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Top foreign languages to learn in 2019

It goes without saying that learning a foreign language is a worthwhile endeavour. For one, it boosts your brainpower, broadens your horizons and lets you dabble in another culture. But multilingualism also has a directly monetary incentive. Depending on industry, attaining a proficient level in a particular tongue may considerably enhance your resume, and even land you your dream job.

How to decide what languages to study?

Consider learning a language that will be the most beneficial to your career development in the long term. Opt for a safe bet — a business language which consistently occupies the top position of most sought after languages will give you an edge in the increasingly competitive job market. 

Adzuna’s in-house data scientists found a clear correspondence between the tightening relations with our main trading partners and the rising popularity of pertaining languages. Moreover, the spike in demand for business languages can be explained by the growing number of U.S. companies rapidly expanding abroad. More than ever, corporations are hiring employees capable of cracking the cultural nuances of a given market and building strong relationships with the local client base. 

Based on Adzuna’s data, we put together a list of the most sought after languages, which would impact your resume and hopefully advance your career prospects. 

people sitting in a classroom

1. Spanish

Native Speakers: 470 Million
Non-native Speakers: 100 Million

No surprise here. Spanish is the second most spoken language in the US has a long and important history in the U.S. In fact, Hispanic heritage has been interwoven into the American national fabric for longer than the United States has even existed. Based on the demographic forecasts published by Census, the Hispanic influence in the U.S. will only continue to grow. Therefore, learning Spanish will allow you to better communicate with a large chunk of the U.S. population, and come in handy especially for roles in healthcare, legal services, and education. 

Having a good proficiency in Spanish is also a strong business asset. As it is the official language of 20 countries, fluency in Spanish would facilitate dealmaking with many trading parters, and help tighten our existing relationship with Mexico – America’s third largest trading parter.

2. French

Native Speakers: 80 Million
Non-native Speakers: 153 Million

French is the only language besides English to be widely used on all five continents. It is the official language of Canada’s second most populous province — Québec. With an estimated population of 8.18 million, Québec alone represents the 13th largest market for U.S. exports.

Although French is considered to be the language of love, it shouldn’t be underestimated in its political character. An international language of power, French is the official language of the United Nations (UN), the World Trade Organization (WTO), and together with German, is the main language used within European Union Institutions. 

3. Mandarin

Native Speakers: 1 Billion
Non-native Speakers: 200 Million

The most commonly spoken language in the world, Mandarin is growing in popularity not least for its potential of challenging the supremacy of English as the language of international business. As China continues to rise through the ranks of economic superpowers, claiming the title of the world’s most influential trading partner — proficiency in Mandarin would, without a doubt, prove highly beneficial to your career. Although it’s one of the most difficult languages to learn, it’s definitely worth it. After all, it’s no coincidence that many business masterminds such as Mark Zuckerberg have invested their precious time to learn Mandarin.

4. Japanese

Native Speakers: 126 Million
Non-native Speakers: 1 Million

The third largest economy in the world, Japan is considered a trend-setter among the world’s most powerful countries. A technological powerhouse, it a valuable and powerful market offering an abundance of business opportunities. This holds especially true for jobs in the electronics sector, with globally recognized companies such as Sony, Panasonic, and Toshiba among many others. Knowledge of Japanese language and culture is often crucial for initiating collaboration efforts or launching a product for the Japanese market

5. Italian

Native Speakers: 63 Million
Non-native Speakers: 3 Million

If you’re an arts aficionado, have an eye for cutting-edge design, or possess an appreciation of culinary masterpieces, mastering Italian can open many doors and jumpstart your career in a discipline for which Italy is internationally-renowned.

Italy is a world leader in fashion, interior design, furniture production, as well as in machine tool manufacturing, with sophisticated technologies in electro-mechanical machinery. Curiously, many Italian brands and businesses like Fiat, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Armani, Dolce and Gabbana, Versace, often look for employees who are able to speak Italian, so if any of these big names stirs your fancy, consider learning Italian to increase your chances of landing a job. 

Top tip:

If you’re currently in secondary or tertiary education – take this opportunity to sign up for a language class. There is no better time to pick up a new language. Not only do you have access to the best materials, and support from professional teachers, but you’re also right at the cusp of entering the working world – so you can aptly align your language skills with grand long-term career plans.