As the face of international business changes, so do the languages used to communicate. Shifts in economic strength have certainly impacted the most popular languages used to communicate within international business, and it certainly has impacted the popularity of enrollments in second language courses in colleges and universities. Though it may be difficult to predict exactly how learning a second language will impact your overall earnings, there is little doubt that it does help to improve your overall employability.
Spanish is the second-most commonly spoken language after English within the United States. For this reason, getting a good job within any customer service-related industry is almost certainly tied to your ability to speak Spanish. In fact, Spanish is without a doubt the most popular second language that's taught within the United States. However, supply and demand still applies to second languages. If you're in the running for a job and up against a large number of people who can also speak Spanish, this doesn't necessarily make your resume stand out. However, depending upon your career goals, Spanish is definitely a solid second language to learn in North America, since a large portion of the populations of North, Central and South America speak and use this language in communication. This language is undeniably becoming a popular world language. It is estimated that the ability to speak Spanish could come with a wage increase of about 1.7%.
As many Canadians are probably already aware, there are a large number of native French speakers residing right within North America in addition to a large number of French-speaking colonies worldwide. There are parts of Canada that use French as the primary language of communication, and for this reason, Canadians might particularly wish to learn French since it is a requirement of many jobs within the Canadian government. Additionally, France is a key player within the eurozone, with many representatives of the country holding key positions within the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the United Nations, NATO, UNESCO and a number of other international organizations. It is estimated that the ability to speak French could come with a wage increase of about 2.7%.
Recent years have seen China grow to become one of the world's largest trading nations. Along with this, the demand for Chinese-speaking businesspeople has also grown. Mandarin is the official and most widely spoken language within China, though there are also a number of other Chinese dialects that are also spoken within the country. Mandarin is one of the official languages of the United Nations.
As the economic strength of the Middle East becomes more and more apparent, the demand for Arabic language skills has also increased. In fact, it is estimated that enrollments in Arabic language classes have increased by more than 100% in recent years. This is also one of the six official languages of the United Nations and is the native language of roughly 25 countries. Additionally, there is a shortage of people in North America who can speak Arabic, so skills in this language are in short supply.
American Sign Language
It is estimated that as many as 28 million people suffer from some degree of hearing loss within the United States. Based on these figures alone, learning American Sign Language, or ASL, could prove to be a handy skill to add to your resume. Jobs exist in acting as an interpreter for those with hearing loss, or it may simply provide you with an edge up on the competition when applying to a company that makes a strong effort to provide accommodations to minority groups within the workforce.
It is estimated that there are as many as 250 million Russian speakers worldwide. Though the majority of them may live within the Russian borders, there are many who do not. Other Russian speakers reside within many former soviet republics, such as Ukraine, Latvia and Kazakhstan. Russia's economy continues to grow and strengthen as the nation develops further. This means that the country is becoming increasingly involved in international trade, making this an appealing language to those pursuing careers in international business - especially as Russia's land is rich with resources that organizations seek to reap the benefits of. For those interested in learning Russian, they may enjoy a wage increase of about 4% per year.
As the German economy proves to be one of the most strong and stable within the European Union, there is no denying that being able to speak German provides a significant advantage to anyone wanting to pursue international business within the eurozone. Additionally, German is the most widely spoken language within Europe. Not only is Germany one of the most populated countries within Europe, but there are also a large number of German-speaking people within the nearby nations of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Holland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and Switzerland. It is estimated that the ability to speak German could come with a wage increase of about 4%.
Although demand for Portuguese may not currently be at the same level of demand as Spanish, the demand for this language is certainly growing. Portuguese is the official language of Brazil, a developing nation within South America. Economic interest is growing within these emerging economies, and this has largely fueled the increasing demand for Portuguese speakers. In fact, having the ability to speak Portuguese may currently provide a greater benefit than Spanish, since there are fewer individuals in possession of this skill.
The Bottom Line
Learning any second language is sure to provide you with some kind of benefit in the workplace. It can definitely give you an edge that'll keep you in the minds of hiring managers and recruiters alike. When selecting a second language to learn, carefully consider exactly what it is that you hope to gain from learning the language. Is it intended to help you to get a job in international business? Do you want to retire or work overseas? Do you aspire to become an interpreter, or does your nation require a second language to work in government? Let the answers to these questions guide your decision.