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What does a Bilingual Secretary do?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A bilingual secretary provides administrative support in two languages. Typically, the person speaks the dominant language of a region in addition to a useful secondary language; a secretary in Canada, for example, might be bilingual in English and French, while someone working in California might find English and Spanish more useful. Bilingual secretaries can find work at a variety of organizations, ranging from financial institutions to government agencies where people regularly encounter clients who speak different languages.

The bilingual secretary can communicate effectively in either language, interacting with clients, people in the workplace, and professional connections. When an office needs to translate material to send out, the secretary can do this, and he can also translate material a company receives so it can be understood. Bilingual secretaries may place phone calls and other communications on behalf of their employers, as well as being present at meetings where people need a translator to communicate.

In addition to knowing two languages, the bilingual secretary is also usually familiar with cultural differences. This can be useful when translating material in an accessible way or helping to bridge gaps in understanding that go beyond simply not sharing a language in common. Bilingual secretaries can provide etiquette advice and instruction for their employers so they can be more successful in business meetings and other formal settings.

To work as a bilingual secretary, someone usually needs to have basic secretarial qualifications like comfort with office equipment, good typing skills, and literacy with the area of business covered by an office. In addition, she will need to demonstrate bilingual language skills. Some hold certificates testifying to their abilities, while others may simply provide employers with evidence like school transcripts demonstrating competency in a second language.

People with bilingual language skills are very employable in many regions of the world, especially if they speak a second language in hot demand. A bilingual secretary usually makes more than a monolingual speaker in a similar position because he can be more useful to the company. More benefits may be available to people with extra skills, including opportunities for travel with the company, as they will be useful additions to traveling groups in foreign countries. People who speak more than two languages can also be highly useful, especially in urban and international settings where people from a wide variety of backgrounds expect to be able to communicate with a company, organization, or agency.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a Practical Adult Insights researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By candyquilt — On Aug 03, 2014

@fBoyle-- Is it necessary for a bilingual speaker to have some sort of certification for the languages they speak? I know that certification programs exist to be a secretary. But how can someone prove their abilities in two languages to land this kind of job?

By fBoyle — On Aug 02, 2014

@bluedolphin-- Not just in the US, but there is a growing demand for this outside of the country as well.

Since many US businesses and companies now operate in other countries, they need bilingual employees for their headquarters in those countries. It can be a great opportunity for someone who grew up speaking two languages and who wants to travel and live in other countries.

By bluedolphin — On Aug 02, 2014

Spanish is becoming the most widely spoken language in the US after English correct? If that's the case, there is going to be a huge demand for bilingual secretaries and other office personnel that are fluent in both Spanish and English in the near future. I highly recommend parents to encourage their kids to pick Spanish as a second language in school. There are going to be many vacancies for bilingual secretaries in states with many Hispanic residents.

It has already happened in many states. I live in Virginia and all of the government services in that area such as social services have secretaries that can speak both English and Spanish. In fact, since I look a little Hispanic, I'm often handed a Spanish form at various places in Virginia, even though I request the form in English!

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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