Speaking multiple languages is a benefit in many circumstances. However, in business, being bilingual is necessary. Although most business people speak English around the world, many of your consumers might not. It is beneficial to you, as a business person, to be able to talk to people in their language. This allows for a deeper connection and understanding during business discussions.
Behind English, Spanish is one of the best languages to learn if you are in business. Spanish is widely spoken with over 425 million Spanish speakers worldwide, 35 million in the United States alone. By learning Spanish, you can broaden your market. If you want to learn Spanish, it's one of the easier languages to learn. Being a romance language, it is similar to English. English actually draws many of its words from Spanish. Of all the languages listed in this article, Spanish is by far the most beneficial and easiest to learn.
The second-best language to learn for business is Mandarin. This is the language a majority of China speaks. With over one billion people speaking Mandarin, it's an obvious choice. China is also a forerunner in business. If you want to expand worldwide or simply manufacture in China, it is helpful to learn Mandarin. This is a challenging language to learn because it uses a completely different alphabet than what English or Spanish speakers are used to. There are over 50,000 characters in Mandarin. However, an educated business person would probably only know about 8,000. Regardless, learning an entirely new language, grammar, and writing system is a challenge.
Speaking of challenging, behind Mandarin, Arabic is the second most challenging language for English speakers to learn. Arabic has many different dialects, so when learning Arabic, you need to decide which you would like to learn. Most dialects are able to understand each other, but some are vastly different. There are only 28 Arabic characters to learn, but the Arabic sentence structure is different from English. Many times, the verb will come first in a sentence, which can be challenging to get used to. In addition, written Arabic often omits the vowels making it challenging for English speakers to read. However, the Middle East is a business powerhouse. Understanding and speaking Arabic will give you and your business a leg up in the international world.
Russian, another challenging language to learn for English speakers, is an excellent choice for business people. Russia is a business powerhouse, and it's beneficial to be able to speak and understand Russian. That said, Russian is in the top five hardest languages to learn for English speakers. Russian uses a Cyrillic alphabet which has some familiar letters, but some of those familiar letters are pronounced much differently than in English. Another challenge is grammar. In Russian, the verb "to be" is commonly dropped. English speakers use "to be" verbs to create simple sentences, so this can be extremely challenging for new language learners.
Finally, Portuguese is an up-and-coming language for business people. Brazil is quickly becoming a business powerhouse, so learning Portuguese now may be beneficial in the long term. Portuguese is similar to Spanish, making it relatively easy for English speakers to learn. That said, it is still challenging. Brazil is the largest country in South America and has a large influence on the region as a whole. Brazil, is also becoming independent in terms of fuel and other business ventures. For that reason, if you want to do business with Brazil it is important to learn Portuguese, not only as a sign of respect but to be able to do any sort of business deal.
Although learning a new language is not necessary for business people, it is very beneficial. Speaking someone else's native language shows respect and can make an excellent first impression. When it comes to language acquisition, the best advice is to immerse yourself in that language. Learning a new language as an adult can be extremely challenging, but language immersion is proven the best way to quickly learn and retain a new language.