There are many languages spoken in the world and as the world gets ‘smaller’, the ability to communicate in several languages is essential. This also means that we are living in an increasingly integrated business arena. From lecture theatres to board rooms, communicating to others in their native language is the first step to founding a lasting partnerships and business relationships. In this new era of globalization, companies and employers start to value multilingualism more than before as multilingual employees, in general, are more accessible to any new changes and more accommodated to varieties of cultures and changes. And this comes with many advantages.
Especially nowadays when diversity in the workplace is of much value, understanding the meaning behind the words to emotionally connect with clients or colleagues can boost your company, making you more competitive in a global market. But before delving into learning a language, you may find yourself thinking “what language should I learn?” or “what language will be the most useful or practical for my profession?”
Out of over 7000 living languages there are in the world, what are the most important to be knowledgeable of, putting you and your business miles ahead of the competition?
- English is known as the Universal Language
- Portuguese is the Language of an Emerging Superpower
- Spanish is the most Widespread Language
- Mandarin in the World’s Most Spoken Language
- German is the European Business Language
- French is the International Language of Reference (also used in aviation)
- Italian is the Language of Heritage, History and the Arts
Mandarin is the official language of China, widely used in public speech, on radio and media and in education. This promotion of Mandarin by the Chinese Leaders was undertaken to unite China, which at that time consisted of many dialects, like Teochew, Hokkien or Cantonese.
Hence, if you would like to do business with Chinese people, it is better to learn Mandarin instead of Cantonese for most circumstances. However, if you would like to live in Cantonese speaking areas, or do business with Cantonese people in such areas, we would recommend that you to learn some Cantonese as well, on the condition that you are doing well with your Mandarin.
The Cantonese speaking areas in mainland China, include cities such as Guangzhou, Foshan, Zhongshan and Zhuhai. In the Guangdong Province, although almost everyone can speak Mandarin, Cantonese is still such a significant impact culturally as more than half of the population speak Cantonese natively.
There are some perfectly valid reasons to learn Cantonese, and I can give many, but if you know neither language and want to pick one to start with first, especially for business purposes, then you should definitely consider Mandarin. No other Chinese dialect comes close to the extent of its use both globally and across Greater China.
Here are the 5 top reasons why learning Mandarin is great for your career and business.
Learning Mandarin will help you understand cultural specificities
Beyond just transcending language barriers, when you begin learning Mandarin, you also start undoubtedly learning about Chinese culture. You will gain a unique understanding of how Chinese people operate. Values, beliefs and expectations are uncovered and suddenly your questions have answers.
For example, Chinese business life and social life are one of the same. Business is discussed comfortably away from the office with close friends and family. This is because Chinese people are big on trust (Guanxi). If your Chinese associates or colleagues seem difficult to work with, consider this as the reason.
Considering that China is also the fastest growing consumer market, having the skills to communicate and understand how Chinese consumers operate is an enormous advantage.
Enhance profits, budgeting and help expansion
If you can speak a basic level of Chinese, chances are you won’t feel the need to specifically hire a Mandarin-fluent staff member, especially when learning Chinese is easier than you think.
Like the French, Chinese people appreciate effort. Even a “Ni Hao” – Hello, or “Xie Xie”- Thank you.
Learning Chinese will also remove the need for translators, decreasing business expenditure and as these skills are rare, expect to be reciprocated with heightened career prospects.
Build strong relationships
As previously mentioned, the notion of ‘Guanxi’ or trust is crucial for effective Chinese business negotiations. Meetings and social events will always be prearranged in China before any business talk takes place. The foundations of trust must be cemented.
If you’re in China for business, the ability to speak in the native tongue will prove valuable. This shows respect, breaking down awkward language barriers and omitting the complete reliance on a translator.
Whilst a translator will still be necessary to fully interpret important business conversations, your ability to have a friendly dialog during social events prior, such as your appreciation for China, your experience in the country and general chit-chat- will be highly praised.
ICC’s China business language courses give you the skills you need to engage in such conversations.
China is an economic super-power
China is the largest manufacturing economy and exporter of goods, has a GDP of $10.9 trillion and is a major international trading partner. In other words, China has the power and influence to shape global narratives.
Speaking Chinese also means an easier time accessing some of the world’s most important cities for business and expansion (Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan). Could you be a Chinese speaking expat?
Basically, learning Chinese has never been more important.
E-commerce and social media marketing.
Navigating Chinese social media is challenging, though enormously rewarding. Successful engagement with Chinese consumer markets is the pinnacle of success for foreign businesses.
Statistics published by the National Bureau of Statistics highlight that consumption will remain as the vehicle behind China’s economic growth (attributed to a rise in income, better education and standards of living within Chinese main cities).
The confidence of engaging with target markets in Mandarin on these platforms and the ability to discuss, share products and read opinions would be invaluable for any business conducting market research.
The Business Chinese program at the Agape School of Education allows students to customize any area of the curriculum to suit their expertise and chosen professions. The course allows the focus of Chinese learning in specific industries such as High-Tech industry, Gaming and Pan-entertainment industry, Manufacturing industry, Banking and Finance industry. Be it online, as part of your company’s upskilling, or group classes, we have integrated Business Mandarin courses and even conversational-only courses!