The world speaks 7,111 languages today, but the most useful languages for global business expansion are just a handful. The 22nd edition of Ethnologue states that the top ten most spoken languages by the number of speakers are:

  1. English
  2. Mandarin Chinese
  3. Hindi
  4. Spanish
  5. French
  6. Standard Arabic
  7. Bengali
  8. Russian
  9. Portuguese
  10. Indonesian

Most Useful Languages for Business

Among the top ten most spoken languages, are you able to pick the most useful languages for international business?

The international business environment is very dynamic and changes frequently happen, as new markets open. With more foreign markets opening, there will be more languages to speak because of cultural diversity.

The need for proper communication is apparent, as the language gap remains the same. English is the de facto language of international business, but often, for professional networking, travel, transport, academic collaboration, and other aspects, people prefer to deal in their native tongue. Using the languages colleagues in foreign markets speak is one of the most effective ways to gain entry into a specific market.

Even if you are just starting your business, the power of the Internet makes it possible for international consumers to find brands and products worldwide without leaving their homes. Therefore, enterprises should prepare for this situation by having multilingual content.

Of course, it will be difficult to decide right away which languages you need to translate your content into to get ready for international customers. You need to have specific data to help you make a decision. Translating your website content is different from localizing it. Translation will only mean rendering the material into the target languages. Localization means that you are going to adapt your content to local preferences, aside from the linguistic aspect. You have to sound local despite being global.

After all, your decision will have a significant effect on your business success. One of the first few things you should do is to define your long-term business goals, determine your primary target audiences, and where you see yourself in the future.

You should consider some technical aspects as well when deciding on the languages you are going to use. You need to find out where most of your customers are coming from and where the potential markets for your business to grow are located. If you have the specifics, you will know which languages will be good choices for you when developing your global business expansion strategy.

There’s a caveat here. You still have to think forward because the language choices you make today may change in the future. There is also the possibility that more languages will be useful in years to come.

Common Business Languages

English is one of the most common among the business languages, followed by Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, French, Russian, and German.

These languages are commonly used because the countries where these languages are spoken are exporters and importers and their products are available in many parts of the world. Among these languages, you can say that Chinese Mandarin is the youngest as modern China only opened its door to the West in December 1978.

But you do not need to learn all these languages. You can hire a professional translation agency to handle your communication in all the languages you require. Translation service is the most viable solution to initiate your business’ global growth by approaching, and reaching your target audiences with your intended message.

International Business Languages

English remains one of the top foreign business languages. But you need to understand that the best language for business is the language your customer speaks. That is why global companies need to understand consumer demographics and local cultures.

It is difficult to make a decision on which languages will become more useful for global business expansion in the future. Still, we can give you a head start with these ten vital languages that the international business community uses. When your services, products and website speak in these languages, you advance the value of your offerings to international and local clients.

English

English is one of the top choices for international business communication and academia. Today, 1.132 billion people in more than 95 countries speak English. Several websites and Internet users speak English as well. For the global audience, English is still a preferred language, which you can use for global expansion. Do keep in mind that it is better to make your website and product/service information in different languages for a wider audience reach.

Mandarin Chinese

Mandarin Chinese is fast becoming a business language, as native speakers are just slightly lower than English, at 1.117 billion. Many e-commerce sites report that emerging middle-income Chinese consumers are some of the most prolific online consumers. The Asian market is one of the fastest-growing markets in the world, so you cannot go wrong with making your website and other information available in Mandarin Chinese.

Spanish

Gauging by the increasing number of Spanish speakers in the United States alone, you can determine that the Spanish language is one of the most influential international business languages. In the U.S., about 50 million people are Spanish speakers, and many of them run large and small businesses as well.

It is projected that the number of Spanish speakers in the U.S. will be the highest in 2050 among all Spanish-speaking countries. So if you are planning to enter the U.S. market, Spanish should be in your list of languages.

German

Germany’s industrial strength is well-known. Many networking opportunities and technological advancements make Germany’s economy one of the most stable and robust among the nations in the European Union. International business owners favor learning German because it gives them a considerable advantage in venturing into the European market. Aside from Germany, several countries, including Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Denmark, Holland, Austria, and Belgium, have a sizeable population of German speakers.

Portuguese

Brazil is an up and coming foreign market, especially for industries within the scientific, energy and pharmaceutical sectors. Among Latin American countries, Brazil has the biggest economy, so the opportunities for business growth are immense. Asian countries are also showing great interest in Portuguese-speaking countries due to their long-standing economic and diplomatic relations.

Arabic

Standard Arabic is currently the sixth most spoken language in the world. As business opportunities continue to rise from Middle Eastern countries, using Arabic as one of your chosen languages will further your business expansion, if you are interested in this particular market. The Middle East is a top export market for many consumer goods, so it is worth considering.

French

English holds the status that the French language used to have. The language remains a robust global language, as its speakers are widely dispersed. Worldwide, French is an official language in more than 29 countries. It is also one of the languages of the European Union. French is likewise a dominant language in several countries in Africa.

Japanese

Japan invests in projects and businesses involving research and development. Japan is technologically advanced, and is famous for its many contributions in science and technology, especially in robotics and electronics. Its import and export industries are very active. Japanese consumers are big online shoppers as well. Japanese consumers are always looking from novel, trendy and edgy products.

Russian

Even with the separation of several countries, the Russian market is still huge. The language is the eighth most spoken language in the world, with about 258 million using Russian as their first language. Russian is one of the UN’s official languages. Russia is still a durable economic power, with deep gas and oil reserves. Real estate is one industry sector that presents vast potentials.

Hindi

You might be surprised to know that Hindi is the third most spoken language in the world today, with about 615 million people speaking it as their first language. While India was once an English territory, and thus most of the people speak English, local languages have overshadowed it. The government supports the country through investments and other initiatives. Technology is one industry sector where India excels at, so it is fast becoming a destination for multinational companies focusing on mobile media and technology.

For Experts in Business Translation, Get in Touch with Us

eTranslation Services offers business translation services. We have experts in business translation with sector expertise. They understand business jargon and terminology, ensuring that your translation projects are accurate and suitable to all your intended target audiences. They are all native speakers and live-in country, which is a big help in fostering cultural understanding. We want your business to grow and expand, and we want to grow with you. To help you optimize your global business potential through effective communication, please get in touch with us by calling (800) 882-6058. If you prefer, you can send us an email at [email protected].