The previous post – Leveraging your Languages in the Workplace – was all about adding value to your current job, but if your current working situation doesn’t require a knowledge of your foreign language or doesn’t offer any scope in which to use it, this second aspect of Leveraging your Languages may be a way forward:
This type of leveraging is all about Leveraging your language skills to develop a “parallel career” in your chosen foreign language.
The type of “parallel career” meant here is a career in the very loose sense of the word. In reality, it will be a succession of professional or professionally-related activities involving languages, which runs alongside your day job.
Not only will Leveraging your parallel language career make it less likely that you will lose your ability in a foreign language if your day job doesn’t require it, but it will also give you the chance to gain experience in using your language in professional contexts and become familiar with the terminology of business and the workplace.
Maintaining a “track-record” of language-related activities and positions in your “parallel language career” will also make you more confident about taking up new professional opportunities that DO require your language and you will be in a better position to re-integrate your language into your mainstream career at some point in the future.
Continuity is what this type of Leveraging your parallel language career is all about. The activities need not be inter-related or take place at the same time.
Launching your “parallel language career” is simply a case of STARTING SOMEWHERE and taking on activities that will “stretch” your knowledge of your language and give you opportunities to keep using it.
So here is a list of things you could do to Leverage your Language as part of your “parallel language career”:
- Join a professional social network – LinkedIn, Viadeo or Xing – and actively engage with it.
- On your chosen network, seek out Groups related to your area of work or interest from the country concerned. Respond to posts on the group or make your own posts in the language. “Follow” companies or individuals in your target language country that post interesting content.
- Create a profile on your professional social network in the target language – LinkedIn includes the option to have profiles in more than one language.
- Use the social network to make professional contacts in your target-language country and message them in the language.
- Research – actively research a topic relating to your target-language country that has fascinated you. Use websites and sources in the foreign language and actively collate the information in a Word or PowerPoint file. PowerPoint can be more flexible, as you can paste pictures and snippets of text and move them around much more easily.
- Take an online course that is delivered in the language. MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are offered by a large number of universities worldwide and are free of charge. Many are available via portals such as Coursera or FutureLearn. Courses are available in English, but also in French, Spanish, German, Dutch and other languages besides. The good thing here is that you can combine using your language and taking a course that may benefit you professionally.
- Join an on-line forum in the foreign language about a topic that interests you and make regular contributions in the language. Try to develop your prominence and play a more active or leading role as time goes on.
- Join a MeetUp group or similar for speakers of your target language. Most larger cities or cities of business importance in the UK will have such groups.
- Start a blog or a website – nothing beats having an online presence – it serves as your calling card and demonstrates to future employers that you are engaged in and committed to a topic and extending and sharing knowledge. The blog could be on a topic relating to your target-language country, and some or all of the posts could be IN the language of that country or could include extracts or references in the foreign language with commentary in English. This could be a follow-on from your “Research” activities referred to above. Setting up a blog or website doesn’t have to cost anything – you can use “free of charge” services such as wix.com, www.weebly.com (websites) or www.wordpress.com or www.blogspot.com (blogs).
- Find out if any colleagues in your company or organisation are native-speakers of your target language. Get to know them and if they are willing, meet up with them regularly for lunch or coffee as a way of practising the language.
- Team up with a friend or colleague from your target language country and commit to having a long video call (using Skype or a similar app) as often as you like in your foreign language. Identify some of the professional or serious topics to discuss in advance and “tune in” to the language beforehand by watching relevant on-line news videos or YouTube videos in the language.
- Do some volunteer translation from the foreign language into your native language – organisations requiring volunteer translations can be found by searching on Google.
- Set aside some time each week or even every day for focused language-related activities and make sure that the language is always part of your weekly routine.
Your linguistic future starts now. Remember, it’s simply a case of starting somewhere and keeping going. Use it or lose it!