10 August 2021

The 10 Most Important Languages for Business in 2021

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Doing business in your client’s native language is key for business success:  72.4% of online consumers are more likely to buy from websites that will have the option to translate to their native language, and it’s the same for signing business deals too.

If you’re looking to expand your business dealings internationally, we’re here to give you a bit of help by listing some critical languages deemed both the most important business languages and the most useful languages to learn for international business in 2021.

And if you’re wanting to learn a new language in a hurry, use our 5 tips to get started.

Useful languages for International Business in 2021

1.   Mandarin

When it comes to native speakers, Chinese dialects, including Mandarin, far surpass any other language in the world. Nearly 1.4 billion people consider a Chinese dialect to be their native tongue. Based on numbers alone, Mandarin is an important language worth learning.

Not only that, but China is a business powerhouse. On the basis of purchasing power parity, China has the largest economy in the world. Since 1979, the country’s real gross domestic product (GDP) has risen sharply. Although annual real GDP growth is expected to slow over the next several years, China is clearly here to stay as a world economic power.

Manufacturing is a large part of China’s economy. The nation has introduced initiatives to increase and modernise its manufacturing capacity by 2025. Even if your company doesn’t have international offices, if you acquire materials from multiple sources, there’s a good chance that you will do business with native Mandarin speakers at some point.

Not only will learning Mandarin help you communicate with Chinese businesses, but this language will come in handy when dealing with people from other countries. Mandarin is an official language of both Taiwan and Singapore, and many people in Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Malaysia speak it as well.


2.   German

Wonder no more why German is the most widely spoken language in Europe. The reason is that Germany remains one of the top economies throughout all of Europe, meaning if you want to do business or have any plans on doing work within this continent, learning how to speak German and read the German language will be vital for your success.

It’s an interesting language to learn because it can often feel like there are too many endings being tacked onto words just so they stay grammatically correct, but once you get a hold on these grammar rules, speaking fluently becomes much easier than expected!


3.   Arabic

Although prosperity varies greatly throughout the Middle Eastern countries, this diverse region contains some of the most economically competitive nations in the world. Among these Arabic speaking countries are Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. In each of those countries, the official spoken language is Arabic.

Altogether, there are over 460 million native Arabic speakers in the world. The majority of them live in or around the Middle East. Learning the Arabic language will help you conduct business in that part of the world. This may be especially important for you if your work deals with oil, banking or telecommunications.

Keep in mind that there are many Arabic dialects. You could choose to study a particular one but learning Modern Standard Arabic should equip you with the tools to  speak Arabic and communicate sufficiently with speakers of multiple dialects.


4.   Spanish

With over 390 million native speakers, the Spanish language is one of the five most common languages in the world. In addition to being an official language in both Spain and Mexico, it’s also an official language in Venezuela, Argentina, Equatorial Guinea, Chile, Peru and a number of other countries.

Being able to speak Spanish isn’t only useful for international business. You can also find plenty of opportunities to use your Spanish skills in the United States.

In the United States, millions of American citizens and residents are Spanish speakers – so it’s an especially important language to learn considering the USA is home to the world’s largest economy and could provide plentiful business opportunities. Many latin America speakers are fluent in the English language as well, but for others, Spanish is their primary language. To effectively connect with this segment of the business world, knowing how to speak Spanish is vital.

You can learn how to roll your R’s like a native Spanish speaker here.

Advertising in Spanish may allow your company to reach new clients and customers. 82 percent of Spanish-English bilingual Hispanics in the U.S. believe that companies should produce ads in Spanish. Doing so may gain you new customers and increase the number of people who are loyal to your brand.

Learning Spanish may also increase your marketability. Recruiters often look for new hires who can speak more than one language. Because of its usefulness in the U.S. and abroad, Spanish fluency is a skill that potential employers will be happy to see on resumes too.


5.   Russian

Only about 30 percent of Russians claim to know some English. A mere 3 percent have achieved English fluency. If you’re doing international business in Russia, you can’t count on the people there being able to speak your preferred language. Instead, you may need to pick up theirs.

Russia boasts one of the world’s largest economies. Mining and manufacturing are some of the top industries, and this massive country is an important source of natural gas and oil for other European countries. The U.S. has maintained permanent normal trade relations with Russia since 2012.

Over 250 million people are native Russian speakers. In addition to Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Kyrgyzstan all list the Russian language as their official language. Russian is also a spoken language in Estonia, the Ukraine, Turkmenistan and elsewhere.


6.   French

Not only is French the native language of about 118 million people, but it’s also an official language of multiple international organizations. These include the International Olympic Committee, the World Trade Organization, Interpol, the United Nations, NATO and the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering.

Many French citizens hold their language in high esteem. Your willingness to speak French during business meetings may give you an advantage in the eyes of native speakers, especially if other competitors don’t know the language.

France is far from the only country in the world where your language skills will come in handy. French is also spoken in Tunisia, Canada, Belgium, Vietnam and a number of other countries.


7.   Japanese

A classic international business language with just over 124 million speakers worldwide? Thats right: we’re talking about none other than Japanese.

If you’re looking for a language to learn and use in order to expand your business, Japanese should be at the top of your list. A language spoken by a small population of people, Japanese has been a dominant language in international trade and interaction since the 1980s.

In terms of business opportunities, Japan is an online high-tech economy with one of the world’s highest consumer purchasing power rates, and in recent years, Japan has become a global leader in technology and innovation which makes it a useful international business language to learn.


8.   Portuguese

With the Brazilian economy on a tear and Portuguese boasting an expansive vocabulary, it’s no wonder companies are catching onto its importance as a business language.

The number of Brazilians with purchasing power has skyrocketed in recent years to 215 million people which makes this language particularly lucrative for any company looking to get ahead quickly – not mentioning Portugal’s significant role economically speaking.

Thanks to these economic relations, the Portuguese language is becoming an increasingly valuable tool for business. The Brazilian economy has seen significant growth, and this means that there are more jobs available in the country with well-paying salaries – a situation which demands fluency in both English and Spanish as well as Portuguese to be successful.


9.   Hindustani

If you’re looking to gain a competitive edge in your business, consider learning the language of over 500 million people. Hindi and Urdu are often considered dialects of one language: Hindustani – the fourth most used language in the world!

Fluency is relatively easy as English proficiency rates are high here; however do not be fooled – this can give many international businesses an incredible advantage that should not go unnoticed!


10. Business English

Unsurprisingly, English is one of the most dominant languages in 2021. Used all over the global economy in an array of international business purposes, in travel, and diplomatic affairs with other countries around the world, English remains the most common language used by the world’s population.

Not only do a majority of the world speak English – many top economies are also English speaking ones like America or Canada, making it a popular language your business needs to know! Additionally, there’s also almost 1 billion non-native speakers who speak some form of English on this planet from all over, including African countries like Nigeria and Egypt.


Does your business need to learn a new language?

As the world becomes increasingly connected, we’re being granted important opportunities to work with businesses around the globe. This is great news for the business world because the more languages you know, the better you’ll be able to communicate with colleagues, clients and associates worldwide.

At Simon and Simon we offer personalised business language training and every language course is carefully designed around your businesses needs and objectives. Find out more about our business language courses, or request your free bespoke quote

The 10 Most Important Languages for Business in 2021
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The 10 Most Important Languages for Business in 2021
Find out what languages companies should learn to stay competitive while expanding their global reach.
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SIMON & SIMON International
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