How Much is Learning a Foreign Language Worth?

Financial bonus of learning German
The MIT economist Albert Saiz calculated that the average lifetime earnings bonus for an American college graduate who learns German is $128,000 (for French: $77K, for Spanish: $51K).

For the sake of provocation, let’s acknowledge that German is not exactly the easiest language to pick up. Can you imagine that if translating a sentence like “Tickets for eight adults to Munich for next Wednesday, please”, you only would have to say “Acht einfache Erwachsenen-Fahrkarten nach München für nächsten Mittwoch, bitte.” Could a request be more twisted? However, no reason to panic yet. Ask a German to say “Wombles of Wimbledon” and your ribs will be cracking. 

Learning any language is a challenge as well as an experience. The benefit almost always outweighs the risk and opens up loads of opportunities for the learner. Learning German particularly, increases ones options dramatically as one can acquire a wide range of skills that will boost the quality of work and personal life. German is the most widely spoken language in Europe, meaning that there are lots of people to talk to (about 120 million native speakers globally). Moreover, a significant number also learns German as a second language. In fact, a recent survey placed German as the most beneficial language for American graduates in terms of Return on Investment (ROI).

Germany is the world’s third strongest economy and the number one export nation in the world. Despite much of Europe facing an economic crisis, Germany’s economy has been on a steady rise (comparable to the economies of all Spanish-speaking countries combined). Germany has many international corporations like BMW, Bosch, DaimlerChrysler, Deutsche Post etc. with branches across the globe. Being able to speak German definitely places one on a competitive edge in terms of career and development goals. Moreover, Germans are inventors and innovators. That little rain sensor on the windshield of your car was invented by a German. Germany is in the front-line of new technologies as most of its sectors are tailored towards research and development.

Apparently, more than half of Japanese students learn German in their schools, and understandably so. Asians in general succeed greatly in foreign relations and in the business world, a fact that can be attributed to their knowledge of foreign languages. In that regard, they must find German so appealing and successful as a country if so many people learn the language.

Here are a few website resources to get you started.

Viel Erfolg!


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