The English language may only be the second largest spoken language in the world, having Chinese Mandarin at the top spot, but English is dubbed as the World's Universal Language. For this reason alone, we can already conclude that learning and speaking English is important. But in a competitive world where each of us is striving to grow a career of our own, is simply learning English enough? No, as professionals we have to develop fluency of the English language if we wish to be competitive, both locally and globally.
Now, some of you may still argue that speaking English fluency is not as important as it really is. Some of you would say that nothing beats hard work in a career. Well, yes. I agree that hard work will take you a long way. But if you're really hardworking, then you should also be willing to put speaking English fluency as one of the things that you should work hard for. It never hurts to gain another skill or to improve one that you already have. As I would always say, you could work hard but you should also work smart. And striving to be fluent in the English language is one way to work smart.
I have stumbled upon an online article from Excel English Institute which listed four famous personalities who recognized the advantages of speaking English fluency in the career path they want to pursue. Let me share them with you.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, one of the greatest Hollywood stars, was an Austrian-American. He was born in the state of Styria in Austria where he spent most of his younger years. He dreamt of moving to the United States since he was 10 years old but was only able to migrate when he was already 21 years old. By that time, he was pursuing his bodybuilding career yet he was troubled because he spoke little English. So he studied the English language from Santa Monica College. And because he became fluent, his career was not only limited to bodybuilding. It expanded to many fields like acting, directing, investing, business, philanthropy, and even politics. He served as the 38th Governor of California for 8 years. Can he have done Hollywood acting and politics if he didn’t speak fluent English? I highly doubt it.
If you are planning to establish a business, you may want to hear about Jack Ma’s story. Jack Ma is the Founder of China’s largest e-commerce site Alibaba and he is also one of the most sought-after motivational speakers today. At a young age of 12, he already recognized the importance of the speaking English language. English is a mandatory subject in Chinese schools but Jack Ma wanted to be fluent in it so he would visit a nearby hotel every day to meet foreign people and ask them to help him practice his English skills. In return, he would offer a free tour of the city. For eight years, he made this a routine then he went on to become an English teacher. His fluency brought him to Seattle in 1995 where he was hired as an interpreter and it was in this job that he was introduced to the internet, an event that changed his life. If Jack Ma did not strive to be fluent in speaking English, would he be able to fly overseas and learn new things that could propel his career? No, he won’t.
I bet you have already heard of the Pulitzer Prize before. It is the awards body that honors excellent journalism and arts within the United States. Well, its founder, Joseph Pulitzer, is actually not a Native American. He was Hungarian and he only migrated to America when he was 17. At that time, he knew how to fluently speak German and French but only a little English. He knew he had to do something about his lacking communication skills so while he was working odd jobs, he studied both English and Law. In no time, he became fluent in speaking English and he pursued both journalism and politics. Until in 1892, he offered his finances to Columbia University to set up the world's first school of journalism. The endeavor only materialized however after ten years. If Joseph Pulitzer did not become fluent in speaking English, would he be able to become a journalist in America and set up his own legacy? Hardly.
The last person featured in the article was Martin Van Buren, the eighth president of the United States and Founder of the Democratic Party. Though he was born an American citizen, he grew up in a Dutch-speaking community and they only spoke the language at home. But that did not stop him from learning the English language and pursuing law school. Had he not strived to learn the English language, will he be able to serve as a U.S. senator and later on become the U.S. President? Impossible.
What are the major takeaways in the lives of these prestigious people and how can they be applied to your own life? Let me list them for you.
- English fluency is an advantage.
Nowadays, as companies aim to go international, they are looking for globally competitive employees to join their team. So if it appears in your resume that you can speak fluent English on top of your native language, then employers would think that you have challenged yourself by learning a second language. They would appreciate a candidate that accepts challenges for self-improvement.
- English fluency presents you with a wider pool of opportunities.
We can clearly see this on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s journey. Initially, he only aimed to have an excellent bodybuilding career. But because he became fluent in English, his career choices expanded to acting, business, politics, and many more. The best part was, he didn’t have to choose. He ventured to all of these opportunities.
- English fluency brings you to places and lets you thrive there.
Jack Ma reached Seattle because he became fluent in English. The other personalities migrated to the United States with little to no knowledge of the English language but after being fluent in it, they thrived excellently. If you have good spoken English, your employer will consider you as capable of business trips abroad. In fact, he may even assign you there. Being fluent in English means you can find employment almost anywhere in the world!
Bottom line, speaking English fluently will give you a higher probability of landing a job, provides you with more job opportunities, and most of all, it can make you live a fuller and richer life. Of course, English fluency will not be all that you need but consider it as an effective tool for your career success