Is Learning A Foreign Language a Waste of Time in 2020?
Updated: Apr 29, 2020
The Bottom Line
Learning a foreign language can be great but the fact is the entire planet is learning English at an accelerated rate due to the wide availablitiy and affordability of internet capable handheld devices. Most of the content is on Youtube, which for the moment, is still the "go-to" for new, information, how-to videos and entertainment. The majority of the videos are in English and many non native speakers make significant efforts to speak and interact with their audience in English. It has the widest appeal and chance for growing a following. Now, is the time to pivot for native English speaking foreign language learners.
The shift from foreign language to computer language is very real and has already happened under our noses. If you were thinking of learning a foreign language and are interested in securing your future financially, get into learning at least one programming language that is widely used. If you are not sure where to start, I cover the top five programming languages to learn in 2020 in a previous article.
By learning a programming language you will have a place in either the hardware or software development fields. I know this and I'm not even a programmer by trade per se. I have been given the gift of intuition and can see through the cloudy mists of the future, the trends and where things are likely to go in 5, 10, 100 years, etc. That is what I am good at.
In fact, I have been thinking of writing on this topic in the hopes of helping anyone to save their time and money for the last 10 years and I found a great short article from back in 2012 that you could even skim the bullet points and understand why learning a foreign language is not useful if you are planning to use it for a career or financial gain down the road.
Why I'm an Authority on Language Learning
I learned two foreign languages in my life, Spanish in grade school and later Korean as part of a job and much more. I was adept at speaking Spanish in school and it may have been the only subject I was motivated to work hard at. Later, while learning Korean, I noticed my Korean vocabulary was replacing all that I had learned in Spanish for 8 years. Granted, I worked the hardest to learn Korean as it became a part of my daily life, but it was interesting to see how easy it was to lose the skills I had gained over almost a decade. I am confident that if I choose to work at regaining those vocabulary and speaking skills I could do it within a few months but I just have no interest nor any reason to do so that would benefit me.
Even after working in Korea for over 10 years and having a massive amount of experience with a small business running a successful language school and negotiating and contracting my services out to another franchise (in Korean) in a down economy over there, I came back to the U.S. and my prediction about my skills speaking and comprehending Korean and more importantly, being able to follow their cultural nuances and practices did not translate to anything at all.
The jobs which it would all required an active top secret clearance or required selling my soul and my bank account to the CIA or some other alphabet agency. I was making really good money and saw a perfect exit strategy which is personal and I will not talk about here. Most language jobs these days are purely translation related which DOES NOT PAY WELL. I also have an MBA. So, thanks, but no thanks.
What is worse, no matter how good I am I will always be last in a pick for new employees. Why is that? It's simple and terrifying. The absolute skewed push in America for "diversity" gives priority to anyone who may not even be a citizen or speak English on the level I can (business communication). I'm a white male, a handsome one at that. I'm more genuine than most people you will ever meet and not fake. However, in the job world that does not mean anything nor does it help you rank in terms of interviews or job offers. Any sensible business or government agency is going to pick a native speaking Korean over me any day of the week, hands down. It's not just Korean, it's any language. That's a horrific thing to think about. The bullshit liberal push and corporate sellout tactics in America (Apple, etc.) as well as the deliberate destruction of the economy over the decades has absolutely demolished the native English speaking American citizen's job opportunities not only locally but globally. You may not believe that and that's fine but go and try getting a job with decent pay like you would here, in another country. You will find that your job opportunities are extremely limited unless you enjoy factory jobs or farmwork. Hey, all this coffee and jasmine rice doesn't pick itself.
The Good News
The truth is, the foreign language job market isn't that only one that has been swallowed up by native speaking foreigners, it is pretty much any industry. It's really bad, just look at the manufacturing industry. I could even point out how a well established, quality ship building company like Hanjin in South Korea went bankrupt because of the low quality, low price competition coming from China. It happened.
It is time to adapt! We need to learn to think long term again. 10 years and onward. We have become so short sighted about our future that it has been pulled out from under us by very large and powerful foreign entities who do not have any of our best interests in mind.
Take the time and plan out the next 10 years of your life. Make sure to include a programming language in your plan. Just take the 30 minutes to an hour a day that you would have spent learning how to say "Hello, I need to find a bathroom" and use it to study a great, versatile, easy to use language like Python.
There is a seemingly infinite amount of FREE information and in depth videos for you to start learning your language of choice and put yourself in a better position in the future.
This is my first rant/warning in what is likely to become a series on living abroad and teaching or owning a business in Korea. I have a lot of valuable experience that I think needs to be shared.
Learning a foreign language is a noble endeavor. However, if you plan to use it to your financial advantage, go with learning programming languages. That is the push for the foreseeable future in the job industry overall due to the advantages that automation provides (cost reduction, predictability, analytics on data, etc.)
START WITH ONLY ONE. If you spread yourself too thin in the beginning you will not have fun. I suggest Python because it is fun, easy, and very versatile. You can use it to program desktop applications or even robots. It is a fantastic place to start. If you want to learn how to program electronics and robots using the most basic, cheap components and do it in the C language which is the basis for most modern languages, jump right in to my tutorials here on this site!
If you want a little more in depth knowledge about electronics and robotics and some entertainment head over to my Youtube channel.
See you soon!