Foreign languages international business
Home Business Insight & Analysis 5 Important Foreign Languages to Learn for International Business
Insight & Analysis - November 26, 2021

5 Important Foreign Languages to Learn for International Business

Now that the world is a global village, positioning for international business opportunities should be a top priority for anyone. Learning one or more top foreign languages is undoubtedly a genius move that would give you leverage, as multilingual individuals are in high demand. 

Even though there are AI-powered translation tools, they still would not replace human translation. As an entrepreneur or employee, you still need to communicate with potential clients, suppliers, or partners to do real business with them, and no robot can replace that.

According to a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit, out of 572 senior executives interviewed to establish the importance of multi-language speakers, half of them admitted that the language barrier has dwarfed major international business deals for their companies because “messages (are) lost in translation.” And 64% of them said they haven’t expanded internationally because of poor communication skills. 

However, it is equally important to know that not all languages are monetizable or give you the needed edge. Here are five foreign languages you need to learn to advance your business or career.


English is the most commonly spoken language in the world. Even though a majority of its speakers are not native speakers. Approximately 1.5 billion people speak English, but less than 400 million individuals use it as their first language. English is the de facto language of the United States and an official language of Australia, the United Kingdom, South Africa, and a number of other nations, which makes it an important language for business owners to learn, especially now that China and Asian nations are the to-go for many international deals.

In addition, with 949 million users, the English language continues to be the most often used language by 53% of websites and internet users. As a result, there is no doubt that English is the language of globalisation.


More than 80% of China’s population speaks Mandarin. If China is the second most powerful country in the world, then Mandarin is as powerful. The language is spoken by 1.05 billion people worldwide, making it one of the essential business languages to learn. 

According to the International Monetary Fund, China has the world’s largest economy in terms of purchasing power parity. Many of the world’s largest businesses like AlibabaQZoneSina Weibo and others are headquartered in China.

The economic shift that China went through in the past three decades ranges from national trade to international market ties and cross-border treaties to giant leaps in the field of science and technology that has put their language. And if this trend continues, analysts predict that China will become the world’s leading economy by 2050.  


There are 436 million native Spanish speakers in the United States. Spanish is spoken by around 527 million people worldwide. With the US as world’s greatest economy and the Hispanic population expected to increase by 2050, this makes Spanish greatly important. If you want to start a business in the United States, or anywhere else in the Western hemisphere, learning Spanish would give you a edge.


Approximately 76 million native German speakers and 129 million people worldwide speak German as a foreign language. With a GDP of over 2.4 trillion Euros, the German economy has proven to be one of the strongest and most stable in the European Union, thanks to technological advancements and networking opportunities. The German language provides a significant advantage to anyone wanting to pursue international business. It is also estimated that speaking German could come with a pay boost of about 4%.


Arabic is one of the foreign languages to learn for international business. Spoken by approximately 422 million people worldwide. The Middle East is where it is commonly used. Business opportunities are expanding rapidly and learning Arabic can be a big plus for business owners. In the UK’s top 50 export market for commodities, six Arabic speaking countries appear with a combined worth that exceeds China, Italy, and Spain. A report from the British Council ranks Arabic as the second most important language of the future.  

READ ALSO: How African Businesses Can Use AI to Break Language Barriers 



Leave a Reply

Check Also

5 African Female Pilots You Should Know

The story of African female pilots is one of resilience, ambition, and breaking new ground…