The Need For Bilingual Employees In The U.S.


As the United States becomes more and more diverse, the need for bilingual employees becomes greater. According to the most recent US Census, it states that 40 percent of the people in California speak languages other than English at home. Spanish is most common (26 percent) followed distantly (2 percent or less) by Mandarin, Cantonese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Korean, Armenian, Japanese, German and Persian. Nationally, Hispanics comprise just over 11-percent of the US population and are expected to overtake African Americans as the nation’s largest minority group during the next decade. What does this mean for businesses? The change in demographic inevitably means the change in customers and sales strategies to these customers. When over 25% of the population in California speaks Spanish at home, the need for businesses to reflect that becomes a major factor in catering to their customers.

According to CareerBuilder:

The top industries for bilingual candidates include healthcare, financial services, social services, public services sales, marketing, and tourism.

As you can see from the industries mentioned above, they all involve heavy client interaction with the everyday people. Health care, social services, public services and tourism are areas where employees often frequent customers that may not speak, or speak very little English.

In many countries across the world, English is taught and learned in schools. As a customer centered business, would it be more hospitable if you had the able staff to communicate with these customers in their native language? Not only would the comfort level and trust increase, but so would the level of sales in comparison to a similar business with a language disconnect.

Hispanics constitute the fastest-growing segment of US society. As their numbers rise – along with their economic and political clout – Spanish is likely to be heard and spoken with even greater frequency in the years to come. Because of this, having bilingual skills is a definite plus for job candidates as more and more businesses in multicultural cities are reaching out to underserved segments of the population. One of the major necessities currently out there is the need for Spanish speaking employees. And, as the US Hispanic population grows, businesses need employees who can communicate both culturally and linguistically with this group.

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19 thoughts on “The Need For Bilingual Employees In The U.S.

  1. I speak perfect Korean and perfect English… I make some money on the side translating documents.

  2. Hi, I speak English, my native language is Spanish and I’m looking for a company to hire me! I would love someone could help me, to send my Resume! Thanks for reading this.

  3. I really think we in the US are behind the rest of the world on this issue. Sure English is the dominant language but that won’t be the case for long. As more and more business goes over seas, it’s going to be more and more of an advantage to speak other languages.

  4. Remember the movie Blade Runner? I think life imitates art and we will end up speaking some kind of jibberish made up of Amerikan, Spanish, Jive and Asian languages.
    They had a name for it in the movie, but I cannot remember it.

  5. I couldn’t do my job if I didn’t speak Spanish. It’s been that way my entire career. I live in St. George, Utah and speak Spanish at least 50% of the time. More when I lived in Salt Lake City. I’m in HR and have done property management.

  6. Speaking more than one language increases your market reach, it’s common sense. If your market speaks sanskrit, you better learn it if you want to get their rupees.
    The language you speak at home or with your friends is something personal, the one your buyers speak is the one that’s vital.
    The three languages more relevant at present are English, Castillian or Spanish, and “Chinese” (Yep, Im aware that there are many chinese languages, same thing with “italian”). But all in all, it depends on your particular target market.

  7. Maaan, the world is changing… US is becoming bi-lingual (finally, we Americans will speak something else besides redneck “twenks”)… Well, soon some people will refuse to speak English at all, and there will be Spanish and English states No, wait… it’s actually very sad… Why do everybody who immigrates to France learn how to speak French? Why do everybody who immigrates to Germany learn how to speak German?
    I wonder if my Portuguese and Russian will do anything good? I demand the products in the nearest mall will be in Portuguese and Russian only! Strike!
    Should I become a politician?
    Just rambling here… pass along…

      1. Speaking as an American, sadly, there are those who would love nothing more than to have their own non-U.S. language spoken as the main language, not to mention their culture to be the dominant one, or at the very least to have our own culture bend toward their’s.
        I agree with you that America seems to be the exception to the common sense rule that says, “speak the language of the country you’re in, not the other way around.”

        1. Another voice of reason. The answer is because they want to assimilate and blend in to their new country.

  8. My fiancee and I are currently living in Germany. We are planning on moving back to the U.S. and she would like to find a job that can utilize her skills as a linguist. She speaks and writes fluently in German, English, Italian, French and Russian. If any company can use her skills please send me an e-mail address where she can forward her resume. Thank you.

  9. In my observations of the world, there are too many countries where the people speak more than one common language, and the people are fighting each other all the time. One common(national) language brings the people more together. This would bring about the melting pot effect that our country ,The U.S.A., claims to have. In my opinion, the U.S.A. has not been a melting pot since the mid 1950’s. My dad is a Legal immigrant, and you could not tell which country (Sweden) he is from by his speech. He also will not fly the flag of the country of his birth, because he is now an American. My mother’s family, both sides , have been in this land since the very early 1600’s, so you see i grew up seeing both sides .

  10. Here is another point that is often overlooked. English is one of the easiest languages to learn.
    Anyone that speaks a romance language can pretty much pick up on other romance language.
    Why limit it to bilingual?

  11. “English is one of the easiest languages to learn.”
    You are so right, it’s simple. Even in mostly-spanish-speaking Puerto Rico, my kids learnt English before Spanish, and even today they’d rather speak English than Spanish between friends. They claim it’s faster!
    TV and media has a lot to do with it, the local spanish language channels aren’t worth a damn. Not even I watch them, and I’m a full blooded spaniard raised in Europe, not America.
    I agree that there must be a common, uniting language. But it shouldn’t be the only one. The more languages we learn, the bigger our sphere of influence.

  12. I’m an American. I’ve lived in Germany (2 years), Italy (4 years) and Japan (4 years). I’ve tried to learn the language of each temporary home — German, Italian, Japanese — but they’re all Greek to me. My linguistic learning abilites are lame. But I DID try.
    I was pleasantly surprised to discover that, in each of those countries, English was spoken well enough by the merchants I dealt with so that I didn’t have any problems. As a matter of fact, whenever I tried to practice their language, they insisted on practicing their English instead. (Hmmm… was it because I was mutilating their language, or were they eager to speak better English?)
    But I do recall going to a restaurant in Japan with a coworker who actually got upset at a Japanese waitress because her English wasn’t very good. “Don’t you understand English?!?” she yelled. Talk about “an ugly American.” I was shocked and embarrassed at this display of arrogance.
    Today I am living in California (but shockingly enough, don’t speak Spanish) and am married to the son of Chinese immigrants (he does speak Spanish). My mother-in-law has been in America for nearly 60 years. Yet she speaks very poor English and depends on her grown children to help her communicate.
    I do have a couple of points to this rambling…
    When living in foreign countries, I appreciated–but certainly did not expect–being able to communicate in my own language. The communication in English was with individuals who took it upon themselves to learn it because they did business with Americans… it had nothing to do with the government requiring any bi-lingual translations or anything of that sort.
    Point 1 – So I agree that it’s good business sense for merchants to be able to communicate in the language of their customers. But I don’t feel those customers should EXPECT it, and therefore not bother to even try learning the language of the country they live in.
    Next, because my mother-in-law chose to limit herself to a Chinese community after immigrating to America… going to Chinese stores, reading Chinese newspapers, watching Chinese TV, all available to her here… and because her husband DID learn English and work with Americans… she had no NEED to learn English, and so she did not. In her world, she never really left China, never adapted herself to her new country–a country she’s lived in for 60 years (she lived in China for 17 years). She is therefore basically unable to function independently in any non-Chinese community.
    Point 2 – I’m concerned that all the “reaching out to underserved communities” will make it that much easier for them to NOT learn English… which in turn may limit their desire and abilities to look for opportunities outside of their own communities and to get ahead in this country.
    Poor English on resumes and job applications is one of the major reasons employers toss them in the reject pile.

  13. Hi Bonnie! Glad to see you over here.
    “…reaching out to underserved communities will make it that much easier for them to NOT learn English”
    YES! That’s what the danger is, but unfortunately there are parts of society that believe to do otherwise is to be cold-hearted and un-neighborly. Very frustrating.
    That’s why I think it’s a bad idea to print handouts, brochures, bulletins, whatever, right down to the local churches and schools. They’re given no incentive to change. And why should they when they have their needs being met by people who are literally bending over backwards to not just acclimate them into our society, but dare I say, give them preferential treatment.
    Great comment, Bonnie!

  14. Douglas: Speaking different languages makes people fight? It seems you have never been to Switzerland. 3 (4) different languages and no one fights. Maybe they ignore each other, but don’t fight.
    I do speak 4 languages..sometimes altogethers, but unfortunately on the IT field that’s not important ;(

  15. Well, Spanish is easy to learn once you learn English. A lot of Spanish words are similar to English but with a sharper sound. I think this will help Spanish speakers, as in Hispanics who know English as well, gain higher positions in the job market.

  16. Hi there
    I came across a useful website and if anyone wants more information about jobs using your language skills you can try visiting Top Language Jobs – it has 20 internaitonal sites which covers language jobs in the USA and Europe.
    You can also use this website to see what kind of jobs using your language skills are available in the market and what kind of salaries they offer compared to only English speaking roles and what languages are most in demand.
    Best of luck with your job searches!

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