English may be the lingua franca of the business world, but if you’re not up for a rendezvous with a language prof, you could be drawing your own limits.

“Foreign languages these days have only advantages,” notes global citizen coach Elizabeth Kruempelmann — and that’s not just for the time zone-trotting polyglots who close deals in foreign restaurants before jetsetting to exotic airports.

A little bit of Deutch, Español, Swahili, or Urdu can usher in opportunities to the average joes working the airports, and the restaurants, too.


“We’re talking about millions of jobs,” says Elizabeth Lunney, CEO of New York’s ABC Language Exchange. “It can be service industry, health industry, anything where learning a language is going to help you interact.”

If you’ve never fathomed a foreign tongue, the idea of climbing from language-deaf to conversational may seem daunting. That’s why Lunney recommends you “be brave in the language.”

“Once you get over the fear of speaking, learning becomes much easier,” agrees Kruempelmann. Besides, she adds, “It’s the speaking that companies are looking for.”

It’s a good habit, both concur, to seek out sympathetic native speakers — people patient enough to smile while you disfigure their verbs.

“In any metropolitan area, there will be groups that speak the language you’re learning,” Kruempelmann says.

Start with a restaurant, the French bistro or the Nigerian chop bar — “that can be fun,” Kruempelmann adds, and language learning should be.

“You have to treat this like an adventure,” offers Lunney. “Just take it one step at a time. If you keep at it, you’ll get there.”

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