Pick­ing up a sec­ond lan­guage

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Higher Education -

IF you want a re­ally good ca­reer with a multi­na­tional, lan­guages are key. In Malaysia, we tend to speak our own lan­guage re­ally well and can usu­ally con­verse in two or three oth­ers. 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 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 tongue for busi­ness, sci­ence, 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 1.09 bil­lion around the world, and is a na­tional lan­guage in Tai­wan and Sin­ga­pore too.

As China is a man­u­fac­tur­ing powerhouse, you could learn this lan­guage, and live any­where and be the Chi­nese con­nec­tion for any multi­na­tional.

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 house lan­guage, Ara­bic is also use­ful in Africa, es­pe­cially Chad, Lebanon, and the Western Sa­hara. As this con­ti­nent has s ev­eral 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’s very use­ful in the United States where it’s the most pop­u­lar lan­guage af­ter English. Also, un­like Man­darin and Ara­bic, you don’t need to learn a new al­pha­bet. That’s a plus, right?

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