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.
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.
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.
Germany has the highest GDP in Europe, and many are flocking to the country seeking new careers. According to The Economist, 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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. Learning a language takes time and dedication, but the effort will be entirely worth it.
More Language Learning Tips
- 7 Best Language Learning Apps and Websites
- How to Learn a New Language Fast (A Step-By-Step Guide)
- 7 Hardest Languages to Learn For English Speakers
Featured photo credit: Kate Kalvach via unsplash.com
|||^||Statista: Gross domestic product (GDP) at current market prices of selected European countries in 2019|
|||^||The Economist: Johnson: What is a foreign language worth?|
|||^||Omniglot: Benefits of learning Spanish for career advancement|
|||^||Atlantic Council: The Middle East is a growing marketplace, not just a war zone|
|||^||WorldAtlas: What are the Biggest Industries in Russia?|
|||^||Lead With Languages: REPORT SHOWS DEMAND FOR BILINGUAL WORKERS IN U.S. MORE THAN DOUBLED|