Thanks to technology, the economy, tourism, and advances in transport, countries with limited connection to the outside world began to trade. It’s a fact, the world we live in is becoming more and more open and it brings with it a range of new challenges.
Although the borders gradually opened in the early 2000s thanks in particular to the creation of common spaces (European Union with Schengen for example), the local culture of each country did not change overnight, and the languages have remained as concrete “barriers” blocking smooth communication. English remains the international reference language for everyone, but it is not the only language in which you should invest.
We have selected the 6 languages most useful in the professional world from the point of view of a European. Indeed, depending on the region of the world in which you live or work, it is clear that some languages may prove more useful than others.
In 2020, the English language knows more than 1.3 billion speakers and for 400 million of them, it is their first language. English is the official language of 67 countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Ireland, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Many of these countries are open to the economic world and with which you want to be able to deal with.
In addition, English has over time become the international reference language: computer programming, instructions, websites, culture, etc. Today English is a language that allows you to reach more people around the world.
There are currently 405 million native Spanish speakers worldwide, the majority of whom are from South America. Mastering this language is therefore a considerable advantage in the business world since it opens the doors to new promising markets in Latin America, as well as in Spain. Also, let’s not forget that in the United States, nearly 40 million people use Spanish as their first language.
And, let’s face it, the “Casa de Papel” series was much better seen in its original version.
French is one of the most important languages in the business world and it is not surprising.
Spoken by no less than 270 million people around the world, French is of course spoken in France, but also in Quebec, Canada and in a lot of African countries such as the Ivory Coast, Senegal and Gabon.
The language of Molière is fast becoming one of the most spoken languages in the world with the African continent experiencing a demographic explosion, quickly increasing the number of speakers. It is estimated to be 700 million by 2050.
With more than a billion speakers in 2020, Mandarin is the most widely spoken language in the world (as a first language). Unlike English widely spoken around the world, the vast majority of Chinese speakers are based in Asia and mainly in China.
Although growth is slowing, China remains a developing country at breakneck speed when compared to other Western countries. To do business with China, knowing Mandarin is almost essential, since only few Chinese people are fluent in English.
In addition, studying Mandarin will teach you a lot about the Chinese culture since this very old language was built along with the history of the Chinese Empire since the Zhou dynasty (1122-256 BC). This aspect is not negligible when you understand the challenges of working within the Chinese business market.
Based mainly in Portugal and Brazil, Portuguese speakers are nearly 240 million worldwide (native and second language combined).
Brazil is the largest economic market in South America and, like the Chinese, the majority of Brazilians do not speak English. To integrate with this gigantic economic market, it is advisable to know Portuguese.
After several successive political, economic and health crises, especially now with COVID-19 in 2020, Brazil has seen its growth put to the test, but it seems that the indicators are green for a recovery.
Although there is no precise estimate of the number of Arabic speakers, there are still between 315 and 375 million people who use this language worldwide. Although economic, social and political conflicts have delayed the integration of this language into Western culture, it is beautiful and very present and represents a high level of added value in the world of work today.
A French orientalist Ernest RENAN said: “The strangest thing that has happened in human history concerns the spread of the Arabic language. Indeed, the Arabic language was unknown, and suddenly it experienced a full and complete expansion. This language has neither childhood nor old age. It has surpassed its sisters by the richness of its vocabulary, by the precision of its terms and by the accuracy of its construction system and its structure.”
In an increasingly globalised world, learning Arabic will open doors to companies wishing to develop within young, rich oriental markets which are becoming more and more open to the Western world.
By learning a language you get a peek inside their culture. Between sentence structure and vocabulary you start to understand the origin of the language and the thought process of native speakers. Of course, this list is not exhaustive and depending on your profession or your work environment, knowing languages like German, Russian, Japanese or Hindi could be more beneficial.
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