get them better jobs. Today’s job market requires more than knowledge of another language. In the twenty-first century, a comprehensive essential skill set is needed for employment. This includes competence in areas beyond languages such as:

  • numeracy
  • thinking skills
  • computer use
  • the ability to work well with others

This isn’t just my opinion, by the way. These skills are recognized by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada as being essential skills for all adults. Not only are the skills needed in Canada, they’re needed in just about every other country, too.

Today’s young people understand that lifelong learning is going to be the norm for them. The idea that learning a second language is a ticket to a higher-level job or an international position is an outdated myth. Today knowledge of second or other languages is just one of the skills which may help an individual acquire meaningful employment.

Further reading on this topic:

Eaton, S. E. (2010). Formal, non-formal and informal education: The case of literacy, essential skills and language learning in Canada. Calgary. Retrieved from
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. (n.d.-a). Essential Skills.   Retrieved January 10, 2010, from
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. (n.d.-b). Understanding Essential Skills.   Retrieved November 20, 2009, from
Movement for Canadian Literacy. (2009). Ready or Not… Perspectives on literacy and essential skills in this economic downturn: A Canadian baseline study. Ottawa.
Murray, T. S. (2009). A breakthrough in our undestanding of the demand and supply of essential skills: Policy consequences for Alberta.


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2 Responses to The truth about language learning and job prospects

  1. Guus says:

    Interestingly I have recently written a comparable post. It’s not about getting extra “points” for speaking many languages, companies care about the total package you bring and what languages you speak is just a small part of that.

  2. QELA says:

    Great overview of the essential skills and how they’re relevant in today’s workplace! Thank you!

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