Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on January 5, 2021

7 Best Languages to Learn in Order to Stay Competitive

7 Best Languages to Learn in Order to Stay Competitive

While learning any language is going to be beneficial for your career and your personal life, some are more important than others. Aspects of what determines the best languages to learn and how important a language is globally include:

  • Number of potential speakers
  • Growth of native speakers
  • Economic power of countries that speak the language

Today, I’m going to share with you the best languages to learn to stay competitive in the job market.

1. Mandarin

More than a billion people can be reached once you learn how to speak Mandarin Chinese. It’s not the easiest language for English speakers to learn, but the upside is worth the effort.

The number of multinational companies that are looking for executives who speak Mandarin has risen by 35% from previous years. Most importantly, China is set to be the world’s #1 economic powerhouse.

Advertising

Beyond the major benefits, learning Mandarin could provide for your professional life, it’s likely that wherever you go, there will be native Mandarin speakers you can build relationships with as it’s one of the most widely spoken languages.

2. German

Germany has the highest GDP in Europe[1], and many are flocking to the country seeking new careers. According to The Economist[2], knowing how to speak German will offer the highest reward in bonuses compared to learning how to speak Spanish or French. That fact alone makes it one of the best languages to learn this year.

  • Spanish — 1.5 percent bonus
  • French — 2.3 percent bonus
  • German — 3.8 percent bonus

Accumulated language bonuses

    3. Portuguese

    Portuguese is not only spoken in Portugal, but also in Brazil, one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Not only that, but it’s spoken in 10 countries from South America to Africa, making it one of the best languages to learn by 2020.

    Advertising

    Because Portuguese is the 5th most spoken language in the world, you can be reassured that there will be plenty of people you can practice with once you get going.

    We should note that Portuguese skills aren’t in demand as much as Spanish skills are, but the demand is definitely growing. Depending on where you plan to travel or the reason for learning it, you should make note of the difference between Portuguese from Portugal versus Portuguese from Brazil.

    4. Spanish

    If you live in the United States, then you’ll know that learning how to speak Spanish is not only a “nice-to-have,” but a “must-have” skill. From entertainment to the number of native speakers and career demands, learning Spanish is one of the best investments you can make as an English speaker[3].

    Today, more than 400 million people in Latin America and elsewhere are Spanish speakers. This number is expected to rise to 500 million or more shortly. It’s up to you to take advantage of the opportunity.

    Advertising

    5. Arabic

    Arabic is spoken by over 300 million people throughout 57 countries around the world. What makes Arabic especially important is the economic wealth that Arabic countries hold, with over $600 billion in GDP.

    Knowing how to speak Arabic is the golden key to entering the Middle Eastern economy, which has one of the youngest and fastest-growing populations in the world. It also has the largest repository of oil and gas in the world and is one of the top ten holders of US treasuries[4]. All of this means that the Middle East has a lot of room to grow and looks to be well on its way to doing so.

    Fair warning though…while Arabic is definitely one of the best languages to learn, it is known to be one of the most difficult for English speakers.

    6. Russian

    Russia may appear to be isolated from the rest of the world at first glance, but it does have one of the largest economies in the world and many business opportunities. It’s a major economic player in Eastern Europe, and you’ll be able to find many people speaking the language wherever you go around the world, including the United States.

    Advertising

    Learning Russian will be especially useful if you work in the oil and gas industries, or in hospitality, as these are two of the biggest industries in Russia[5].

    7. Hindi

    Even if you don’t have the desire to go live in India, the number of speakers alone (500 million plus) should convince you to learn the language. More importantly, we’ll see a surge in economic growth as more and more jobs are outsourced to India and as Hindi entertainment (like Bollywood) catches on in Western countries. This is one of the best languages to learn as an investment in the future.

    The Bottom Line

    Whatever language you decide to learn in order to stay competitive, it’s important to note that demand for bilingual workers has more than doubled in recent years, and that demand doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon[6]. Learning a language takes time and dedication, but the effort will be entirely worth it.

    More Language Learning Tips

    Featured photo credit: Kate Kalvach via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Sean Kim

    Sean is the founder and CEO of Rype, a language learning app. He's an entrepreneur and blogger.

    7 Best Languages to Learn in Order to Stay Competitive 15 New Year’s Resolution Ideas to Make This Year Your Best Year What’s the Easiest Language to Learn for English Speakers? 7 Hardest Languages to Learn For English Speakers How to Learn Anything Fast? Take These 5 Powerful Steps

    Trending in Language

    1 7 Best Languages to Learn in Order to Stay Competitive 2 What’s the Easiest Language to Learn for English Speakers? 3 7 Hardest Languages to Learn For English Speakers 4 9 Free Language Learning Apps That Are Fun to Use 5 7 Best Language Learning Apps and Websites

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on January 15, 2021

    7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

    7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

    The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

    Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

    Posture

    First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

    • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
    • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
    • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
    • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

    All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

    Facial Expressions

    Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

    • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
    • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
    • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

    If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

    Advertising

    1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

    A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

    The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

    This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

    2. Relax Your Face

    New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

    The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

    To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

    Advertising

    3. Improve Your Eye Contact

    Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

    The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

    To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

    3. Smile More

    There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

    Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

    4. Hand Gestures

    Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

    Advertising

    It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

    5. Enhance Your Handshake

    In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

    “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

    It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

    6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

    As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

    Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

    Advertising

    Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

    Final Takeaways

    Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

    If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

    More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

    Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

    Reference

    Read Next