Picking up a second language
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?