Personally, I can speak English fluently, and speak Chinese and Japanese professionally.
The reasons I like foreign languages are as follow:
1) Communication with foreign friends
2) Specialty at Work
3) Freelance opportunities such as interpretation and translation
Number one is for personal reason. It is fun and enjoyable to have conversations with foreign friends in a foreign language. It’s also fun to study and learn about the cultural background behind the language.
Pertaining to financial freedom, the meaning of foreign languages relates to number 2 and number 3. Number 3 is easy to understand, so I will talk about number 2.
Scott Galloway, a professor at New York University in the US, says the following in a YouTube video called Prof Galloway’s Career Advice.
“Develop not just one area of expertise, but two skills that don’t always naturally go together”
In other words, his advice is that do not become an expert in just one field, but become an expert who can connect multiple fields. For example, an artist who can use Excel well.
This is because, in the future, talented people who can build expertise in these various fields can differentiate themselves from others who only know one field.
By the way, there is also a YouTube video called The Algebra of Happiness on the same channel. You can really get a lot of insights about happiness.
Among the skills in the various areas mentioned in the video above, the biggest area of strength for me is foreign languages. I have liked Chinese characters since I was a child, and naturally, I learned to speak Chinese and Japanese fluently.
I have been working a number of different consulting companies, but my fluency in foreign languages was quite handy, as I’ve worked on projects that require Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.
What does this all mean in relation to financial freedom? Equipped with languages other people do not speak, I become not easily replaceable, which adds job security.
In other words, a foreign language is a great weapon in terms of job stability in a company. And job security means stable labor income in achieving financial freedom.
To give another example, many Koreans working in Hong Kong and Singapore finance are in charge of the Korean market. Since I am a Korean, it is natural to take on the Korean market, but this comes with a high risk. What if a crisis strikes and the Korean financial market or economy suddenly deteriorates? If so, there is a very high probability that you will become unemployed overnight.
However, if you are in charge of various markets such as China, Southeast Asia, Korea, and Japan, you will not be adversely affected by the deterioration of the Korean market.
Learning a language comes with a caveat, in that it takes a really long time to develop fluency. If you think about input (time and effort) vs output (result), investing in learning languages may not be the best choice.
If you are a job seeker who needs to get a job right away within a few months, starting to study a foreign language may not make much sense. In particular, if the job does not require a lot of foreign languages, then it may be better to put in efforts in learning other valuable skills. You may not need a foreign language to get a job right away, but after joining the company, foreign language can be a great tool.
If you are good at a foreign language, you reduce the risk of relying on a specific market and you have an opportunity to differentiate yourself from others. And I think a foreign language is such a great weapon in doing so.
I will try to write about a foreign language topic again next time.
Korean article can be found here.
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