Learning a language can be quite the task, as it takes a lot of dedication and will. What you don’t want to do is begin learning a language and then find that your time would’ve been better spent elsewhere. Read our handy guide to find out which languages will best help you once you start looking for a job.
Being the most spoken language in the world will, believe it or not, help a little bit with communication. With around 900 million native speakers, and over 1 billion speakers in total, there is no greater language, in terms of number of potential chatting buddies, to learn.
However, there are some drawbacks to learning Mandarin. Firstly, as you may have noticed, a huge percentage of those that speak the language live in China. Now this isn’t a problem if you’re planning to move there, but it should be noted that ‘only’ around 200 million speakers of the language live elsewhere. In short, there are more efficient languages to learn for breadth of communication.
Secondly, it is difficult to learn. As with any language in which you have to learn a new alphabet, there is an added level of challenge. The Chinese language has a staggering 80,000 characters to learn! Luckily, you only need to know 3,500 in Standard Chinese, and can get by with around 1,000 of the most frequent (this will get you about 90% of the way through a newspaper).
Now don’t let any of this put you off, as Mandarin is a wonderful, useful and may be a little easier to learn than it sounds. The grammar is simple compared to say, English, and has far fewer syllable formations to learn. It’s not easy, certainly, but it’s far from impossible.
One final point that is worth consideration: It has long been thought that China, currently a world superpower, will soon overtake the United States as the most powerful nation in the world. If and when that does happen, it may be quite valuable knowing how to speak the language. Just saying.
Keeping with the theme of valuable business languages, Arabic is a growing voice in the community and a very valuable one at that. The wealth of countries that have Arabic as a primary language is well noted and as such, their economic acumen is growing in stature.
As a consequence of the fast rise of the Arabic nations in the world of trade, there is something of a dearth of people capable of appropriately translating or engaging in Arabic and other more commonly spoken business languages. Less than one percent of US students study the language, despite the huge demand for it. Learning Arabic will therefore make you stand out (in a good way) to prospective employers.
That’s not to say that Arabic isn’t commonly spoken, however. It is the fifth most popular language in the world, being the official language of over 20 countries- there are over 300 million native speakers. And they all live in economically vital and vibrant countries.
You may have noticed that Arabic speaking countries tend to be in the news quite a lot as some are in a very culturally sensitive moment. There are ample opportunities then, to be of enormous use to a region that is capable of being incredibly wealthy and is in desperate need of well-spoken, communicative people to aid with the challenges of the area.
To be expected wasn’t it? English is well appreciated in the business community in part because of how widespread it is. As a consequence of the Industrial Revolution, the USA, the UK and countries in Western Europe such as France, Spain and the Netherlands, got a head start in the business arena and with the US and Britain covering such a large landmass, the primary language of business has come to be English. Like it or love it, that’s just the way it is, unfortunately.
English can often be found to be a little difficult to learn, partly due to the fact it has such a wide variety of historic influences. Modern English can be said to have originated around 1500 years ago, when a Germanic tribe called the Angles brought their language to what we now call England.
Taking on parts of Latin, thanks to the Romans who lived there before them, as well as the French who invaded after, followed by a major change in how English was pronounced, as well as the influence and genius of hundreds of years’ worth of renowned writers including Chaucer, Shakespeare and Milton, then of course standardization as a consequence of the printing press, then all the unique dialects and pronunciations and forms, it is easy to see why English can be a bit of a mess sometimes.
However, despite all of English’s weird customs and rules (this is a perfectly fine sentence in English: ‘Through tough thorough thought though’), there can be a definite beauty and poeticism to it.
And it is, of course, an incredibly useful tool for the business arena and for later life. It feels almost redundant to say, but in a globalised world, business communication requires a shared language, and while this language changes from situation to situation, English is always near or at the top of the list.
Bonus. Computer Programming Languages
Perhaps a slightly odd consideration, but one that is well worth considering when deciding upon which language to study.
There is a growing threat to the world’s economy (no, not that one), widely known as (not that either) automation. A blessing and a curse for the development of the economy, robots are more and more frequently taking jobs previously held by hard working men and women.
Overall, this is good as it allows businesses more profits to invest in society (in theory). The eventual hope is that most jobs will eventually be automated, and people will be granted a living wage, allowing the populace more time to make songs, find cool hobbies, fall in love and all that great stuff.
The bad side is that these are two big hurdles to jump. There will undoubtedly be a period of time in which large numbers of people become unemployed as governments across the world have to reorganise society.
One simple way to avoid this tragedy, personally, is to learn a computer programming language! (brought it back around eventually). Someone needs to teach those robots what to do and why not you? It’s just a bonus that you’ll be able to watch the cataclysmic collapse of society from a top floor window. Only (kinda) joking.