If you’re reading this blog now it is probably safe to say you are interested in learning languages and understand the benefits and importance in being multilingual, but which five languages should you learn and why should you learn those?
1. Mandarin – you don’t have to be a Firefly fan to know that Chinese language, or Putonghua, is likely to be an even more major thing in the future. There’s already 1.6 billion speakers and that number is sure to increase as China itself expands its reach. China is already a land of opportunity for those willing and able to make a move there, whether it be to teach English to the locals or to start a business there or partner with someone or just expand your business into the enormous Chinese market.
2. Portuguese – apart from Portugal it is of course the language spoken in Brazil and what is happening in Brazil fairly soon? The World Cup for a start – biggest football tournament on the planet! Followed by the Olympics – biggest sporting event on the planet! Two huge reasons to learn the local lingo right there but they are not the only reasons – Brazil is also a hotbed of opportunity for tech (and other) business startups who can get in there early(ish) and dominate the local market (which is already huge) then expand globally from there.
3. Spanish – with hundreds of millions of speakers around the world from Spain itself to South and Central America, not to mention a sizable Spanish speaking population in North America, this is clearly a language with a lot of influence and learning this along with your native language is sure to open many doors both personal and professional.
4. Arabic – there’s an enormous number of Arabic speakers in the world and arab countries have been central in many of the wars in recent years. Some consider it a clash of civilizations between the arab/muslim world and the western/christian world, in some way almost a return to the crusades. Of course it is much more complex than that with so many historical artifacts and age old disputes over territory and more, along with dictatorships rising and falling, popular revolutions and all mixed in with the much needed oil.. a recipe for disaster!
What this means is that populations are moving more than ever before.. arab speakers migrating to the west to escape the endless wars and tyranny, westerners heading to the oil rich states for lucrative business contracts and high paid jobs, not to mention the military jobs in all sorts of strange places. As if all that wasn’t enough, on top of that the web has broken down the barriers between people across the world so the opportunities to engage in conversations (and fights!) online are greater than ever.
5. English! Well chances are if you are reading this that you already speak it so you are ahead of the game. Either way English is clearly the most useful language to speak these days and probably for many years to come, thanks in no small part to the old British Empire spreading its reach around the globe before it collapsed leaving a legacy of English speakers pretty much everywhere.
Of course you don’t have to learn all five languages right now, do one at a time and of course the one which is most useful to you at that time and naturally the most important 5 to learn can change or vary depending on your circumstances as well as other factors. But it certainly wont hurt to learn the basics in all five of these so you can make the most of the foreign language opportunities and events coming up!