There thousands of languages in this world, but not all of them are created with equal importance. Some languages are only spoken by a handful of people and will be gone once the speakers die, while others continue to gain speakers every day. Knowing which languages are the most important ones in the workplace can greatly improve your job prospects, as it enables you to communicate with a vastly larger audience. But how do you know which ones to learn and which ones to ignore?
China’s the biggest country in the world in terms of population, and Mandarin is one of the most widely-spoken languages with almost a billion speakers. It’s also a language that keeps growing and growing, and is increasingly used in business and trade. A common misconception about Mandarin Chinese is that it’s hard to learn, but it’s no more difficult than English.
It’s not (yet) this country’s second official language, but it may as well be for all intents and purposes. Spanish has almost half a billion speakers worldwide, is second as a native language only to Mandarin, and can be heard in the Americas, Europe, Africa and the Asia-Pacific region. As well, it’s one of the United Nations’ six official languages, making it a must-learn if you really want to advance your career globally.
Forget about this language being restricted only to Quebec and France; it’s spoken much more widely than that. It’s also one of the United Nations’ official languages, and has reaches in the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. As well, French is an official language in 29 different countries, such as Canada, Switzerland, Belgium and Luxembourg. But the most surprising fact? French is expected to reach 1 billion speakers in just over 40 years.
Say what you will about what’s currently going on between Russia and Ukraine, but it’s hard to argue against United Nations official language #4. There may only be about 150 million speakers worldwide, but that’s enough to put it as the fifth-most spoken language, and in eighth place as having the most native speakers. If you do business in Eastern Europe (i.e. the old Soviet bloc of Ukraine, Macedonia, Poland, Albania, Bulgaria, and others), Canada, Western Europe, and parts of Asia, Africa, Australia and Latin America, knowing this language gives you an edge over your competitors.
Rounding out the list of official languages of the United Nations is Arabic (English is the sixth one), a language with over a quarter of a billion speakers. It’s also one of the oldest languages in the world, making it a testament to how strong its growth has been over the centuries. While you could technically learn how to speak it without knowing how to write it, being able to put pen to paper in Arabic shows you have skills other job prospects don’t.
While there are a large handful of other languages you can pick up, these are the five most common in the world. But even if you choose to step off this list and learn a different one, like German, Italian or Portuguese, you’ll still be boosting your job prospects. Knowing a language (or five!) other than English shows you have brains, dedication and discipline, and those are three highly valued traits every employer looks for.