Knowing more than one language has been increasingly important in order to communicate in a wide range of workplaces, and to contribute to cultural diversity desired by employers (Kasselmann, 2007; Silveria, 2014).

Jim Smith, executive director of Cambridge Center for Adult Education remarked, “flight attendants, sales representatives, geologists, paralegals, travel agents, bank tellers, and social workers all find a second language helpful or necessary in their jobs”, which highly exemplifies the widespread need for multilingualism in various walks of life (Kassselmann, 2007, p. 1).

In the business world, there is a strong requirement for companies to utilise various native languages to target customers effectively as found in surveys (Graham, 2011). Therefore, it is important for businesses to adapt to the languages used in the foreign markets. This includes taking measures to make different translations available on company websites in order to connect with customers in a foreign country, and enhancing marketability of the business (Graham, 2011).

Multilingualism can also facilitate creativity, a skill valuable in the workplace. When exposed to living abroad and when reminded of multicultural experiences requiring more than one solution, participants experience enhanced creativity (Maddux, Adam, & Galinsky, 2010). This suggests that multilinguals, who are indirectly exposed to various cultures, will display greater creativity as opposed to non-multilinguals.

Knowing a second language is useful for professionals particularly in the healthcare industry, such as social workers, doctors and nurses (Kasselmann, 2007). Well-trained interpreters are viewed to contribute to the patients’ recovery (Flores, 2010).

Conversely, lack of multilingualism in healthcare professionals can lead to serious trouble in the field. If individual patients do not understand the lingua franca, they become less motivated to share their conditions with the doctor or may even discontinue treatment (Flores, 2000). With communication barriers between patients and medical staff, there are high chances that patients may not receive quality treatments (Greenbaum, 2014).

According to Flores et al. (2003), translation errors happen frequently in day-to-day procedures, in which almost half of such cases potentially led to serious and dangerous medical issues, for instance, instructions were given to a parent to administer oral antibiotic into the child’s ears instead of mouth. Interpreter mistakes resulted in wrong diagnoses, which in turn led to avoidable lawsuit settlements involving huge quantities of compensation (Flores et al, 2003).

Considering the Executive Order 13166 law (“Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency”) that has been in effect since August 2000 in United States, the existence of such medical misinterpretations indicates that not only a greater number of multilingual interpreters are needed, the interpreters must also be workplace-trained (U.S. English, 2003).

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