Multi-lingual students getting ahead

By Justin Katz |


James Phillips’ native language might be English, but this summer he spent more than a quarter of his time speaking German.

Phillips, a Flagler College student, worked in the U.S. Consulate in Frankfurt, Germany as a summer hire for public affairs.

“I believe the value in knowing multiple languages is that you can connect with people on a deeper level,” said Phillips.

For students like Phillips, being multilingual can make a huge difference when entering the work force. In a 2010 survey, 39 percent of employers stated that if they had two equally qualified employees, they would choose a bilingual candidate over a monolingual one, according to

As an intern, Phillips’ responsibilities included photographing official events and writing introductory speeches for upper level officials. Along with a team of other interns, he also kept the consulate’s social media feeds going by providing snapshots of events, political officials and recognizing various holidays occurring in both the U.S. and Germany.

While working for the consulate, he was able to meet various government officials in the area, including the Lord Mayors of Frankfurt and Tübingen.

For Phillips, learning languages such as German and Spanish was necessary. Phillips’ parents are both U.S. diplomats and he has lived and gone to school in both Peru and Austria.

Phillips has noticed many differences between the United States and European Union.

“Everyone in the E.U. is required to learn English. In the U.S., it’s your own choice. There are many more multilingual people in the E.U,” said Phillips.

As the global job market changes, it will be more pertinent for Americans to speak more than one language.

“[Being multi-lingual] makes you marketable to organizations and companies with international clients,” says Tara Stevenson, Director of Career Services at Flagler College.

Beyond getting a job, the base pay of a bilingual individual is up to 20 percent greater than a monolingual individual, according to

Aside from earning a larger paycheck, learning a new language can also be rewarding.

“Learning a language doesn’t mean explaining yourself in the language, it means to understand the culture… They say you only really understand a language when you understand the jokes,” said Barbara Ottaviani-Jones, visiting professor of Italian language.

Phillips said he couldn’t provide any German jokes because “German humor is no laughing matter.”


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Be the first to comment on "Multi-lingual students getting ahead"

Leave a comment