The global markets of the future can be partially defined by the global languages of the present. Language is one of the key aspects of a culture, and culture is the key to global markets.

Today, the four most-spoken languages in the world are Mandarin Chinese, with 907 million people speaking this as a first language; English, with 456 million native speakers; Hindi, with 383 million people speaking it; and Spanish, with 362 million people using it as a native tongue.
French, the former diplomatic language of the world is now 11th with 123 million people speaking it as a first language. However, do not consider French a “dying language.” On the contrary, it is one of the most useful business languages.

From a business point of view, the most useful languages around the world are English, Spanish, French and German respectively. Becoming fluent in these languages will literally allow you to work almost anywhere in the world that matters. That is primarily due to rapidly developing countries placing a great value on learning English as part of the primary education system.

The most interesting aspect of this “language marketing approach” is to look at where the growth markets are today and where they will be in the year 2000.


China is the sleeping giant. In this market, even the smallest percentage of any market is a very big deal. With more than one billion people, even a one percent market share means significant business. Also, China is a rapidly becoming capitalistic. Every movement toward capitalism increases the need and desire of the Chinese people for imported goods and services. Mandarin Chinese may be the most-spoken language in the world, but English is the chosen second language of the Chinese.

English is the language that will unite China with the world business community.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong is populated primarily by Chinese people from the Southern China provinces, where Cantonese is the primary language. These people have adopted English as their second language. You cannot find a primary or secondary school in Hong Kong that does not teach English.
English opens up the world. English is big business. To the Chinese, the English language is life because business is life.


India is a country of more than 800 million people who speak more than 500 dialects of language.

English is the chose language used to unite the Indian people with on common business language. Think of the impact on your business if you could win even a small market segment of this vast population. For example, India is primarily a land of Hindu people and where the Hindu religion dominates. However, India also has a three percent Christian population. In a country of more than 800 million people, that means there are 27 million Christians – great news for Bible publishers. A small market share of a large market can be a significant addition to the bottom line.


Spanish speaking people exist literally around the world. From Mexico to Central America to South America, Spanish is one of the fastest growing languages. Even in the United States one-third of the population will claim Spanish as their first language by the year 2020. Spanish is a powerful force in international business.

As such, people who speak Spanish have more employment opportunities than people who do not. People who speak even a little of any of the key languages will always have a competitive advantage over those who do not, just as corporations who focus on language marketing will have a competitive advantage over those that do not.

Language marketing is the term coined by this author to show the importance of language in doing business worldwide. Language skills are communication skills. Communication skills are relationship skills. Relationships skills are business skills.

Remember, “language is the soul of culture; culture is the soul of business.” The global success stories of the year 2000 will be based on language and culture.

Business Tips
Language Lessons

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