There are so many good reasons to learn a foreign language. But the main motivation for many remains work.
Mastering one or more foreign languages is indeed one of the most important skills in the world of business. But which language should you learn?
Although English is almost a lingua franca today and is spoken around the world, in some areas English is not enough to get work (as in the tourism sector or in international trade).
Apart from English, which languages are most useful to find a job?
Every language is a plus and there are several reasons to learn a new one. This article analyzes the 7 most useful languages. If career reasons really are the main reason for your learning, then it is imperative that you do a more specific analysis of your area of work.
The Latin language is still taught, and Latin is undoubtedly a good basis for learning a Romance language more easily. But probably you can already imagine that a criterion for a useful language is for it to be spoken these days, so it counts among the living languages. Therefore, here are three main criteria for choosing and prioritizing which language to learn:
- It’s growth globally
- Importance from political and economic points of view
- Geographical proximity to the country of origin
According to Paul Lewis’s Ethnologue book, the top ten most widely spoken languages are: Chinese (which groups the 12 languages spoken in China), Bengali, English, Hindi, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, German and Russian.
Ranking the Most Useful Foreign Languages for Work
- French is spoken by more than 220 million people worldwide
- There are about 80 million native speakers and is undoubtedly a global language
The trend is rising because French even has the potential to become the new global language, since population growth in French-speaking Countries in the coming years should be the highest! French is the official language of twenty-nine countries such as Canada, France, Monaco, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Ivory Coast, Haiti, Senegal, Rwanda, Togo, Belgium, Mali and other countries.
French companies are leaders in the pharmaceutical, telecommunications, aerospace and energy sectors.
In addition, French plays a key role in development aid initiatives in Africa, as French is, inter alia, the official national language in many countries in North, Central, East and West Africa. Those who speak French have a clear advantage in consultancy, foundations and non-profit organizations with a focus on Africa. In addition, French is the official language of the the Red Cross, United Nations, the Olympic Games, NATO and other organizations on an international level.
- The Spanish language is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world
- It is the mother tongue for more than 400 million people in over 44 countries.
Spanish is one of the most important languages for all countries in the world. It is extremely popular with students and for anyone who wants to do business or work internationally. Mastering the Spanish language is a big plus that can open many doors.
Spain remains one of the most popular holiday destinations for tourists. Ten million a year travel to Spain to spend more than three months in this warm, southern European country. If you work in the tourism sector, learn Spanish now!
- More than 75 million people are speaking Italian in more than 34 countries around the world (Italy, San Marino, Switzerland, Vatican, Brazil, Argentina, and more former colonies of Italy).
The Italian language is also the language of artists and one of the official languages of the European Union. It has always had some importance in international institutions and in the diplomatic context. Therefore, knowledge of the Italian language is definitely an advantage.
As a Romance language, Italian is similar to Spanish and French, making it relatively easy to learn, especially if you already speak one of these languages.
- China has a population of over 1.37 billion, which is just under 20% of all the people on the earth)
- The number 1 trading partner for many countries in the world.
If you want to work in international trade, then you should really think about learning Chinese.
You have to know that there are 12 different variants of Chinese. The most popular language among them is the Mandarin, which is spoken by almost 900 million people. Learning Mandarin is really a great idea, as the language is very important for business and commerce. However, it can also be very helpful in the diplomatic and military fields … The few people who have successfully learned Chinese will have an incredible advantage over those who have to deal with English.
Because of the different pitches in pronunciation and writing, Mandarin has a reputation for being hard to learn. But there are no different verb tenses, and hardly any grammar or conjugation to learn.
- Portuguese is the 5th most spoken language
Of course, Portuguese is spoken in Portugal, but also in Brazil. And Brazil is a country with considerable economic growth. Portuguese is also spoken in certain African countries such as the resource-rich Angola. Like Spanish, Portuguese is not that difficult to learn.
The importance of Arabic becomes clear when you take another look at the statistics:
- The language is spoken by more than 260 million native speakers in fifty-seven countries.
- Arabic takes the 4th place in the ranking of the most spoken language.
Many Arab-speaking countries provide important resources such as oil to the West. So it is not surprising that the recent geopolitical events have forced the West to approach the Arab world.
Written Arabic is based on a system that is standardized and common almost everywhere the language is spoken. But, the diversity of Arabic through the various dialects and variations in the spoken language becomes very clear. A Lebanese will not necessarily understand a Moroccan. The Egyptian variation of Arabic is a good dialect for learning, as this form of Arabic is supposed to be the most universal (partly due to the film industry in Egypt).
One of the US ministries has classified Arabic as one of the hardest-to-learn languages, on a par with Japanese, Korean, Mandarin or Mongolian. You will need quite the motivation to learn it!
Communicating in Arabic is a plus especially for professions in politics and in the military field. But also in journalism or tourism Arabic is very helpful.
- Russia is a major economic power and Russian is an important language of communication in Russia and in all countries of the former Soviet Union.
- There are about 170 million native Russian speakers.
Russian is one of the most popular languages in the world and mastery could be a clear advantage in professional life.
Due to the Cyrillic alphabet, Russian may not be as easy to learn as English or a Romance language. So you should be really motivated to learn it, otherwise you risk being quickly discouraged.
The German language deserves an honorary mention. Although it is a worldly language, it is actually spoken by much less people compared to the languages on this list. But, you should definitely consider learning it because sometimes the choice of the language that will be most beneficial for you can depend on the country you live in, and the German language there may be in high need.
We hope you found this article useful!