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 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.