- The Washington Times - Monday, December 31, 2012

One type of company that benefits the most from the frenzy surrounding New Year’s resolutions is those in the online language-learning industry.

People usually make New Year’s resolutions in an effort to better themselves, whether by quitting smoking, exercising more, eating better, or, increasingly, learning a new language.

“It’s the mental equivalence of weight loss and diet,” said Pimsleur Vice President Robert Riger. “We know that it’s a huge part of the business.”

Pimsleur, an online language-learning program, has noticed sales double over the past couple of weeks as consumers get ready for the holiday season, which includes giving it as a gift for Christmas or buying for themselves as a New Year’s resolution. In 2012, sales are up 300 percent from last holiday season.

Other online language companies such as Rosetta Stone and Fluenz also notice a spike in sales during the holiday season.

“The New Year’s resolution definitely helps us out,” said Sonia Gil, co-founder of Fluenz. “January is a really good month for languages.”

Learning a new language is particularly important in the business community, where it can lead to more career opportunities, Mr. Riger said. For many employees, it’s about improving their skills, to better compete for promotions and raises.

“It’s very clear that if you learn a language, it ups your pay-grade,” Mr. Riger said. “It’s clear that if you want to move up, you have to learn a language.”

Rosetta Stone spokesman Jonathan Mudd agreed that learning a second or third language plays a big role in career development.

“Likewise, workers who want to get hired or promoted are finding that being able to speak a second language makes them more attractive to employers, because they can represent the business in an increasingly diverse, global setting,” he said.

Furthermore, companies that have employees who can speak multiple languages tend to be more successful, Mr. Mudd said. In fact, many businesses that incorporate Rosetta Stone into their employee training and benefits programs notice it helps with sales, customer service and workplace safety, he added.

“We find that businesses that have multilingual employees are a lot more competitive in a global economy,” he said.

Pimsleur has contracts with companies such as IBM, CBS, Mercer and Alcoa, that let employees at those businesses use the program at a discounted price.

For business professionals, Mandarin is one of the most popular languages to learn, as China continues to emerge as a global economic power, boasting the second-largest economy in the world, behind the U.S.

“Mandarin is a big New Year’s resolution thing,” Ms. Gil said.

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