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Learning languages abroad for business

Anyone who has watched commercial TV in the last couple of years will be familiar with the HSBC ad branding the bank as ‘the world’s local bank’. The bank also runs another advert showing a young Cantonese girl putting the finishing touches to a lemonade stall outside her house in the hope of earning some extra pocket money. Suddenly a busload of thirsty Chinese tourists appears and buys up her entire stock of soft drink. While her father looks on in shock, the young entrepreneur proceeds to change foreign currency and converse in Mandarin with her visitors. The message from HSBC is that even the smallest businesses now have a global dimension.

Language schools are also keen to sell a similar message, and it is one that seems to be borne out by the increasing number of language students enrolling for courses in a second or third language, many of them doing this abroad.

Here is why learning abroad is so beneficial, as well as some of the best languages to learn for business:

Why learn a language abroad?

In the globalised world of international business, where world economies are increasingly interdependent, learning another language seems to be a safe bet. It is an investment of time and money that will be repaid by the boost in your career or businesses. Knowing a language can help you get a job abroad, converse with colleagues and help you communicate and sell to customers around the world.

Learning abroad is a great way of picking up a language, as it means being immersed in the language, as well as learning about the culture of a country. This will make any business that you do with a country much easier, as you will know the customs and codes they work under. This also really gives you an edge over others who have not studied abroad when applying for jobs that deal with that country.

Best languages for business

Traditionally, English has been seen as the language of international business and the language most in demand from non-native speakers. However, students and more senior professionals learning German at language schools are on the increase, most likely because of Germany’s economic position in Europe. Click here to find out more about available German courses in Germany.

Whether you go to learn German at or a similar language school offering immersion courses, fluency in the language and an appreciation of the culture will stand anyone looking to get ahead in business in good stead.

Shifting world demographics and economic changes also mean that Mandarin and Spanish are increasingly popular options. In terms of native speakers these are the world’s two most spoken languages and anyone wanting to do business across Asia and Latin America should regard at least a few basic polite words in these languages as essential.

Although it is not the most widely spoken language, Spanish is a particularly interesting case. Depending on your view of history, you could say that Spanish owes its current success either to its native Spain’s profile as an adventurous entrepreneurial nation, or as a ruthless colonial invader. Either way, there are two very distinct groups of Spanish learner: those wishing to learn traditional Castilian Spanish from Europe, and those seeking skills in Latin American variations of Spanish for business there.

Which language is a safe bet for your business career? Top schools offer many courses that you can take in different countries – do some research and see which would be most suited to you.

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