The more languages you know, the richer you are, or so the saying goes.
Even if you’re not lucky enough to have been raised bilingual, or to have learned a foreign language at school, it’s never too late to start learning one, no matter how old you are.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to learn a language in order to take your business to a new market, or simply to apply for a job in a foreign market, you might be wondering which one to choose.
Let us help you make that choice by covering the six most relevant languages you can learn to do better business in the global market.
Doing business in China would be a lot easier if you spoke the language, especially given the cultural particularities of its natives. You don’t have to be fluent (in fact, you might never be), but grasping the basics and being able to exchange pleasantries in Mandarin can give you a significant boost in the eyes of the Chinese.
Another important factor to bear in mind: Mandarin is also spoken in Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, and Taiwan, which are all also emerging economies in their own right.
More than 437 million people in the world speak Spanish as their native language, which makes it the second most spoken language in the world. Add to that another 100 million people who speak it as a second or third language, and you get quite a formidable number.
Spanish is officially spoken in several countries, including (the obvious) Spain, as well as Mexico, Argentina, Columbia, and the US.
If you’re expecting to take your business to the US or one of the South American countries, being able to speak the language will come in handy.
You can easily find a school where you can learn Spanish, and since we’re all exposed to it to a certain extent via music, movies, and TV shows, you might find it a less taxing task than coping with Mandarin.
Arabic is most widely used in the Middle East, with around 420 million speakers worldwide.
As this part of the world is mostly known for its trade in gas and oil, if that is your line of business, learning Arabic might be the right choice for you.
On the other hand, don’t forget that the Middle East is also known for its hospitality and tourism industry, and is also an emerging fashion market, so there might be more opportunities there than you know of.
The German economy continues to be one of the strongest and most stable ones on the continent and within the EU. In fact, it is probably the most learned language in Europe at the moment, as more and more EU and Balkan citizens try to find employment in this burgeoning market.
Let’s not forget the fact that German is spoken in other European countries as well, including Austria, Switzerland, Luxemburg, and Liechtenstein, which are all strong economies in their own right.
If you’re looking for a job in the EU or are likely to do business with the German market, your grasp of the language can be a huge asset. It is also estimated that your knowledge of the language might come with a pay increase of up to 4% – not a fact to be brushed off lightly.
Portuguese is the most spoken language in Latin America, which is why it might be a good alternative to Spanish if you’re looking to do business in that part of the world.
Most notably, Portuguese is the official language of Brazil, which offers many opportunities for scientific and business collaboration. The country is noted for its share in the pharmaceutical and energy markets, and is only expected to expand further in the coming years. As the largest economy in Latin America, Brazil certainly offers plenty of room to succeed.
Another important fact to note is that the language is getting increasingly popular in Asia as well, as the region has strong ties to Portugal and other Lusophone countries.
If you’re looking to work with what was once the Eastern bloc, learning Russian can open many doors for you. Russian is the ninth most common language in the world today, and it’s also the second most used language for online content.
Russian is a Slavic language, and it is relatively similar to other languages in the group, including Serbian and Croatian. It is still often used in some of the ex-USSR countries in Europe. Having in mind the political and economic power of Russia, as well as its vast population, this might be a market you want to tap into.
You might notice there is a language missing from this list, one you may have expected to find competing for the top spot. Well, as you’ve read this entire post, let’s assume you already speak English and have no need to learn it.
Whichever of the above languages you choose to learn, we’re sure it will come useful in your future business dealings. Knowing another language exposes you to more than just new words – you will get to take a peek into the culture and mindset of a different people. And as the language we first learn impacts the way we think, grasping these interesting facts will certainly give you an edge in the competitive market.