“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.” -Nelson Mandela
There are lots of reasons to learn a new language. If you’re a business owner, you might want to expand your business to a new market abroad. If you work within an internationally focused company, you may want to communicate with coworkers and position yourself for a promotion. If you love traveling, learning a language opens many doors in the midst of an overseas adventure. Or maybe you’re just interested in the cognitive benefits of learning a new language. Check out this video from the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.
We all know there are so many ways we can benefit from learning a new language. So how should you decide which language is the best for you? If you’re focused on business perhaps you should choose a language from a country that is predicted to rise economically. The BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) countries have been the focus of a lot of speculators in this field. If you want to be able to speak a new language with many other people, perhaps it’s best to learn one of the world’s most spoken languages like Mandarin or Spanish. Whatever your motivation is, these are the top ten most important languages to learn.
1. English – Learn English
English is the lingua franca of business and academia. In most countries it is the primary second language taught in schools and can be understood to some extent by 1/3 of the world’s population. English is crucial for anyone who wants to thrive on the global stage.
2. Spanish / Español – Learn Spanish
Spanish is the official language in over 20 countries and spoken by over 400 million people. It is also the second language of the United States. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Spanish is the primary language spoken at home by 38.3 million people aged five or older in the U.S. This is more than double what it was in 1990 and is projected to continue to grow quickly. If you want to do business in the U.S., or really anywhere in the Western hemisphere,español es para usted!
3. Mandarin / 普通话
China is a big country with a lot of people and ethnicities. Did you know there are close to 300 different languages spoken in China today? Although languages like Cantonese (spoken in Hong Kong, Macau, Guangdong Province, and many Chinese communities overseas) and Tibetan are widely spoken, the official language of China is Mandarin (pronounced Putonghua) and is spoken by more people than any other language on Earth. With the Chinese economy set to become number 1 by 2020, learning Mandarin could help you earn a lot of money in the future.
4. Arabic / العربية
Arabic is the official language of over 20 countries and is spoken by over 200m people. You’ll find this language spoken from Southwest Asia to Northwest Africa. If you work in the energy or defense sectors, or if you plan to work in international diplomacy, Arabic is a crucial language for you to learn.
5. French / Français
Of course we all know French as the language of love, but it is also a great language for business. It’s spoken in over 40 countries, mainly in Europe and North Africa. If you are looking to expand into European or African markets, say enchanté de français!
6. Russian / Русский
Sure it may seem that the entire Western world is engaged in sanctioning Russia, but don’t count it out quite yet. Russian is spoken throughout central and eastern Europe and in Russia. It is the second most popular language of scientific and technical literature after English and is spoken by close to 200 million people. With one of the largest economies in the world, Russia is too big to ignore.
7. German / Deutsch – Learn German
Germany is an economic powerhouse on the world stage. With a reputation for quality, craftsmanship, and intelligence, German companies like Allianz, BOSCH, Siemens, and Deutsche Bank dominate their respective industries. German is spoken in some of the most economically important countries in Europe: Germany, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Lichtenstein. German companies are operating all over the world, and if you want their business, you need to learn their language.
8. Japanese / 日本語
Like Germany, Japan has a reputation for excellence in business. Japan is one of the top economies in the world with the third highest GDP. Although their economy has tended to stagnate, it’s important not to dismiss the ingenuity of Japanese businesses. Learning the language, at least at a basic level, is very impressive and a great way to secure business with Japanese companies.
9. Portuguese / Português
Portuguese is a great language to learn as Brazil is becoming an economic superpower. However Portuguese isn’t just spoken in Portugal and Brazil, it is the official language of 10 countries from South America to Africa to Asia. Set yourself apart from all of the people who are learning Spanish and try Portuguese!
10. Hindi / हिन्दी
With close to 300 million speakers, Hindi is the official language of India along with English. However, learning Hindi does not mean you will be able to speak to anyone from India. According to the 2011 census, there are 1,635 recognized languages spoken across the country. The number two language in India is English and it is a crucial language for the business community in India. Although learning Hindi will help you speak to some Indians, don’t expect it to be a panacea for your aspirations in India.
As the leader of language instruction in South Carolina and throughout the Southeast, CORE Languages is proud to offer private and group classes in any of these vital languages listed above. Contact us today to get started and give yourself the edge you need to succeed in our global community! Click HERE for more information and to get started today!