It might sound strange to hear that employers prefer job candidates who can speak more than one language for reasons other than using that language for business. But only until you find out that studies show people who are bilingual tend to be well-organized and efficient multi-taskers. Critical thinking and problem-solving are two more professional qualities speakers of more than one language have to their credit.
Those advantages are incidental to a more pertinent reason that employers actively recruit speakers of other languages. If you can speak another language, it’s likely you’re also familiar with the customs and culture attached to that tongue. English is the language of business, as well as aviation and science.
So there’s a good chance that business partners outside of any English-speaking country can communicate well enough in English to conduct business. However, knowing the target country’s business culture is invaluable.
To that, you can add the respect companies show to prospective business partners by speaking with them in their language. Entering new markets – even keeping a place in an already-established market is challenging. So employers need to find speakers of these languages to make those ventures successful. Which languages are companies looking for?
The Perennial Top Two
Mandarin and Spanish are givens but not just because they’re the world’s most widely spoken languages. Unlike Spanish speakers, the bulk of Mandarin speakers lives in China. By contrast, Spanish is spoken in more than 20 countries, some of which are emerging markets. Also, Spanish is the unofficial second language in the US. It behooves any business that wants to grow its Spanish-speaking client base to hire workers who can speak that language.
As for China, that nation is perhaps the most economically stable and powerful right now. Their might is set to grow, especially if the Chinese continue developing their Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Professionals who can speak Mandarin as a second language are already in high demand. Despite all the press claiming the contrary, China welcomes foreign businesses and investors.
Did you know that France has a government agency dedicated to preserving the purity of the French language? The centuries-old Académie Française actively resists any attempt to Anglicise the French language. Furthermore, the 1994 Tourbon Law requires the use of French in all government publications, workplaces, and commercial contracts.
That doesn’t mean that nobody conducts business in English while in France, only that all documentation, adverts, and employee relations must be in French. France is the world’s sixth-largest economy and is ranked in the Top Ten most innovative countries. Certainly, it’s a beguiling market. Any employer planning to do business in that country will prioritize job candidates with French lessons listed on their CV.
Let’s leave aside all of the current sentiment toward Russia to examine what learning Russian could do for your career. First, consider a government position in the Foreign Office or intelligence agencies. You might serve in the defense of British interests at home and abroad, working with partners in other nations. Or you could serve as a member of the diplomatic corps.
Learning Russian will also serve you well if you’d rather work for a commercial venture. In European Union countries such as Latvia and Estonia, many people still speak Russian even though it’s no longer considered one of the countries’ official languages. In less developed nations such as Kyrgyzstan, Russian is a co-official language. Any company with dealings there must have employees who can speak either Russian or Kyrgyz.
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Unlike the French, Germans have no qualms about using English in their daily lives and at work. The language of Goethe is full of English loanwords, from der Komputer to das Coaching. For as vast as the influx of English words has been, you still stand a better chance to land der Job if you can speak Deutsch.
Only recently (in the 1940s) has English supplanted German as the language of science, literature, and art. Your chance at any job related to those fields, from those in the pharmaceutical industry to museum curator, would be higher if you could speak German. If you’re an engineer of any type, you should make learning this language a priority.
Granted, native Japanese speakers mostly live in Japan. But then, some of the world’s most progressive, inventive tech companies have their homes there, too. Japan’s Kansai and Kanto regions are industry hubs, producing everything from hybrid cars to service robots. This country’s current economic worries aside, Japan remains the world’s third-largest economy.
Learning Japanese has one more strong selling point: it is the third-most-spoken language on the internet. Since the coronavirus pandemic, businesses have been arduously working to increase their virtual presence. Which enterprise could afford to pass up the Japanese market? This language might be one of the most challenging to learn. But your marketability will soar if you can master the Japanese grammar and writing system.
Arabic and English share a common characteristic. Those languages’ names belie the fact that each has several dialects, all of which may not be easily understood. For instance, an Australian English speaker might find it hard to understand what an American English speaker is saying. The same applies to Arabic speakers. The Arabic spoken in Egypt might confound an Arabic speaker in Tunisia or Saudi Arabia.
Fortunately for language learners, studying Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) provides a pathway to employment as an Arabic speaker. As though east Asian nations didn’t have enough economic incentives with their vast oil reserves, China’s Belt and Road Initiative brings Arabic-speaking nations even further into the center of economic activity.
Thus, it should come as no surprise that, for the last few years, companies have been actively recruiting Arabic speakers. Learning MSA could make you a valuable hire for any journalistic enterprise or engineering concern. With such language skills, you may consider working with a non-government organization (NGO). You might even pursue a career as a government-affiliated diplomat.