Learning a foreign language adds an impressive skill to your resume. When hiring managers see language proficiency on your application, they instantly know a few key things about you: that you’re dedicated to lifelong learning and professional development, that you have an understanding of another culture, and that you are able to communicate with foreign colleagues or counterparts in their native language. Knowledge of a language other than English can make you the go-to in your office for specific international projects, giving you the opportunity to contribute to your team in a major way… or even to leverage your skills toward your next promotion!
Of course, any foreign language skills will be valuable to you in your professional endeavors. In particular industries or companies, though, certain languages may prove more useful than others. To really impress your boss or better qualify you for a new position, consider studying one of these important languages for business.
Germany is home to many of the world’s most powerful international businesses, including corporate giants like BOSCH, Siemens, Deutsche Bank, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche. German is the most widely spoken native language in the European Union; outside of Germany, it is spoken in Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Lichtenstein, regions of northern Italy, and several other European nations.
Number of speakers worldwide: 229 million
Critical industries: automotive engineering, chemicals, IT/telecommunications, electronics, steel and metal, energy, manufacturing
In spite of its small size, Japan boasts one of the world’s most robust economies, with the 3rd highest global GDP. In Japan, adhering to cultural principles is an important part of successful negotiation and partnership. Familiarity with these values, with the meaning of body language in Japanese culture, and with the Japanese perspective on meetings (in short, that their purposes is primarily for information gathering, rather than for decision-making) is absolutely essential for positive business interactions. Making an effort to speak the language can go a long way in gaining respect from Japanese counterparts, making Japanese one of the most important languages for business
Number of speakers worldwide: 127 million
Critical industries: consumer electronics, optics, fibers, automotive manufacturing
China’s economy is the fastest-growing in the world, and the second-largest based on GDP. As the top global exporter of goods and leading nation for trade, China is only continuing to grow as an international economic powerhouse. As with Japan, understanding cultural cues is especially crucial when dealing with Chinese business partners. Business dealings in China are conducted according to a fixed hierarchical structure, and building trusting relationships is of the utmost importance to successful negotiation. Offering pleasantries and introductions in Mandarin is very well received in Chinese business meetings, as well, and Mandarin speakers are major assets to companies working in international markets across emerging industries.
Number of speakers worldwide: 1.1 billion
Critical industries: electronics, iron and steel, textiles, chemicals, automotive manufacturing, agriculture, ships and aircraft
Brazil now has the seventh-largest economy in the world and continues to gain standing on a global stage; and major international events like the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics keep the nation in the spotlight and at the top of tourism and cultural attraction lists. Opportunities for investment in emerging markets in Brazil make the region an important focal point for international deals, and make Portuguese one of the most valuable languages for business.
Number of speakers worldwide: 200 million
Critical industries: iron and steel, automobile assembly, chemicals, cement, petroleum
Spanish is one of the most spoken languages in the world, and a particularly important language in the United States, where it is the most studied and most common native language other than English. The purchasing power of the Spanish-speaking market in the U.S. has surpassed $1.5 trillion, and demand for Spanish language skills is tremendous for employers in every sector. Spanish proficiency likewise benefits companies operating in European markets, and with Latin America continuing to welcome expansion from major international corporations and billions of dollars in foreign investment, Spanish is without a doubt one of the world’s most important languages for business.
Number of speakers worldwide: 420 million
Critical industries: medicine/nursing, management, construction, media, hospitality, manufacturing
So, language learners: as you memorize vocabulary lists and work through grammar exercises, don’t forget to keep in mind the bigger picture! Learning a foreign language and culture can provide a huge boost to your career… especially if it’s one of these essential languages for business.
Looking to get started learning one of the most important languages for business? Contact CORE Languages today!