In a perfect world, no two people should face the kind of communication-related issues that make it impossible to understand each other. But, there is no such thing as a perfect world. In this world, we have almost eight billion people spread across 195 countries speaking more than 7000+ languages.
For businesses and business-oriented individuals, the language diversity that exists in this imperfect world must be viewed as a solvable problem rather than an unsolvable one. Business people who take active steps to become better communicators and learn new non-native languages are the ones who will reach a higher level of success in these times of globalization.
One thing to remember about the interplay of language and business is that there are languages that are more popular than others. The higher a language’s popularity, the more relevant it is — in business. This is because popular languages give their speakers access to a wider market, opens up more opportunities, and ultimately increases chances of success.
In the remaining parts of this article, we’ll show the most popular languages in the world of business today while sharing some information about what makes them so popular and relevant.
1. English Language
It should come as no surprise that English takes the top spot on this list. Not many languages embody the concept of globalization as well as the English Language — because it is the most spoken and widely acknowledged language in the world. There are at least 1.3 billion English speakers around the world spread across all the continents. English is recognized as the official language in more than fifty-five countries. That’s a lot of exposure for business people who speak English fluently.
It’s not just that English is spoken by so many people, it’s also the fact that many of the country’s with strong economies recognize English. In the most developed continent in the world — Europe — English is spoken by more than 200 million of the continent’s 700+ million inhabitants. Even in Asia, English is well-accepted as a second language and has more than 450 million speakers. It’s the same for Africa.
English also takes the top spot as the language of science and as the language of the Internet.
In China, Mandarin is the most widely spoken language. Mandarin is spoken by roughly 879 million native speakers and 193 million people as a second language. Mandarin is spoken by 1.05 billion people worldwide, making it one of the greatest business languages to learn.
China has one of the world’s largest economies with an adjusted nominal GDP of $14.34 trillion. Many of the world’s largest corporations are headquartered in China, including Alibaba, QZone, Sina Weibo, and others. Because China is so particular about its culture, having a rudimentary understanding of the language can help with trade.
China’s economy has grown by 10% on average over the last 30 years, making it the world’s largest manufacturing and export network. In 2020, China’s economy created more than 11 million jobs.
Needless to say, any language that is highly regarded in a powerful economy like China gains global relevance by default.
Mandarin is also spoken in Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Singapore, in addition to China. Furthermore, all of these countries’ economies are rapidly expanding, both in terms of production and purchasing power.
More than 525 million people speak Spanish globally — including a sizable chunk of non-native Spanish speakers. Spanish is spoken in several countries including but not limited to Spain, Mexico, the United States of America, Colombia, Argentina, and Chile.
Except for Spain and Equatorial Guinea, every other country that has Spanish as its official language is in the Americas — in both the North and South.
Good knowledge of the Spanish language is a very valuable tool for businesses operating on the Northern and Southern American continents.
As the language of the Middle East and North Africa. In the Middle East, Arabic is essential to businesses in the oil and gas, construction, and tourism sectors.
Learning the Arabic language paves a path for easy communication with the 450+ million Arabic speakers around the world. You’d have very little problems tapping into the booming economy that Arabic-speaking countries are now experiencing.
Arabic is also very useful in international diplomacy. In trying to bridge the gap between Western countries and Middle Eastern ones, international organizations are sending in more people to strengthen business and political relationships with organizations in the Middle East.
It’s hard to see how Arabic will not grow in relevance in the future.
Germany is a powerhouse in scientific research and development. The country has a massive budget dedicated to the improvement of science. That is why Germany is one of the world’s biggest contributors to the advancement of science.
As a direct consequence of Germany’s impact on science, the German language enjoys prominence among scientists. There are several scientific journals that are originally published in German. Germany is also very instrumental to the global mobility industry.
The German language is spoken by approximately 130 million speakers.
Each of these languages increases exposure to millions of people. In business, that is as relevant as everything else.
Learning from scratch (or mastering) a language could be one one of the best tips for any entrepreneur as the ability to communicate in any of the popular business languages, in addition to your native language can be a game-changer for your business.