Most Useful Languages for Business
By: Sehar Khan
It is said that out of 7000 estimated number of languages in the world, 2400 are classified as ‘in danger” while one language dies every 14 days. This is shocking news, considering that out of 2400 languages, 231 are already extinct and others are on the verge of extinction. With this rate, it would not be a surprise if the number of languages drop to a figure in hundreds.
A business stands a fair chance of expansion and gaining international audience if its managers and owners speak more than one language—other than their native languages of course. The reasons that businesses must learn new languages are:
Business deals involve interactions with real people:
It is a fact that regardless of how advanced the translation tools become, real business will always involve interactions with real people. Whether you are the owner of a small shop or a manager in a multinational company, at the end of the day, you will have to communicate with people who will often belong to different linguistic communities.
Learning languages lend more value:
With the global expansions that businesses of today are going through, it is vital that employees speak a second language. In fact, about 64% of top level managers cite language barriers as the main obstacle in the way of global expansion
Learning languages is the key to attaining knowledge
Learning new languages comes with its own set of benefits, one of which is the cultural and social knowledge one attains when learning another language—how the people think, act and communicate. This knowledge itself is sufficient to give an idea about what the other nations think like and how best to talk business with them.
Let’s take a look at some of the most useful languages for businesses:
English is the lingua franca of the corporate world, and is spoken in 94 countries by 339 million native speakers, making it one of the most important language for international businesses. English also claims the top spot as the most common language among internet users with approximately 949 million users and the most commonly used language among website users.
Spanish is one of the top languages vital for businesses and the second most widely spoken language after Mandarin. Other than the United States, some of the fastest emerging nations speak Spanish including Mexico, Paraguay, and Colombia. Spanish is the native language of more than 20 countries, with approximately 34% of businesses in UK terming Spanish as “useful for their organizations”.
Mandarin—the most widely spoken language in the world is spoken by 995 million people across the globe. That is approximately one billion—a huge figure. As China’s economy continues to flourish,the demand for Mandarin continues to rise. The evidence for its expansion also lies in the fact that global business such as Alibaba have been born in China and are making their way to global fame.
Portuguese may be a step behind Spanish in popularity but it is an undeniable fact that it is spoken by over 200 million people and is the official language of Brazil, the 7th largest economy of the world. Learning Portuguese can lend innumerable business advantages as it is widely spoken, easy to learn and is a popular language amongst the millennial population.
The world of today is an Arab’s world and it would not be an exaggeration to say that the Arab nation is quickly becoming one of the wealthiest nations of the world. Due to the sheer size of this Arab world, new business and job opportunities are constantly opening in the Arab world, with a steady stream directed at managerial level jobs.
Russia is the largest country in the world, covering about one-eighth of the world’s land surface. With this size and as a leader in oil, steel and natural gas resources, Russia is a breeding ground for businesses—one that must be taken advantage of if a business is aiming to establish itself in front of the greatest audience.
Germany is a rapidly growing economy of the world and the German language has more than 90 million speakers. In the terms of business, Germany plays an extremely important role in the European Union and is deemed as the language of invention, science and technology.
An official language of the European Union, French is the second most widely learnt language after English. According to British Council, approximately 49% of businesses today are seeking employees who can speak French. This is an added advantage for business growth, and the future of French is bright, with an estimate that there would be 750 million French speakers in the world by 2050.
Japan is the 3rd largest economy in the world and is popularly known as the center point of the most innovative companies of the world. Japanese language has 130 million speakers located mainly in Japan and is the sixth most popular language among internet users. Learning Japanese for business can provide a company with a host of opportunities, especially in the field of science and technology.
Last, but not the least, Hindi is the fifth most spoken language in the world with approximately 260 million native speakers. Categorized as one of the emerging nations of the world, India is home to 125 million English speakers and its huge consumer base belonging to a plethora of cultures is a thriving ground for businesses and trade.
In essence, regardless of which language you choose, new languages have to be constantly added to your inventory of languages as the world continues to progress and trade ties continue to increase across border. To ensure you get the widest audience for your business, learn, implement, and grow in languages other than your own—it is the need of times!