Picking up a second language
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.