I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that you already speak English. This article is written in English, so unless you’re using Google Translate, there’s a good chance you converse in my native tongue. That’s a good thing if you’re in business. English is spoken as the primary language in 94 countries by over 340 million people. 70% of them live in the United States.
Did you know that 52.3% of all websites are published in English, reaching 949 million users? If you’re doing business online, it’s by far the best language to learn. Two billion people around the world speak enough of it to place an online order. Keep that in mind if you’re running Facebook or Google ads. Your target audience is larger than you think.
Learning English if it’s not your native language can be difficult, but it’s worth it. Download Duolingo or Rosetta Stone onto your mobile device to learn the basics. There are also English certification exams that will give you a professional advantage while job searching. Check out Cambridge English Assessment to get signed up for one of those.
Other than English, there are quite a few other languages that can come in handy for certain businesses. Let's dive deeper and see what the best languages to learn for business are.
Best Languages To Learn For Business
Learning a different language can definitely be challenging, but worth it. When it comes to business, knowing another language can have great benefits. What are the best languages to learn for business? Let’s take a look.
Ecommerce Professionals Should Learn Mandarin Chinese
Mandarin Chinese is the second-best language in the world to learn for general business. It’s also number one for eCommerce. Mandarin language websites produced $714.58 Billion in sales last year, leading all other languages, including English. At one point, the Chinese economy was expected to surpass that of the United States. It didn’t happen, but they’re still a close second.
One billion people speak Chinese. That’s a huge number, but keep in mind that there is more than one dialect of the language. It’s important to understand the differences if you’re determined to make the Sino-Tibetan language group an area of study. Most Chinese citizens speak Mandarin, but it may not be native for them. There are seven main dialects:
- Putonghua (Mandarin)
- Kejia (Hakka)
- Yue (Cantonese)
Cantonese is the second most popular dialect, and less useful for business. It’s also important to note that these dialects are the verbal form of the language. Written Chinese is either Simplified or Traditional. Online Chinese language courses focus on the verbal. Learning to write and read in Chinese is a whole different undertaking. You can do that later.
Spanish Is The Language Of Emerging Markets
Four of the top eight emerging market economies in the world speak Spanish. A fifth country, Brazil, speaks primarily Portuguese, but you won’t find too many businesspeople there who don’t speak Spanish. If you’re an investor with EM in your portfolio, you’re likely diversified in Brazilian, Mexican, Peruvian, Columbian, and Chilean companies.
Latin American investments have historically been a gamble because of political upheaval and uncertain economic conditions. That’s changed in recent years. Spanish-speaking countries in the Western Hemisphere are resplendent with home-grown companies and US affiliates strengthening their respective economies. If you’re an investor, learn to speak Spanish.
If you’re in any other business and living in the United States, you might also want to learn to speak Spanish. The Latino population in the US, currently at 59 million, is projected to double by 2050, making Spanish the fastest growing language in the country. Learning to speak it will be an advantage if you’re selling a product, providing a service, or seeking employment.
Arabic Will Open New Doors For You
Westerners tend to view the Middle East and North Africa as troubled regions, but there are thriving businesses there. Twenty-eight countries speak Arabic as their native language. That list includes Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which are all safe places to travel and work. If that’s your plan, learning Arabic before you go is recommended.
The British Council in the UK rated Arabic as the second most important language of the future back in 2013. Since then, the local Muslim population has nearly doubled. While Americans are learning Chinese as a second business language, the Brits are studying Arabic. It’s a good move. The language is spoken by 295 million people. That’s a lot of potential business partners.
There are multiple apps online that you can use to study Arabic. They are all pretty much the same if you just want to learn some basic phrases and communicate while traveling. If your goal is to live and work in an Arabic nation, take a course at Al-Kunuz. The instructors are all Egyptian-born Arabs who teach about culture and customs along with the language.
Russian Rounds Out The Top Five Languages
This was close. German is a valuable language for scientists and researchers, but most Germans also speak English. Russians don’t. That could change soon, though. With trade relations at an all-time low between China and America, the US is focusing their economic efforts on the European Union and Russia. Opportunity is knocking for westerners.
Russia, along with Brazil, India, and China, is part of an emerging market investment sector known as “The BRIC.” Though often volatile and still deeply in debt, our Slavic brothers have emerged from the wreckage of the Soviet Union to become a new business frontier for businesses and remote workers. Americans live and work there frequently.
The most common job openings for foreigners in Russia are for Business Development Managers, Writers, Publishers, and English Teachers. You need to speak Russian to do any of them. If you’re looking to learn the language quickly, check out Russian Accelerator. It utilizes contextual learning, pattern recognition, and immersion to give you the total experience.
Where To Learn These Languages
Now that you know the best languages for business, you're probably wondering where and how to learn these languages. Our top choice for online language courses is Rocket Languages. Rocket Languages includes a large variety of language options, from Spanish to Arabic To Russian and more. These courses will teach you everything you need to learn for your chosen language so you can become proficient.
There are three levels available for each course with each additional level including more in-depth lessons and materials. Rocket Languages courses include real-world conversations, a voice recognition tool for pronunciation, over 120 hours of lessons for each level, and even an app so you can learn on the go. If you're looking to learn a new language for your business, give Rocket Languages a try!Start Learning A New Language Today
Study The Culture As Your Learn A New Language
If you’re going to learn a new language, immerse yourself in the culture as well. It’s one thing to know what you’re saying. But, you can take it to another level when you truly understand why you’re saying it. This is particularly important if you plan on doing business in another country or with a different ethnic group here in the US.
Now you know the benefits different languages can have for different businesses. Make use of this guide and decide what language is best for your needs. All that's left to do is find the right online language course or way of learning that new language that works for you, and then you can put it to use!