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17 January 2024

Which Languages Are in Demand for Business?

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The ability to speak more than one language is incredibly useful for driving expansion and minimising miscommunication in today’s global business network. (If you need further convincing, read this article about why language learning is important in business.) Despite the current business climate being rocked by geopolitical turmoil and economic uncertainty, businesses continue to innovate and expand, and learning a second or third language can be instrumental in increasing your reach overseas.

Last year, English topped the charts for being the best business language to learn. But is that still true today?

American business magazine Fortune recently released its Global 500 list of the world’s biggest companies by revenue. We thought it would be interesting to see which countries house these corporate juggernauts and aim to answer the question: which languages are the most useful and in demand for growing businesses right now?

English Tops the List Again

The world’s biggest company for the tenth year running is the American retail giant Walmart. And in line with that, the world’s most popular language in business is still English, according to Statista. Nearly 1.5 billion people speak English, either as their first or second language, and nearly a quarter of the world’s countries boast English as their official language. In addition, English is the predominant language of technology, medicine and international business.

English is also often the ‘lingua franca’, or bridging language, that enables fluent communication between business associates from different countries. This article explains in further detail why English is the language of choice for commerce, and still holds the crown for being the best business language to learn today.

The Advantages of Arabic

Second in the Fortune list is Saudi Aramco, the country’s oil giant. Although Arabic only comes in sixth place in Statista’s list of most spoken languages, it is a very popular language to learn because of Arabic’s importance in business, especially in industries relating to energy, construction and finance. And perhaps we should add sport to the list after Saudi Arabia’s recent acquisitions of and investments in various sports, including cycling, golf and, of course, football!

The Middle East is currently welcoming rapidly increasing numbers of global investors, and learning Arabic could be a smart move for your staff if this is an area of the world that your business is looking to expand into.

Checking Out Chinese

Third on Fortune’s list is the Chinese state-owned electricity company State Grid, the largest utility company in the world, with nearly 2 million employees. And Mandarin Chinese is second only to English in terms of the number of speakers, coming in at 1.138 billion according to Statista. That’s 1 in 6 of the global population! China has the second largest economy in the world (after the United States), with a GDP of US$19.37 trillion. So, it is no surprise that Mandarin Chinese is in high demand as a language to learn for international business.

If you are interested in gaining a competitive edge by learning Mandarin, this article can help you get started.

The Runners-up

English, Arabic and Mandarin are not the only languages useful for business, of course. Let’s consider a couple of the runners-up.

Germany boasts two of the top 20 biggest companies by revenue in the Fortune list (Volkswagen and Uniper in case you were wondering). Although not as widely spoken as other languages we mention in this article, with around 130 million speakers, German is a useful second or third language to learn because Germany is such a powerhouse both politically and economically, especially in the manufacturing industries.

Spanish may not be front of mind when thinking about the language of business, but consider that the United States is the world’s largest economy, one in five Americans identify as Hispanic and the US is now the second-largest Spanish-speaking country in the world. Not to mention the potential business opportunities in South American countries, such as Argentina, Peru, Venezuela and Chile, all of which claim Spanish as their official language. Perhaps learning Spanish could benefit your company after all.

If you are looking to grow your business in any of these countries, or perhaps to attract the attention of such record-breaking corporate giants, contact us today. We can help you achieve your goal of enabling your staff to communicate more fluently with business associates around the world – bringing your business the potential to develop new opportunities for growth and international success.

 

 

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