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ping la

Student-Finance Major,

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How many languages should we learn in bussiness? which one we must have to learn?

In Asia every students are forced to learn english.But I think that's not really inspire for us .If you really insteresting for any languages you will study it by yourself instead of forcing.
Every teachers,parents,bosses told us that we have to speak as more as different languages but in this world have too much languages.
Beside english which language is the most people speaking?
And second?

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    Nov 26 2013: Let me give you my ''western perspective''

    Every ''era'' had a dominant language.

    For example, in Europe during the Roman Empire, the most powerful and influential language was Latin, which united European land under one crown. People back then thought Latin was going to dominate the continent forever, but with time passing by, new dialects started developing, some of which we now call Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French or Romanian.

    Then, when the French, Portuguese and Spanish Empires started exploring the Americas and Africa, they started to impose their own languages onto new lands, which we now call Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Senegal or Angola. People thought these three languages were going to dominate the western world forever.

    Then however came the British Empire and managed to reach all continents, making it the first truly global empire in the world. People started learning english in North America, in many parts of Africa, in India, in Australia and small parts of East Asia and international business and trading was being made more and more in English.

    Basically, from a business point-of-view, English has quickly evolved into the world's most important tool for communication, thanks to these 3 stages:

    stage 1: the british empire (presence in all continents)
    stage 2: the american rise in the 20th century
    stage 3: the internet

    My short answer to you is: If you 'need' to learn one (and only one) foreign language, you should definitely learn today's global language, which is English.

    However, history was shown us, that every powerful language will eventually fall, either break into different languages or dethroned by another global power.

    On an educational level, I believe it's inspiring to learn as many languages as you can, because you not only learn the language and practice your brain, but also learn about different cultures, which motivates you to travel around the world more

    Learning languages, cultures, places... it's the best thing in life!
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      Nov 26 2013: Really thanks for your comment.
      From telling me language history to how to choose languages by myself.
      Really useful.
      I'm still learning for french now.
      I'm interesting for it but i don't know did I make wrong choose?
      Maybe I should choose more helpful languages first instead of french?
      (ex:Spanish,Portuguese ,Japanese...etc)
      Will you change your mind to give up French?
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        Nov 26 2013: I believe that your national language (chinese right?) + English is enough for your professional life in general, but depending on where you live, study or work, it is also very important to learn a third language.

        For example, if you're a Portuguese person working in Germany, probably you will have to speak a lot of German, besides Portuguese and English

        If you're a Chinese person living in France, probably you will have to speak a lot of French, besides Mandarin and English.

        Personally, I only learn new languages when I really need to, but I also move a lot... right now I'm living in Shanghai and I'm learning Mandarin to understand the people and the culture better. Although I'm not fluent yet, it already really helps me!

        It really depends on your situation... If you like to learn languages as a ''hobby'' , any language is worth learning! But if you're going to study or work in France, you should better study French... if you want to go to Mexico, you should better study Spanish... if you're working in Saudi Arabia, you should better learn Arabic.

        If you like French, then study French ;) I know it's a very difficult language for Asian people, especially because of the grammar, but Spanish and Portuguese have similar grammar to French.

        I'm from Portugal and I can read Spanish and French, although I never studied it.... it's all the same language group!
    • Nov 27 2013: 100% agree.
  • Dec 4 2013: Think of it as a personal investment - I can speak 3 languages (Italian, English and Swedish) - each of these language has brought something unique to me, a unique way to see things, to name things - a completely different mindset that helped me see some things from different perspectives, and -I don't mean to sound rude but - In many cases knowing more languages led me ahead of some people, in life and at work.

    Don't only consider learning a language as a duty or a necessity to become a part of the professional/ business world - learning a new language will truly give you more control over so many things: the quality of the information and culture you can access, your potential to reach new people and new opportunities...

    I know it's hard to get inspired to do something you feel forced too, but you can always find a angle to get into it :-)
  • Gord G 50+

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    Nov 29 2013: The only language that matters is the language of money. If you get that right, conversational syntax will be forgiven.
  • Nov 26 2013: Hello! This is my first comment in TED and I have to use English language. But I speak Spanish, one of the most important language in the world. I think is the second one if we're considering the amount of countries where it's spoken. But if I want to watch the TED's conferences or to participate in this conversation I need to use English.

    When we think about the importance of education in a society, we usually say that this education is necessary if you want that people think on their own. This is the way to be free. We want to read the news and have our opinion. But if there is someone who read them for you the news can be changed. You don't feel really free.

    In countries like Spain, we're used to watching films that have been dubbed. I want to listen the real voices, the real interpretation. I want to judge by myshelf.....so I need to learn English!!!!

    My opinion is that you have to learn all that helps you to think freely. The most you can learn the most you can think. The most you can think the most free you are.

    (excuseme if my English is not perfect.....but I'm learning your language!!!!! and I'm happy to be able to talk to you )
  • Nov 26 2013: English is by far the most important, but not because of the number of speakers. English represents money, soft power, science, technology, and military power.

    Mandarin Chinese ("Chinese" technically isn't a language, it's a language family) will have much more importance in the future if China's economy continues to grow, but at the moment it's not any more important than learning Japanese (for example). That's because China's economy is still only half the size of the USA and roughly the same as Japan. China still has little soft power (people in other countries almost never watch mainland chinese movies or listen to Chinese music), and hasn't contributed much in terms of new technologies or science.

    People need to learn English for EVERY country they work or travel in. Learning a third language like Japanese, Chinese, Spanish etc. is only a specific goal for business in those countries. For example learning Chinese will only help you in China; it'll be useless in Brazil or Germany. But English is useful for business in any country, Brazil, Germany, Japan, wherever. It's the default mode of communication.

    So to answer your question, Everyone SHOULD learn a second and third language. The second language is English for travel and business around the world, and the third language is the language of the country you will be traveling to and doing business with the most.
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    Dec 2 2013: While English is certainly the most preferred language of the business world, there’s no need to be arrogant about it. Business students can’t just be good students anymore — we live in an age where a successful businessperson must also be worldly to be a success. Learning a foreign language can be difficult, but ultimately supremely beneficial to a student’s credentials. And using Google Translate won’t do; you’ve got to know the ins and outs of an idiomatic language in order to really make your point. If you can do business in several languages, especially with written communication, there’s a host of jobs open to you that wouldn’t normally be on your radar. And that’s not all. Studies show that bilingual folks have better brain function. The limits of your world are the limits of your language, and it’s long past time to make your world as large as it actually is. Learn one of these seven relevant languages for business, and you’ll be one giant step closer to a truly global career.
    • Dec 3 2013: As a teacher of foreign languages, I've been telling my students that which language you learn is not as important and why you should learn one. Yes, studies do show that there are different connections made in the brain as a result of acquiring a new language. My students (college students) are amazed at the differences in how people see the world. Why would we not want to open our minds? Being aware that the people you interact with in business might not agree with you because of cultural differences is important. Knowing that there are differences in cultures should prompt a good business person to investigate before they offend.
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    Dec 2 2013: Learn the ones you love or from the cultures you would like to explore... You can do business with any culture or language...
    I wouldn't go for dead languages though (not so much business)
  • Nov 26 2013: English,还有 中文。
    I happen to realize the importance of being able to speak both two languages.
    Not that those two are most important, but it's just that,我来感觉 people speaking those languages happen to be 非常多。
  • Nov 25 2013: English is the closest thing we have to an international language today, and by far spoken by the most people (though usually as a second language, so an exact figure is hard to come by). I'd recommend everyone study it, fun or no. Even if you never once in your life find yourself in need to hold a conversation using it (unlikely), you'll still find it all over the place in everything from academic research to technology.

    You learn plenty of things you don't like in school; English at the very least is practical for the vast majority of the population, as opposed to say, history or literature. Better to force people to learn English, honestly; most will learn to appreciate it later in life.

    Learning more languages after that can be handy, though in most places, its not as crucial. It depends where you live, mostly.
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    Dec 5 2013: Hi ping,

    I would not expect a person to speak more the his native language and English, any other should be driven by your own interest.

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    Dec 4 2013: Learning a new language seems to alter brain development for the better. Hence any language seem to be helpful. http://www.mcgill.ca/channels/news/learning-new-language-alters-brain-development-230131
  • Dec 3 2013: Languages are learned best when you are young. But children of, let's say 10, are mostly not interested by themselves in a different language. In my opinion it is therefore important to start early with the most important languages. In my case it is English. Lateron children cna decide what other languages they want to learn. Task of the school is to let them understand that it's fun and has sense to learn them. Forcing is always a bad idea.

    The best way to show the importance is to organize opportunities where schoolkids meet others abroad. E.g. an exchange in a neighbour country and stay for some days in a family. Cheaper solution: organize a meetup with kids from abroad with Skype.
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    Dec 2 2013: We are communicating in Engish in this Forum, aren't we?! Is this happenning naturally or culturally? My opinion is that Business English is a reality well beyond the size and importance of Western economies today. Internationalization is more and more necessary in a global economy, and English communications are definitely a step ahead in this process. My education was bilingual Spanish-English (I'm Peruvian born), but I also see how important it is to keep the heritage of other local languages and understand the way they shape business practices.
  • Dec 2 2013: In a response to your question, I think that there is no such a language we should or must learn. It is all up to exactly what you want to do in your life.

    Generally speaking,the more language we know, the more opportunity we can possibly get in business.So I think it is better for everyone to be encouraged to learn many languages but not being forced by anyone.

    I would like to suggest that you make sure exactly what you would like to do from now, and then decide the language you are going to learn.
  • Dec 2 2013: English and spanish are world languages. You can go a far way with them in business. I am german and in school we learned english for sure and could choose betweem latin (!) and spanish. Both languages sure helped me in my job (I work as a huam ressource expert). I studied cultural anthropology and came across Lakota (the idiom of the lakota indians in the USA). I learned that the language a nation or group of people speaks represent the way they perceive the world. And that is very interesting. Linguists differentiate between rational and descriptive languages. When I worked in a russian-egyt-german project, I found that russian is far more descriptive than german and english. It was funny for me to speak english with a russian and a german buisness men. The russian guy spoke 'in stories' the german in a very abstract way. I had to explain a lot.
    So you can learn an language you love and additional you should learn english, and then spanish. Good luck!
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    Dec 2 2013: I suggest Spanish except English. But you should be interested in the language that you will learn. For example, chinese is very popular but I'm not interested in that language. So you should think this. Good luck!
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    Dec 1 2013: English is definitely the dominant language both in business and daily life,it will still be in the foreseeable future. Due to the Great British Empire in the 19th century and the USA in the 20th century,their peerless power pushed English to its status quo.

    English is the de facto world language,in terms of its scope in use. Language is like a net,all the knots connect each other,thus,they are highly interconnected. We,the people are like the knots in a net,if we cant speak a language which is being spoken among the people around us ,we will be isolated,vice verse. In other words, we learn and speak English in case of being marginalized.
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    Dec 1 2013: well, think twice, english is more significant if you wanna be international.
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    Nov 30 2013: In my country-Turkey-, we have to learn English,too.It is compulsory. we used to start learning English when we were 10 years old 1 years ago. But now age of learning English starts more earlier. So, it is very necessary but knowing your own language and English is not enough in Turkey because everyone who living in this world knows English anymore. I think you can learn French because French people dont speak in any language except for their own language.They have strict point of view about this matter.In the future, you work with them, you may take disadvantage of it. Also, you can learn another Latin languages.
  • John Mn

    • +1
    Nov 29 2013: In my point of view, as many languages as possible. However, there are some important languages such as Chines, Japanese, French
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    Nov 29 2013: English is the king of business languages. Think of the future; look at the signs. There is a language you have to learn.
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      Dec 1 2013: You sound like my latin professor back in the year 530, when he told me ''latin is the future, the sacred language of god, it will dominate the continent forever''

      On a more serious note, if your professional life is in China or in Brazil, do you really think English is sufficient?
  • Nov 28 2013: Actually I am also Asian, so I totallly understand your question. In my country, it is really good for you if you know many languages such as Englsih, Spinish and so on. When I was a middle school studnet, I was really interested in learning English. however, I've been changing my mind because It's really stressful for me. we have a big problem with English that it has an opposite structure. that's why when we make a English sentences, It's not clear and a little bit awkward. Nevertheless, Most korean are really want to get a good English skill and be a excellent speaker. Because they know exactly, when they can speak English very well, It has a lot of chance to get a job or successful future. As a result, English is the most important word nowadays and hope to learn very clearly.
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    Nov 25 2013: I speak 4 languages. I don't speak them because I had to, but because I had incentive to do so (business needs, better communication, liking the language, living in the place, etc).
    I think to your question as to how many languages you should learn there is no real answer.
    Learn whatever adds value. If you need English for business then learn English, if you like Tagalog because you like it's sound learn that, if you move to Sweden, then learning Swedish might become useful.
    • Nov 26 2013: I also speak 4 languages and only learned them because of the need to understand more people. As an Anthropologist I fount it to very important and useful when I want to get different kind of information. Now as I have have my little business it is very convenient. I think knowing languages gives you more advantage in life.
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        Nov 26 2013: Speaking to people in their own language is always the best, even if English would work most of the time. But usually people express themselves differently if they can speak in their own language.
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      Nov 26 2013: Really thanks for your comment.

      I'm still learning for french now.
      I'm interesting for it but i don't know did I make wrong choose?
      Maybe I should choose more helpful languages first instead of french?
      (ex:Spsnish,Portuguese ,Jananese...etc)
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        Nov 26 2013: Learning something, never is lost time. If you find that Spanish is more useful for you in the future you can still learn it. Actually it will be much easier because French, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian have the same roots.
      • Nov 27 2013: Well the way I chose my languages was like this, I wanted to talk one East, one West, one South and one North language. I am from Lithuania so only one language missing is East. I was waiting for Hindi professor when I was still at my university, but in 2 Years he didn't arrive. Well this way is just my understanding, Hindi is not that useful but still wanna learn it. But I would choose Hebrew right now, mostly for economic reasons. And there's no one day I don't speak all o the languages I know, it's really amazing how much things and knowledge you can get being able to speak other languages. (I speak English, Russian, Spanish and my Lithuanian, so basically can have conversations with people who don't even speak them but speak similar languages, it helps a lot).
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        Nov 27 2013: I think learning French should be just for interest sake, unless you plan on doing business in or conversing in France.
  • Nov 25 2013: English is a must, at least till you are old enough (about 16 years old, perhaps?) to decide whether you would be better off learning another language such as French or German. It all depends on what you are going to work on. If it's diplomacy, English and French. If it's business administration, then it's Chinese and English. If it's Literature, English and Spanish. It all depends on your interests, but I would say that English has to be learnt at least up to some extent.

    I'd also like to add that it depends on how English is taught. I learnt English in a quite dynamic way and so I was able to progress quite fast, but many of my classmates can't even talk coherently and hate it because all they do is study structures and repeat them. Completely disengaging and useless if you ask me. So find a good teacher if you are struggling with it.
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    Nov 25 2013: Learn whatever you are interested in.....
    There is no must.
    Power rules....in my country school tries to teach English because we were their colony not that we learned for business or any other reason.
    Currently lot people are interested to learn Chinese because of it's strong growth potential in business...so again power rules.
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    Nov 25 2013: ping, here is list of how many people speak each language: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_languages_by_number_of_native_speakers

    What do you mean when you say every student in Asia is forced to learn English?

    Maybe English is a more influential language than other languages, so that is why they want you to learn it?
  • Dec 9 2013: I thought learning languages will also develop as your business grow. Somehow a starter should learn english other than their native language. When your product predict to have a great sale in China, Chinese must be a good idea to start learning. But as your business grow, not all leader will be able to learn quickly, money can buy everything including native speaker for personal assistant. For conclusion, start your business as soon as possible without worrying what language you should learn, action first and continue the process :)
    But english is a must
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    Dec 9 2013: The answer to what language "should" you learn is relative to you area of work, where you live and where you want to go. Ussually english is a safe bet, as it is a very popular language nowdays. Besides that, from a business intelligent perspective, probably mandarin would be a second choice and french as thirth.

    I, as a spanish native speaker, chose english as a second lenguage because of the freedom related to the access of information that english brings. I plan to follow with french, both because is a beatiful language and because is popular in Europe, a place I want to visit in the future. After french, I plan to learn italian just because of its beauty.

    There are some languages which are a good idea to learn even if you do not feel particularly drawn to it, like english, but I strongly believe that is way easier to learn a language that you are interested.
  • Dec 6 2013: Greetings from Algeria ,
    Well ! I understand your situation . Bear in mind that everywhere in the world students are obliged to learn English . Even in Algeria , we've got parents who take their children to private schools to learn English at early ages . In public schools , they start learning it at the age of 11 .
    Nowadays , English language is having a great impact on lot of domains (science , economy , politics , communication...) people learn it for a purpose . Each language is beautiful , according to me . Maybe tomorrow it will be the african languages or the scodinavian ones . it depends on how language influences the world and English succeeded to influence us . Moreover , people like learning French and Spanish beacause they find them beautiful and their accent is amazing , there are who find chinese or arabic interesting , so they decide to learn them . We're not obliged to learn only English language . As i said , people do it just for a purpose (work_communicate...) .

    French people say :'L'apprentissage des langues se fait de métissage'
  • Dec 5 2013: In my opinion, we have to speak at least 2 languages, including English. Indeed, English is universal. Nowadays, we learn English all around the world, in every countries. We learn it earlier and earlier because English is great value. Of course, we have to speak our native language too. But new languages are developing, such as Chinese. With the globalization, China is become important in the economic world. I’m not sure for now, but maybe, across the years, it could be interesting learn Chinese too. It could be strategic speaking to a company having people who speak it, because of the economic place of China and its growing population.