Tak­ing up a sec­ond lan­guage

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Higher Education -

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 flu­ently 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.

The right one

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 lin­gua franca for busi­ness, science, tech­nol­ogy and diplo­macy.

Ahead of the game

As you are read­ing this, you’re ahead of the game. If you see your busi­ness fo­cused on China, then Man­darin is a log­i­cal choice.

It is spo­ken by 1.2 bil­lion peo­ple around the world, and is a na­tional lan­guage in Tai­wan 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 in Chad, Le­banon, and the West­ern Sa­hara.

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 Spain.

As well as be­ing the of­fi­cial lan­guage in 21 coun­tries, it’s very use­ful in the US 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?

To be mar­ketable over­seas, you need to speak a lan­guage that’s com­monly used in trad­ing.

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