Languages Executives Should Learn

The global expansion of business is ongoing and the need to learn additional languages is moving right alongside it. More and more companies require bilingual employees or at least list it under their “Preferred” section. There’s also the added advantage of understanding how people approach business based on their cultural background or global business experience. After all, much of business is simply understanding how people tick. Naturally, the question arises, “Which languages are most important for you to learn as an American executive?” While there are multiple languages you could learn for a variety of reasons, we’ve done the heavy lifting for you by narrowing it down to the top 4 languages to learn for business.

1. Spanish

Over 70% of US recruiters now rank Spanish as the additional language highest in demand for employment. This has much to do with the growing Hispanic population in the US where they make up over 30% of the population, with a projected 50% growth in the next few decades. Learning Spanish then ensures that you’re connecting to the largest market here in the US as well as abroad. Some of the fastest-growing countries in the world are Spanish-speaking countries such as Mexico and Columbia.

The demand is also reflected across sectors such as Education, which is increasing the demand of Spanish-speaking teachers. This enables more flexible teacher-student communication and enables schools to enact more bilingual programs. Even the healthcare industry is experiencing a rising demand for bilingual professionals and Spanish interpreters for better understanding between patients and their healthcare providers. So the next time you see those Spanish translations on public signs, consider taking the time to understand them or start your journey with useful Spanish phrases for beginners. Take advantage of the resources already all around you.

2. German

Germany’s dominance in science and technology has allowed it to make its mark on the world. As the largest exporter of various goods such as vehicles and metals, it is easy to see why Germany has one of the top economies in the world. This presents a business opportunity for those within these industries. 

German companies like Daimler and Audi are always collaborating with international partners, and speaking their language will make you a more attractive candidate. Germany has also become a mainstay in the world of art, fashion, culture and music. Another reason why millions of tourists flock to the country every year. As one of the most economically vital countries of the European Union (EU), Germany is key to accessing the European market which is one of the most influential regardless of the industry. Learning German will prepare you to access business not just in Germany, but the entire European continent.

3. Mandarin

With China fast-approaching as the world’s largest economy, learning Mandarin is a great step to access its vast market. This includes places such as Hong Kong and Singapore, which are crucial for many global businesses. Overcoming the language barrier is also strategic in showing respect for the culture. Chinese business etiquette is key given the large differences between the Chinese and Western cultures.

Making the effort to learn their language helps to gain their trust, without which you will have a harder time. This process will be made easier since learning Mandarin helps you gain insight into Chinese culture and why they operate the way they do. Then you’ll have a better understanding of how to connect with Chinese associates and consumers. And let’s not forget the things that can get lost in translation. Being heavily dependent on an interpreter can cause a disconnect in the relationship you are trying to build between your Chinese partners. Learning even a few keywords common to your business activities will make a difference by showing your efforts to get closer to them.

4. French

France has one of the world’s largest economies and is a major trading partner for the US. Thirty-one of the 2020 Fortune Global 500 companies are based in France, which include big players like Christian Dior and L’Oréal. About 25% of English words are derived from French. Knowing English makes it easier given that French is one of the easiest languages for English speakers to learn because of the great similarity in vocabulary.

Chances are that as an English speaker, you already know more of the language than you think with the common use of French words such as cuisine, cliché and déjà vu that have all been integrated into the English language. As an official language of 29 countries, French will certainly put you at the forefront of your professional landscape for numerous industries around the world.

Learning a Language for Business

Learning an additional language equates to new opportunities, especially in business. This advantage will continue to grow as the world becomes more connected through globalization. Understanding someone’s language means understanding how they make decisions, which will best inform your decisions. This naturally leads to enhanced critical thinking and problem solving, traits common to all good business professionals. Mastering one or more of these languages could be the gateway to expanding your business’ success and becoming more capable as a business person, a decision you’ll thank yourself for in the long run. Contact us for details on helping employees at your business get fluent in one of these languages!