Can Reading And Listening Help Your Career?
Recently, there is a lot of discussion about the primaries, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders or our new Prime Minister in Canada. One thing that comes out in all of this is that there is a great deal of dissatisfaction with conventional politicians, but also there’s a lot of uneasiness because so many people who used to be in the middle class no longer feel that they’re in the middle class. It used to be that if you had a good job in the local factory, perhaps your wife had a job in the factory, maybe your kids had a job in the factory. You were wealthy and you didn’t necessarily have a very high level of education. Many of those jobs no longer exist and they’re not likely to come back, so what can a person do?
Well, that’s where I believe that reading and listening, the same things that are so powerful for language learning, are extremely important in order for people to be competitive in the new economy. Of course there’s no guarantee that every educated person will get a good job, or even a job. However, there are all kinds of statistics that show that the degree of literacy of a person, in other words how well they read, how many words they know, all the things that are important in learning languages, are also the things that will determine how well you do in society, how well you do at school, how well you do in your job. Even technical jobs, the level of literacy required to read instructional manuals is very, very high.
Yes, there are problems with people who have reading disabilities and I think these people have to help themselves as much as possible. Other people may help them. We know, for example, that listening and reading are very closely connected. People who don’t read well also have trouble discerning sounds, to some extent, so these are things we have to work on, in other words, if we spend the time.
Again, just as in language learning, if you have an attitude that says I am going to improve my reading and listening skills, I’m going to improve my vocabulary. If you have that kind of attitude, you’re convinced that you’re going to succeed and you put the time into it. So you won’t be watching the football game on TV. You won’t be going to the bar to drink beer or whatever else it is that you do that might be wonderful. It might even mean taking time away from your family, but you’re going to devote that time to improving your reading and listening skills. This, in itself, will have a major impact on flattening out that widening disparity between the wealthy, who are mostly have a high rate of literacy, and the poor, who by and large don’t.
Now, there are always exceptions. There are very well educated people who have poor jobs. There are uneducated people who have good jobs. I’ve worked with people who have serious reading disabilities and who are excellent at what they do in very demanding managerial positions. There are athletes and singers. There are all kinds of exceptions. However, by and large, statistically, the better you read and listen, the better your vocabulary, the broader your knowledge, the better you do. In order to become better as a reader and a listener, you have to work at it, much the same way as we work at our language-learning skills.