Pick­ing up a sec­ond lan­guage

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Education Guide -

IF you want a re­ally good ca­reer with a multi­na­tional com­pany, lan­guages are key. In Malaysia, we tend to speak our own lan­guage re­ally well and can usu­ally con­verse in two or three other lan­guages as well. How­ever, that’s not re­ally enough.

To be mar­ketable overseas, you need to speak a lin­gua franca: a lan­guage that’s com­monly used in trad­ing. There are many lan­guages that qual­ify for the ti­tle so the key to pick­ing the right one is to un­der­stand their ap­pli­ca­tions and lim­i­ta­tions.

Firstly, English re­mains the world’s most pop­u­lar lan­guage as it is the most com­monly used tongue for busi­ness, tech­nol­ogy and di­plo­macy. If you see your busi­ness as fo­cused on China and her neigh­bours, then Man­darin, is a log­i­cal choice. It is spo­ken by 1.2 bil­lion peo­ple around the world.

If you’re in­ter­ested in petro-chem, or any busi­ness that’s fo­cused on the Mid­dle East, then Ara­bic is a great choice. While most cor­po­ra­tions there will use English as a house lan­guage, Ara­bic is also use­ful in Africa. As this con­ti­nent has sev­eral fast grow­ing economies, learn­ing this may pay off hand­somely.

An­other great lan­guage is Span­ish. It is spo­ken by 521 mil­lion peo­ple. It’s the lin­gua franca in South and Cen­tral Amer­ica, and of course, Spain. As well as be­ing the of­fi­cial lan­guage in 21 coun­tries, it is very use­ful in the United States where it is the most pop­u­lar lan­guage af­ter English.

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