Today in the 21st century, the world is in many ways becoming smaller all the time. Most companies and organizations either do business on a global scale thanks to the Internet, or at the very least make an effort to reach out to customers and clients from other countries and cultures who speak different languages. Whether you’re interested in expanding your language capabilities for business reasons or simply for your own edification, learning a new language is hugely beneficial. Which languages you choose to speak depends on your own individual situation and business needs, but most linguists would agree that it’s particular helpful to speak some of the languages that are more commonly used throughout the world.
In our technological age, speaking English is essential if for no other reason simply because it is the mainstay language of computers and the Internet. English is also a standard in business and international trade. Some experts estimate that nearly 2 billion people speak English – at least to a limited degree – throughout the world.
: Widely spoken in Spain as well as a multitude of other countries across the globe, Spanish is the native tongue of over 300 million people. Many residents inside the US choose Spanish as a second language because we have such a large population of native Spanish speakers living in the US.
: This language earns a place on our list of most important languages due to sheer numbers – over a billion people throughout the world speak Mandarin Chinese. As China continues to grow in economic strength and political influence, this language will likely become even more widely used in the future.
Although not the most commonly spoken language in the world (usually ranked as 8th), there are roughly 155 million native speakers of Russian. This language is also one of the “official” languages of the United Nations, and it’s likely to become even more important as Russian-speaking countries continue to influence our global economy.
Another official language of the UN is Arabic, which is spoken by approximately 300 million native speakers located in numerous countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Many of these nations will play an increasingly important role in our global economy and international trade in the future, so having a working knowledge of Arabic is bound to be an advantage in business.
Japan’s influences on global economies continue to grow year after year, as well as their expanding dominance in technological industries. Japan may not be the largest country on the planet, but it is arguably one of the most influential – which makes their language important as well.
Of course, this is only a partial list of the most important languages. With over 7,000 currently spoken throughout the world, choosing which languages you should add to your repertoire might seem daunting. But taking into consideration how you plan to use the language should help. We have focused on business needs in this article, but you may simply want to learn new languages for personal growth or pleasure travel, for example. Whatever your motivation might be, learning a new language is a wonderful way to expand your own knowledge and gain a new appreciation for a different culture.