As the second most spoken language in the world behind Mandarin and even in front of English, the global language, it should come as no surprise that Spanish features top of this list. Spanish is a top worked with language in many translation agencies and has an enormous market across the world, thanks to its 410 million speakers across Spain, central and South America and Equatorial Guinea. Aside from this astounding fact, the emergent economic powerhouses of Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Peru and Colombia all contribute to the value of learning Spanish for business purposes. Moreover, due to the fact it’s a Romance language and shares roots with English, it’s a lot easier to learn than a language such as Mandarin.
This one might come as more of a surprise. It seems that Portuguese appears to be on the rise with the demand for translation of the language ever increasing. However, it is not so much Portugal in the limelight, but Brazil, which has gone from an emerging economy to one of the richest world nations. It’s a big country with lots of natural resources, a huge population and a growing tech community, making it the ideal place to mix with locals and engage in work matters. It’s also home to carnival, so there’s plenty of reasons to consider learning Portuguese as part of your next business (ad) venture!
It’s the most prevalent language in the world, with hundreds of different languages and dialects. Mandarin is the most widely spoken of these and therefore is widely accepted as Standard Chinese, often simply referred to as just “Chinese”. There are approximately 1.1 billion native speakers of Mandarin, even though the other dialects are still spoken by hundreds of millions of people. If the financial hub of Shanghai, China’s largest city by population is your destination of choice, you may want to pick up the “Wu” dialect, spoken by some 80 million people there. And just in case you didn’t already know, China represents the second largest economy, the largest exporter of goods and the fastest growing major economy in the world.
Russian (like Portuguese and Spanish) is not only spoken in the country of origin, but also across the post Soviet states, including: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine, totalling almost 300 million speakers in total. Russia is a vast country with a wealth of natural resources and a rapidly expanding IT sector. It actually represents the largest market in Europe, with 150 million people and a language that is becoming increasingly translated. If you are setting up a business there, or moving for your job, learning Russian will go a long way in helping you win over the trust and confidence of local business leaders. Also, if you’re a fan of Russian literary masters Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, you will eventually be able to read their great works in their original versions.
Arabic is the fifth most spoken language in the world, with hundreds of millions of speakers worldwide. E-commerce and online culture are growing in demand in the Arab world, and without an Amazon or Alibaba to assist in online shopping, there is clearly a huge gap in the market. However, they do have a vast petroleum industry and a fast growing market for trade, so those with knowledge of Arabic will undoubtedly have an advantage over those who don’t. Like Chinese, Arabic also comes in many different forms and varieties, so the task at hand if you commit yourself to learning it is first choosing the right one!
German is one of the most translated languages, reflecting the country’s status as Europe’s largest economy and one of the strongest in the world. This fact alone should encourage you to consider German in your multilingual repertoire. The language is spoken by 78 million people within Germany, but is widely learnt and spoken across many parts of Europe, with approximately 95 to 100 million people speaking it in total, making it a dominant language in business, culture, history, literature, philosophy and theology. Countries that represent German speaking majorities are Germany, Austria and Switzerland and those where German is spoken in minorities include: Liechtenstein, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Italy, Hungary, Romania, Poland, Slovenia and Namibia.