With world trade growing steadily each year (a 2.7% increase in 2015 according to the World Trade Organization), communicating in more than one language has never been more crucial.
Whilst we caution you to leave any crucially important translation and/or interpretation to the professionals to avoid any mishaps, having a basic command of a foreign language relevant to your line of work can be really useful for improving business relations.
So if you’ve always wanted to learn another language, there is no better time than the present.
We’ve rounded up the 5 most relevant languages to learn right now.
It’s the most spoken dialect of the world’s most spoken language; communicating in Mandarin can be incredibly valuable for businesses. China’s booming economy has expanded Mandarin’s influence in the world. In the last year China’s staggering growth has catapulted it into the position of world’s second largest economy.
Out of nearly 1.4 billion people in mainland China, only 10 million speak English; a tiny proportion compared with the size of the country.
Chinese influence has spread from Africa to beyond and as their spending powers grow they may become less accommodating of the language barriers between China and the UK.
Where is Mandarin spoken?
Mainland China, and as a second dialect in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.
Arabic is the language of up-and coming-nations, wealthy centers and frontier markets. Areas such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi are not only popular tourist centres, they’re also international finance and business hubs.
Sure, it’s highly likely you’ll get by fine on business in the global communities of Doha and Dubai, however learning Arabic can certainly help you engage with a part of the world that often goes unseen in the West.
The Islamic Finance Industry is worth almost $2 Billion and areas of the Middle East have benefited from this rapid 10-12% annual rise. For example, Dubai now ranks 13th in the Global Financial Centre Index ahead of such cities as Beijing, Shanghai and Paris.
Being able to speak Arabic gives your business a significant advantage in this sometimes insular market. Find out how Arabic can help your business here.
Where is Arabic spoken?
In the Middle East: Bahrain, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.
In Africa: Algeria, Chad, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, and Tunisia.
Spain is a country of beautiful football, beautiful people and beautiful weather. Is it any wonder that the language is known as the ‘loving tongue’?
Spanish is often seen as the easiest language to learn, but that doesn’t make it any less valuable or complex. The combined GDP of Spanish speaking countries tops $6 trillion.
Spanish is one of the most highly spoken languages in the world with 500 million speakers worldwide. Of that 500 million, 50 million are in the USA, meaning Spain is not your only potential trading partner.
Where is Spanish spoken?
In Europe: Spain
In the Americas: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Uruguay, Venezuela, United States.
In Africa: Equatorial Guinea.
The Russian language spans Eurasia, and is the most widely spoken of the Slavic languages with 144 million native speakers in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. It is also an important second language in many emerging and frontier economies in the CIS states and Eastern Europe.
Although Russia isn’t currently a fast-growing economic superpower, it has a number of wealthy oligarchs who are spending big money around the world. However, it is also one of the hardest languages to learn on this list. So if you’re up for a challenge, or looking to do business in Russia, this may be the language for you!
Where is Russian spoken?
Russia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Serbia, Turkmenkistan, and Uzbekistan.
If successfully ordering a cocktail while sitting in the sun on Copacabana Beach doesn’t make you want to learn Portuguese, maybe Brazil’s emerging market will?
Portuguese may not naturally come to mind when you think of global business languages, but Portuguese is the official language of Brazil’s growing 200 million population.
Portuguese is also the official language in a number of African nations, some of which could be long-term frontier market plays. Usually listed as the 6th most natively spoken language in the world with 260 million speakers and listed third-most spoken European language in the world in terms of native speakers.
Need a Portuguese Translation service? Head here.
Where is Portuguese spoken?
In Europe: Portugal, small communities in Spain, France, and Luxembourg
In Africa: Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Mozambique, São Tomé and Príncipe
In the Americas: Brazil
In Asia: East Timor and Macau