The Bilingual Entrepreneur

Digital connectivity has changed the way we do business. As we become more interconnected and technology savvy, we are seeing the world become smaller as countries are becoming more dependent on each other. Global travel has become fast and easy, which makes it more important for entrepreneurs to become aware and adaptive to different cultures.

Global trade has also changed, it has become easier to buy and sell goods around the world. Technology has made it easier for entrepreneurs to connect with suppliers, partners, and customers and helped business truly grow to its full potential, and open doors to markets that might otherwise have remained out of reach.

In such a global environment, it is important for entrepreneurs to understand the importance of learning a foreign language. Nearly 80% of business leaders surveyed believe their overall business would increase notably if they had more internationally competent employees on staff and knew how to speak at least one foreign language.

As an entrepreneur, while looking at learning a foreign language for the purposes of business, one needs to look at which ones will best fit their needs. Here is a list of the top 5 most languages all global-minded CEOs should be learning.

1. Spanish

Spanish has official status in 21 South American countries and also the official language of Puerto Rico. Spanish is also now the second most popular language at A-level after French, having overtaken German in 2005. Mexico has over 20 per cent of all first language Spanish speakers, while the USA, with 30–40 million native speakers of Spanish, is the country with the largest Spanish speaking minority.

2. Arabic

Arabic is a Semitic language. With over 230 million native speakers and a further 100–200 million people across northern Africa and western Asia for whom it is their second language. It also ranks as the fourth most widely spoken language in the world. Arabic is used as an official language of the United Nations, International Criminal Court, African Union, Arab League amongst others.

3. French

Popularly know as the Romance language, French is spoken by more than 70 million people as their first language, although it is estimated that a further 100–200 million people around the world speak French as a second language. Also, in terms of internet usage, French is currently the language of choice for 60 million users, making it the eighth most widely used language on the internet.

4. Mandarin Chinese

The language with official status in China, Taiwan, and Singapore, Mandarin Chinese (Putonghua), is the most widely spoken in the world with 800 million speakers, mostly in China. By 2020, China will be one of four countries accounting for over half of the world’s population of 18–22 year olds making it a priority country for international education.

5. German

It is one of the working languages of the EU and an official language of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. German is the sixth most common language on the internet, with more than 75 million users.

Reference: Languages of the future.

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