Learning A New Language? Here Are Some Great Opportunities For Multilinguals!
We take for granted the fact that we Filipinos are usually multilingual, and we have a natural affinity to adapt to a new language more so than other cultures. Imagine if you come from Cebu, you pretty much are versed in three languages: Cebuano, English, and Filipino. And that’s not as common in other countries.
Usually, because we’ve been trained to learn more than one language growing up, it’s almost second instinct for us to learn a new language. I know many people who put minimum effort and could learn a language in a jiffy! I, myself, have spent some time learning Nihongo. I’m quite sure I would get pretty good if only I put more than the 10 minutes that I already spend on it every day.
So if you enjoy learning new languages as much as—or even more than—I do, there are several career opportunities that you can actually try to explore. And since not a lot of people are investing time and effort to learn more than their native tongue, you’ll actually have a one-up than in other fields where almost everyone is qualified—and they’re pretty rewarding when it comes to salary, too!
A translator, obviously, translates text from one language to another. But while it sounds pretty straightforward, a lot of translators have their niche. There are legal translators, medical translators, military defense translators, because translating text usually requires knowledge not just of the language but of the field as well. Imagine trying to translate a scientific research about some new string theory application with zero science knowledge. It’s not that simple, dear.
This is why exploring an opportunity as a translator goes way beyond high language ability. You must also be a very good writer in your own language (if you’re translating text from your second, third, or even fourth language), and have a working knowledge of the field.
If you think translating is hard, try translating on the spot. This is why interpreters get three hat-tips from me. Imagine having to deal with people who can be really quick talkers or those with a colloquial accent or manner of speaking—that would need some serious skill. Much like translating, interpreters need at least some level of knowledge if they’re interpreting for a specific kind of conversation. Imagine the succinctness that must come with interpreting for a lawyer or a doctor.
Working as an interpreter can be a very rewarding career choice, especially if you’re a fan of traveling, since it can open opportunities for you to accompany people on trips when they need an interpreter to interact with other nationalities.
If you’re confident enough about your skills, then maybe you can start transitioning from being a language student to teaching the language. While people would always look for native speakers when they want to learn a particular language, there’s actually specific merits to really good non-native speakers since they are able to articulate or explain better to a student how to understand a certain concept or syntax—because they’ve gone through the same thing! So if you’ve mastered your second language well enough, you could consider guiding younger learners to overcome the same paths and struggles you’ve overcome.
This is another great career if you’re looking to travel around to teach the language. Imagine if you’re fluent in English and Chinese, you can easily bring over your services to many Western countries who would kill to learn how to speak the language of their Chinese investors or business colleagues.
A linguist job at the military
This is one of the more specialized and prestigious jobs for multilinguals and language enthusiasts out there. Multilingual author Donovan Nagel, who has worked many jobs in the linguist field, shares his experience when he applied for a job as a Signal’s Operator Linguist in the Australian Defence Force, where the government pays you to learn different languages. How neat is that?
“I found the testing to be a great indicator of how well you’ll pick up a new language under pressure in an intensive training period (we were a group of about 30 being tested and only 4 of us made it through),” Nagel shares. “Obviously the great perk in taking a job like this is that government is paying you a lot of money to learn and use languages and this pay scale increases for the languages you know. The downside of course is that you learn what they want you to learn.”