Why learn a language for business? I’m sure you know the many benefits of learning a second language—the ability to communicate with others, the way it opens your mind to new cultures and opportunities, traveling becomes much easier, not to mention the physiological benefits it has for your brain. Another clear benefit of learning a language is the leg up it will give you in the business world. Here’s our ranking of the most useful languages to learn for your career.
If you’re still skeptical about the advantages of learning a foreign language for business purposes, skip down to the next section to read about them. (Go ahead, we’ll wait.) If you take our word for it, we’ll get straight to the fun part: which languages are most advantageous to have in your repertoire as a businessperson. We took it upon ourselves to summarize 8 of the best languages to learn if you want to succeed in the business world. Now, it’s up to you to choose which one is right for your career!
With 554 million Hindi and Urdu speakers worldwide, these are definitely beneficial languages to learn for work and business. India is the second largest nation in the world. Although Hindi is not the national language of India (there are instead many official languages, Hindi being one of them), it is the language used in all official documentation, making it a useful language to learn in the business world.
Not to mention the growing global economy India has. Learning Hindi could open up many opportunities for someone looking to work or trade in India.
Let’s look at the numbers first. Around 229 million people speak French all over the world and there are 76 million French native speakers, making it an important language to learn in general. But how about for business? Well, international organizations such as the World Health Organisation and the United Nations use French as an official language.
In 2017, the British Council posted a publication investigating the “languages of the future”—the best languages to learn for business and trade from a UK perspective. It stated that French had actually overtaken German as being the most important language for trade. So it’s clear that knowledge of the French language certainly benefits you in business.
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When you think of Japan, you might have an image of advanced technology and robots. You wouldn’t be wrong. Japan is one of the leading economies in many technological fields including robotics and electronics. If you want to work in a business relating to technology, learning Japanese is definitely going to help you form stronger relationships, or even get a job in a Japanese company.
Japan is facing a major labor shortage, so skilled foreign workers are in very high demand. Picking up Japanese could be the key to unlocking an incredible career abroad!
Spanish is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. This makes Spanish undoubtedly one of the most useful languages to learn. This extends to business as, with Spanish being the second most spoken language by number of speakers, it plays an important role in business, trade, and communication throughout the world.
And you’re in luck as Spanish is also considered one of the easiest languages for many people to learn (particularly native French, Portuguese, Italian and English speakers).
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Learning Arabic will open doors to business in the Middle East as most people in the Middle East use Arabic to communicate day-to-day. There are around 422 million Arabic speakers worldwide.
The Middle East is an important destination for oil and gas businesses and Arabic is the language used to communicate in these industries. Arabic speakers also have many influential businesses in fashion, tourism, and many more areas so learning Arabic is sure to give you a leg up in the business world.
The U.S. government also designated it as a critical language, one that is “critical to our national security and prosperity.” If you are interested in working in diplomacy, Arabic is a lucrative language to learn.
Over 100 million people throughout Europe speak German. It is not only the official language of Germany. Learning German will increase your business opportunities in countries such as Switzerland and Austria, where they also use German as an official language, too.
Germany is actually ranked third in the world as being one of the most economically beneficial languages to learn. Say no more!
I’m sure you can guess why Mandarin is one of the top languages to learn for business. The first reason is the number of people communicating in Mandarin. It has the highest number of native speakers of any language in the world.
In terms of business, China is one of the strongest economic powers in the world. It has the second-largest economy and has recorded an average economic growth of 10% over the past 30 years. Some experts expect it to become the number one economic power in the world by 2050.
Since China has one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, it is clear that Mandarin is one of the best languages to learn if you want to work in business.
What is the international language of business? English, of course! Finally, let’s look at why English is one of the best languages to learn for business.
English is the most common global language and the most widely spoken language by non-natives in the world. To be exact, 1.35 billion people in the world (natives and non-natives) speak it. Many economies use English as their official language for business.
English is almost essential if you want to grow your business or work for foreign companies.
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Having knowledge of a second language will increase your chances of success in business and work. Still not convinced? Let’s have a closer look at why you should consider learning languages for business.
As businesses are expanding at an international level, the need for language speakers has increased. Having a second language will make you more employable as language skills are not just seen as an asset but as a need in many businesses nowadays.
And not just for jobs in international commerce. People who work in teaching, nursing, law enforcement, and many other fields benefit from being able to communicate with people who speak other languages.
Do bilingual jobs pay more? Most of the time, yes.
Just how much more do bilingual employees make? A study based on data from Salary.com and featured in the Financial Post found that people who are fluent in two languages can earn between 5-20% more per hour than people who speak just one. In fact, according to Salary.com, the average salary in the United States for jobs that require bilingualism is over $270K per year! That’s enough to motivate me!
Some countries and states, such as California, even have a differential pay policy in their legislation. Legally, employers must compensate their employees for their bilingual skills. In L.A. County, California, bilingual workers get a $100 bonus each month, simply for their language skills.
I’m sure you’ve already heard about the benefits learning a second language has on the brain.
But have you considered how these things could help you in the business world? Studies have shown that by learning a second language, you are also more likely to be better at multitasking, decision-making, and forming strong relationships (three-quarters of businesses surveyed by Vanson Bourne in 2014 said that multilingual employees have a positive impact on client relationships).
These are all undeniably important skills to have if you want to succeed in work and business.
So, there we have it. Eight of the top languages to learn for business. There are definitely more languages considered useful for the business world, such as Russian, Portuguese, Italian, and Dutch. Either way, it’s clear that being able to speak a second language is an advantage for business and work.
Which language will you choose?
Interested in the intersection of language and business? Check out these other articles:
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- How Well Do World Leaders Speak English? [VIDEO]