Not surprisingly, increasing your career prospects is one of the best aspects of speaking several languages. With worldwide trade ever on the increase, being multilingual is one of the best ways to give yourself an edge in the business world – employers are much more likely to hire you if you are able to communicate with their foreign partners in their native language.
Naturally, the best languages to learn for getting hired, vary from country to country and industry to industry. While taking a look at a list of your country’s main trade partners might give you an idea of what employers would be most interested in, there are certain languages that can help you in nearly every business sector.
With China’s influence on world economy rising by the year, speaking Mandarin is one of the best ways you can remain competitive through the changing business climate. The country is already the second-biggest economy in the world and, although it has a lot of catching up to do, China is projected to overtake the current leader – the United States – by around 2030.
Although the Chinese speak hundreds of different dialects, Mandarin is the official language and spoken by around 1 billion people. Although it is often considered one of the hardest languages for native English speakers, learning Mandarin is an investment that will pay off in the long run.
While China might be gaining ground, the United States and the Eurozone still lead world trade and these regions are very much English-centric. English is also the lingua franca around the wor
ld and used for international business communication more often than not. Even in non-English speaking countries, many of the international corporations use the language in their day-to-day communication.
The only reason why English isn’t at the top of this list, is its wide prevalence – while knowing English is almost mandatory in international business, it is so common that speaking it will not give you much of an edge.
Knowing Arabic will open many doors if you’re looking to do business in the Middle East. Naturally, this language is especially important for the petroleum industry and diplomats, but Arabic is also the official language of many of the emerging economies around the world. Additionally, the oil-rich Gulf countries are currently investing heavily in transport and construction, leading to numerous lucrative opportunities in the region. All of this means that the possibilities this languages grants are only increasing.
Unfortunately, Arabic is also notoriously difficult for English-speakers but the benefits of learning it will definitely outweigh the costs. As there is a demand for Arabic-speakers that is currently not being met, knowing this language will greatly increase your career prospects. Although Arabic-speaking countries have widely different dialects, knowing Modern Standard Arabic is a great starting point for business.
Behind Mandarin, Spanish is the language with the second highest numbers of native speakers, uniting most nations in Central and South America. More importantly, in many of these countries, English is not widely known. So, if you are looking to do business in Latin America, speaking Spanish is vital. In addition, it is also the biggest minority language in the United States – with the exception of only seven states, Spanish will be the most common second language you’ll come in contact with throughout the country.
The good news for prospective learners is that Spanish is a relatively easy language. You will find a lot of the vocabulary similar, or at least recognisable, and, unlike number one and three on this list, Spanish uses the Latin alphabet, is completely phonetic, and does not present many challenges in pronunciation.
Sadly, French has fallen from grace in the last couple of centuries. It used to be the uniting language of European aristocracies and the go-to diplomatic language of the world until English took over. Nonetheless, French is still spoken by over 75 million people and is the official language in some the most important international organisations, such as the European Union, NATO, and OECD.
One of the reasons French is expected to remain important in the world is that it is also widely spoken in Africa, due to the long history of colonisation. With many African countries on the list of the fastest growing economies (and populations), French can be the natural gateway into this region for people who feel less up to the challenge of learning Swahili or Arabic.
With one of the biggest economies in the world and a notoriously reclusive culture, knowledge of Japanese is a must if you’re looking to take advantage of the opportunities this high-tech country offers. Japan leads the world in robotics and scientific advancement but due to the complicated language, the demand for Japanese speakers far outreaches the supply.
With the Japanese population expected to shrink, the country faces some tough decisions going forward and, while it has been reluctant to accept much immigration in the past, this policy might be forced to end. If and when that happens, knowing Japanese will open many doors in this advanced and innovative nation.
While the most beneficial foreign language to learn might depend on which country and what sector you are working in, there are some choices that can open doors across the globe. Focusing on languages with a high number of speakers and promising business opportunities will definitely help to keep you competitive in the global economy.
Author bio: This post was written by Liisi – a language enthusiast herself, she is also the co-founder and marketing whiz at Teacher Finder – a platform that helps language lovers find private teachers quickly and easily.