It has been well documented that Hispanics in the United States who were bilingual earned nearly $7,000 per year more than their English-only counterparts and the increased earnings really add up over the years! And, in a 2010 Canadian study, bilingual francophones earned more if they actually spoke English on the job, up to an additional $139 for every $1,000 of base pay. Even if the francophone knows English, but doesn't use it at work, he/she makes an additional $70 per $1,000 base pay. However, the study concluded that the gains from language reflected the needs of the marketplace.
Upon that note, Gabrielle Hogan-Brun (an authoress from England who also speaks French) published "Linguanomics: What is the Market Potential of Multilingualism?" (September 2017). It is well-researched information that covers the "economic aspects of languages today," and answers, "Is learning another language worth it?'
A large body of studies "find robust evidence that a language barrier reduces trade." More than three decades ago Willy Brandt, a German statesman, imparted to the world buyer's and seller's markets, "If I'm selling to you, I speak your language. If I'm buying, dann mussen sie Deutsch sprechen" [then you must speak German]. This is germane to all activity concerned with the supply and distribution of commodities and services since the 1980s beginning of the new and distinct form of economic globalization affecting us all today.
Op-eds, academic journal reviews and research, new surveys, etcetera are ever presenting and supersede obsolete facts and stats, and thus, modify opinions. Despite intrinsic value, "many American economists, academics, and increasingly U.S. college students now believe that learning foreign languages does not even yield any economic value (i.e. a higher paycheck)."
A Silicon Valley think tank (Singularity University) predicts that technology will replace learning foreign languages. Their belief is that a "universal translator similar to a mathematical calculator" will be the performing implement in time to come and therefore make learning a foreign language unnecessary [Wiggers: Int'l Linguistics Research, Vol. 1, No. 1; 2018]. Actually, it is already here on varied functional levels ― Birgus Portable & Text, Aspiring Instant, GRC Real Time, Roful Learning, Iflytek Easy Trans, MUAMA Enence, Pulomi, Mesay, and dozens of other portable instant voice translators mostly requiring only Wi-Fi or hotspot internet. Whatever the pros and cons may be, Wiggers writes that fluency in a foreign language is first and foremost seen as a commodity, "i.e. as an economic gain, either to lift one's own economic situation or to boost the profit of a business or corporation."
Sought-after intelligence information that is most sensitive, e.g. international organized crime, terrorism, defense security, and other national interests and needs "is now found among the less common (and hence less well-studied) languages, as well as embedded within dialects and local nuances and inflections" (Quicios 2018). Thus, therein lies the economic value of dozens of foreign languages, for governments are recruiting their citizens and paying them well for their competency and proficiency in critical foreign languages.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, there are 60 critical foreign languages that will enable one to work for the U.S. government and Korean is one of them. Too, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, among the principal Asian languages, demand will likely remain strong for interpreters and translators of Korean, projecting this to grow 18 percent by 2026.
The author (email@example.com) teaches English and is a chemistry lab coordinator and Research Technician at Virginia State University.