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Recession: Why Hard Financial Times Can be the Best Time To Learn A Second Language

written by: Rebecca Scudder•edited by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch•updated: 11/5/2010

A recession does not have to be a crisis; it can be a time to slow down, learn something new . . . like a second language.

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    Learning a Second Language to Improve Your Job Skills

    The ability to speak a second language can help you and or your business stay ahead of the competition, should you need to find a new or second job in times of financial stress.

    In a multi-cultural world where employees are increasingly using language skills as a tiebreaker at job interviews, perspective employers often perceive employees who exhibit the ability to learn a second language as possessing highly valued employment characteristics. In addition, meeting the challenge of mastering fluency in a foreign language is not only a personal achievement that can lift your spirits through hard financial times, but it is a positive way of preparing yourself for the next financial boom.

    In the event of a lay-off from your job, in addition to actively looking for reemployment, spending the extra time to learn a language displays great initiative, in the same way that returning to school to learn will help explain gaps in your resume, as well as position you for future employment and career opportunities.

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    Making the Best Of A Recessionary Period

    Volunteering for community efforts and programs during tough economic times is not only a wonderful way to help others in need, but it will keep you active professionally and potentially offer you the opportunity to interact and network with people who speak the language you have chosen to study.

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    How Long Does A Normal Recession Last?

    Historically, past U.S. recessions have lasted anywhere between 8-16 months.

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    How Long Does It Take To Learn A Foreign Language?

    According to The FSI (Foreign Service Institute) Language Rating Scale, if you are a language learner of average ability, and you undertake an "easy" language (see FSI groupings below), it will probably take you about 240 hours to get to the first level of mastery in speaking it, and double that to get to Level 2.

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    Which Are the "Easy" and "Hard" Languages?

    Again, according to the FSI (Foreign Service Institute)

    Group 1: French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish, Swahili

    Group 2: Bulgarian, Burmese, Greek, Hindi, Persian, Urdu

    Group 3: Amharic, Cambodian, Czech, Finnish, Hebrew, Hungarian, Lao, Polish, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Thai, Turkish, Vietnamese

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    Is Learning A Second Language Affordable?

    With the affordability and convenience of on-line education classes, learning a second language does not have to cost a lot. Learning a second language from home, or any other convenient location, can eliminate travel hassles and expenses normally incurred in attending campus-based classrooms.