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 flu­ently 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.

First, English re­mains the world’s most pop­u­lar lan­guage as it is the most com­monly used one for busi­ness, science, tech­nol­ogy and diplo­macy. As you are read­ing this, you’re ahead of the game.

If you see your busi­ness as fo­cused on China and her neigh­bours, then Man­darin is a log­i­cal choice. It is spo­ken by 1.05 bil­lion peo­ple around the world, and is a na­tional lan­guage in Tai­wan. As China is a man­u­fac­tur­ing pow­er­house, you can learn this lan­guage, and live any­where and be the Chi­nese con­nec­tion for any multi­na­tional firm.

If you’re in­ter­ested in petro­chem­i­cal, 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 main lan­guage, Ara­bic is also use­ful in Africa, es­pe­cially Chad, Le­banon, and the Western Sa­hara. As this con­ti­nent has sev­eral fast­grow­ing economies, learn­ing this may pay off hand­somely.

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