Author: Angelique Celine Widjaja
Everyone most likely has heard about bitcoin – the pioneer cryptocurrency which has led quite a few people to hit a jackpot, leaving many people regret not ever laying their eyes on it. Well, we can say that English is an investment like that, I dare say, you would not want to miss for the world! It will never be too late to start learning the English language for your own benefit, and here’s why you should learn it.
English is a language we call by many names – the global language, an international language, the lingua franca, or even the world’s most spoken language. English started to spread across the globe due to the British Empire’s overwhelming geopolitical dominance back in the late 18th century. Even then, it had become the language of trade. Throughout the years, the influence of English started to spread beyond trade, engraving itself in the world of business and politics. At present, the English language has strengthened its root in the entertainment industry as well, through novels, comics, movies, TV series, and music.
According to the statistics published by Szmigiera in 2021, the total number of English speakers in the whole world number almost 1.35 billion, meaning about 1 in 6 people that you meet would know English to a certain extent . Especially in the face of globalization which allows people from opposite sides of the world to meet, the necessity of a common language has become more evident. Other than body language, English would be the first attempt someone would make to somehow communicate and connect with a foreign stranger.
I believe everyone lives with some sort of regret – no one would find every single moment of their life fully satisfying. One of the questions I’ve heard during someone’s episode is “Why didn’t I pay more attention to my English classes back then?” Perhaps during elementary school up until high school, a lot of people only studied English as it is a subject in school – never bothering to ponder about its importance. They study only enough to take tests, then forget it afterwards. This is a mistake not only one or two people would make, of course. They fail to see what kind of benefits learning English would reap if they were to give more efforts in the present.
Being in high school… spends a lot of money – and I’m not talking about our school fees, no, our parents are the ones stuck worrying about that! I meant hanging out with friends; going to Starbucks for some overpriced coffee, watching movies in cinemas instead of free illegal websites, you know, the usual high-schooler stuff! One of the ways I personally got some extra pocket money is by participating in competitions. English competitions usually vary by quite a lot – from storytelling, newscasting, debate, I’ve even joined an English test competition before! During competition preparations, we may find something we never knew we were good at or gain a new hobby or interest. For example, I know that some people have gotten a passion for political and social issues after learning about them through debate competitions. Perhaps some eventually find joy in acting after entering storytelling competitions, who knows? Doing something you love for some extra pocket money truly sounds like a dream, no?
Speaking of dreams, what’s that on your bucket list I spy? Did you perhaps write “A trip to Paris?”, or maybe… “A trip to New York?” Whichever country it is, I know full well many people has at least one country they want to visit if they ever had the resources to. Well, as of now, there are so many leagues and organizations who offer exchange programs to high school students. These exchange programs typically require an English language skill certification, such as IELTS or TOEFL. Of course, without knowing any English, how could we try to communicate with our international counterparts? Learning English opens opportunities for you to experience something you’d never experience in an otherwise mundane high school life.
By the time we reach high school, many people are likely to have figured out what they want to do in the future. They will try as hard as they could to get a head start on their peers as well. Some universities are so popular and are set as the dreams of many students. But not all students know exactly where they’d go after high school, let alone, an idea of their general career path. Learning English is a good way of keeping more choices open. Not only does it allow us to think of careers related to language as the main skill – such as a translator or a career in the hospitality industry – It also allows us to shoot for what remains beyond the distance our eyes can see. This is because most universities would require an English certification test at the very least if we were to apply from outside of their country.
Despite only being one step away after high school, university is nothing near the typical high school system, where we only need to listen to what the teachers tell us and study those things for our tests. University is where we need to explore on our own – often having to find reference books on our own, even having to resort to journals and the like. However, these sources may not always be available in our native language. It is knowledge after all, and people would want it to be shared as much as possible – meaning they would usually be found in one language that has been approved: English.
Job-hunting may be one of the most stressful things a person will have to go through once they’ve graduated from the comfort of university. Unless you graduated top of your class from an acclaimed University, with track records of being active in 3 organizations, did 12 volunteer work in a year, and won 18 prizes, maybe you’d have try your luck in multiple places. Of course, I was only exaggerating – but it is true that for many people, they’d have to apply for 5-10 jobs each day when they start out job hunting (Clark, n.d.)  By the time they have finally landed a job, the average person would have gone through 200 application procedures for various spots, sometimes even reaching 400. Of course, competition for even one job vacancy is already very fierce – with a 100:1 competition being the common default.
Being fluent in two or more languages opens a window to a variety of job opportunities, usually in marketing, administration, tourism, public relations, and banking just to name a few. Be it to apply to local companies or to international companies, the options offered will be exponentially more diverse compared to monolinguals.
For more examples of jobs that you can land with foreign language skills, you can check out this video! “What Job Can I do With Foreign Language Skills?” by Langfocus. https://youtu.be/os2K6pilr7k
There are various qualities that give a hand in landing someone a job they want, these usually include creativity, leadership, experience, initiative, multi-tasking skills, the list could go on. In Indonesia, a survey titled “Kecakapan Berbahasa Inggris dan Posisi Indonesia dalam Tenaga Kerja Global”, which roughly translates to “English Proficiency and Indonesia’s Position in the Global Labor Force Index”, revealed that a total of 96% of professional HR teams in numerous Indonesian companies consider English to be an important skill that must be mastered. So, it is clear that being fluent in English will give you an edge against your competitors.
Even now, English classes dedicated for employees and adults in general are openly endorsed, English First being one of the courses which provide classes for them. But, it is general knowledge that learning languages is easier for younger people, so why start late when we have all the time now? Learning English may be a bit challenging, but it will surely give you sweet results after all your effort!
Angelique Celine Widjaja
SMAK Plus PENABUR Cirebon
- Clark, B., n.d. How Many Jobs Should I Apply For?. [online] Career Sidekick. Available at: <https://careersidekick.com/how-many-job-applications/> [Accessed 1 October 2021].
- Szmigiera, M., 2021. Most spoken languages in the world | Statista. [online] Statista. Available at: <https://www.statista.com/statistics/266808/the-most-spoken-languages-worldwide/> [Accessed 1 October 2021].
- Video: “What Job Can I do With Foreign Language Skills?” by Langfocus. https://youtu.be/os2K6pilr7k