For most people who want to learn a new language, English remains the first choice and for good reason: being the official language of politics, business and popular culture, spoken fluently by around 1.5 billion people (and with another billion studying it), English is the “language of the world”. But besides English, what other languages can help you make your way?
Here are five languages to learn to stand out from the crowd, in random order:
With over 200 million native speakers (estimated to become 335 by 2050), Portuguese is spoken in 11 countries and regions, including some African nations, Goa (in India) and, of course, in Portugal and Brazil. Considering that Brazil will host the Olympic Games (and has just hosted the World Cup), this South American giant is undoubtedly a rising star. For more experienced polyglots, adding Brazilian Portuguese to your CV can mean a strategic step towards greater employability in Latin America, not to mention the sun, cuisine and samba in delightful Brazil! Do you need more motivation? Portuguese is not particularly difficult to learn, especially if you already speak a language derived from Latin, and is usually ignored by native English speakers, who prefer to learn Spanish and French. Translation? Less competition and more success!
2. Mandarin Chinese
China, the largest economy in the world since last year, is a key partner in trade for many countries around the world. If you come from the United States, Asia, Europe or Australia (that is, if you are a human living on this planet) you have already noticed that the importance of China on the diplomatic and economic front has grown exponentially. In addition to its mammoth industrial capacity, the huge number of inhabitants of the country means that this nation has become an increasingly important buyer of goods imported from the rest of the world and its purchasing decisions make it a bearer of interest in change, especially in sectors such as renewable energy. If you want to work in Asia, learning Chinese will give you a valuable advantage and allow you to converse with about one in every six people on the planet (there are nearly a billion native speakers!) In their native language. Remember: Despite its incredibly complex pronunciation, Mandarin Chinese uses relatively simple grammar structures and has no verb conjugation, gender and number distinction – a bonus for anyone learning it!
Impossible to leave out on this list, French is still a viable option for those who learn languages strategically. France is one of the European tourist hubs, which makes the language an excellent choice for tourism specializations, tour guides, hotel managers and other job positions in the sector. For those studying political science or interested in working in diplomacy, knowing French, one of the official languages of the United Nations, the European Union, the International Olympic Committee and the international judicial system, to name a few official bodies, is a distinct advantage. In addition, much of Sub-Saharan Africa is French-speaking, which further increases the number of international opportunities for French speakers. Do you already know English and Spanish? Thanks to the similarities between these two languages, studying French will be much easier.
While learning Spanish won’t make you unique in the United States (where 12% of the population speaks it), it shouldn’t be considered a useless second language. An official language in 21 countries, Spanish boasts so many native speakers that it is second only to Chinese as the most widespread language in the world. It is also one of the official languages of the United Nations, the European Union, the World Trade Organization and the North American Free Trade Agreement and should certainly be added to the CVs of future diplomats, politicians, immigration employees and students specializing in travel and tourism, to name a few. among many other professions. In addition to greatly simplifying travel to Central and South America, knowing Spanish is also an advantage because it is a reference language in Europe, where many speak it as a second or third language.
German, an official language also in Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein, is the most widely spoken language in Europe, with 18% of European citizens speaking German as their mother tongue. It is clear that Germany is a major player in the European economy and a major exporter of goods, from pharmaceuticals to cars. The business opportunities this offers to multinationals translates into a sharp surge in language courses: German is taught massively in secondary schools all over the world. In fact, around 68% of Japanese students study this language. From a more relaxing point of view, Germans are among the most passionate tourists in the world. Considering their good average salary and substantial vacation periods, there is no doubt that Germans are by nature globetrotters; and, of course, what they spend ends up directly in the international tourism sector, which represents a large opportunity for German speakers around the world to reap. Do you need another motivation? Switzerland, where German is spoken, boasts one of the highest quality of life standards in the world.