There are so many good reasons to learn a new language. Language skills are more sought-after than ever in the business world, with the number of bi or multilingual job offerings doubling in the United States alone in a five year period. An official language certification leads to increased job opportunities, instills confidence, and creates a significant professional advantage in the global marketplace.
With an ever-changing economic landscape, how can you know which languages are a good investment in your future? We’ve outlined four of the most useful second languages that you might want to study to improve your footing in the competitive global economy.
Possibly the most useful language you could learn today boasts 435 million native speakers. Spanish is spoken across Europe and the Americas and will open doors for you in established economies such as Spain, Mexico and the United States, as well as in high growth markets like Argentina, Chile and Colombia. It’s also the third most used language online.
Spanish is one of the most common second-languages in the world, perhaps due the relative ease of learning the language for native English speakers. Wikipedia estimates that there are 570 million Spanish speakers in the world, including native speakers, bilinguals and those who speak it as a second language.
In the United States, more than 41 million people – 13% of the population – are native Spanish speakers, along with 12 million native bilinguals, making the US the second-largest Spanish speaking country in the world after Mexico. If the number of Spanish speakers in the US continues to grow at the same rate, studies have predicted that it will be be able to boast the largest Spanish speaking population in the world by 2050.
With so many Spanish language speakers, opportunities for Spanish learners are plenty. Being one of the easiest languages for English speakers to pick up, there’s no excuse not to practice “por favor y gracias” every chance you get.
Mandarin Chinese is the most commonly spoken language in the world. Mandarin boasts over 1 billion native speakers, which accounts to 70% of the population of China, or 14.4% of the entire world’s population.
The demand for Mandarin speakers isn’t going away. According to a 2017 Bloomberg report, the Chinese economy is projected to overtake the United States economy in 2028, meaning that the ample business opportunities for Mandarin speakers will only grow over time.
The biggest downside is how difficult Mandarin Chinese is for English speakers to learn. According to the United States Foreign Service Institute, it takes an average of 2,200 classroom hours for English speakers to master.
With all the benefits it could bring for your future, it might be time to stand up to that challenge.
As one of the six official languages of the United Nations and the fifth most widely spoken language in the world, Arabic might be a great language for your future, especially if you’re interested in working in the Middle East. Arabic is the official language for many emergent economies in the Middle East and North Africa, and is the fourth most common language on the internet.
Knowledge of Arabic might even get you ahead in the tech world. In 2017 alone, local startups in the Persian Gulf raised a combined 2.5 billion euros. Add to that the well-established markets of consumer goods and oil that drive the region’s economy, and you’ve got business opportunities aplenty.
According to the World Economic Forum, Arabic is the 5th most powerful language in the world, and it even made the British Council’s list of important languages, due to the potential economic and diplomatic benefits. If you’ve got your sights set on the Middle East, Arabic is the right language for your studies.
As one of the three official languages of the European Union, the German language has an estimated 110 million native speakers. Germany itself is an economic powerhouse, so it’s only natural that learning German will open doors and new business opportunities, especially if you’re in Europe.
There’s good news for students as well. According to the Goethe Institute “Germany offers more scholarships for international students than any other country —and there are opportunities to study in English or German at both the bachelor’s and master’s level.”
For those interested in inexpensive, quality higher-education, knowledge of the German language might just give you the edge in your studies abroad.
Luckily, German is fairly easy to learn for native English speakers, as the two languages descend from the same root language, meaning you’ll find a lot of similarities and common vocabulary words.
While the earnings bonus for German speakers in the US is still small – only 3.8% according to the Economist, the language itself does provide you with a wealth of opportunities if you consider studying or working abroad at some point in your career.
Whatever language you choose to study, there’s innumerable benefits to having command of a second language. Beyond improving your job opportunities, bilingual and multilingual speakers are better than monolinguals at rational decision making, multitasking and creative teamwork. An official language certification from the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) leads to increased job opportunities, instills confidence, and creates a significant professional advantage in the global marketplace. In partnership with ACTFL, Language Testing International (LTI) provides the industry standard in language proficiency testing.
Now you’ve got enough reasons – it’s time to start studying, practicing and testing!
Since 1992, Language Testing International (LTI) a Samsung Company, and the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), have been offering valid and reliable reading, writing, speaking, and listening tests in more than 120 languages, in more than 60 countries.
LTI administers language assessments to hundreds of thousands of candidates every year and is one of the largest and most respected foreign language proficiency test providers in the world. We offer the highest level of client service as well as convenient online test scheduling and reporting over secure client networks.
Lisa March is a bilingual Marketing and Sales Executive. She works closely with LTI on strategic partnerships, business development and marketing. Her efforts help LTI scale the use and implementation of language assessments in schools, institutions, corporations and government agencies.