Speak you English? – Good English is still important
In today’s workplace, foreign language skills are an absolute must in many industries. And English still tops the list – after all, it is the most spoken language worldwide. In Germany, almost a quarter of all vacancies call for a knowledge of English. In the business world in particular, there is no getting around it.
The degree of fluency expected of applicants, however, is dictated by the area of industry and the kind of position. Sometimes it is enough to be able to read and understand English. But professionals and managers often have to be able to conduct important negotiations in English, or collaborate closely with foreign colleagues.
Which languages you should also consider learning
In addition to English, other languages can be helpful for your career.
French is very useful for Germans with business connections in Europe, especially since the two countries are neighbors and important trading partners.
Furthermore, French is the language of communication in the EU institutions in Brussels, and one of the official languages of international organizations such as NATO and the Red Cross.
Another argument in favor of French is that Africa is becoming an increasingly important trading partner – with French being an official language in many African countries. This also makes it important for jobs in the field of development assistance.
After English, Spanish is the most widely spoken language around the globe. With some ten million Germans spending their vacations in Spanish-speaking locations like the Costa Brava each year, Spanish is very useful for those working in tourism.
Spain is also an important trading partner for Germany – plus Spanish is also the primary language spoken in Latin America.
For German employees, it can also pay to learn Japanese. There are more than 1,000 Japanese companies in Germany. In Japanese technology firms in particular, there are often attractive positions available in international management – but Japanese language skills are often a prerequisite for such jobs.
Two further languages that many employers are looking for are Chinese and Arabic, because they are spoken by large numbers of people in countries where German and international companies have business ties.
China is Germany’s fourth-largest trading partner, for example, and many products exported by the automotive and electronics industries find their way to the “Middle Kingdom” each year.
So there is no way to answer “What language should I learn?” in a way that applies to everyone. It will depend on the industry and the company you work for.
But generally speaking, the more languages you master, the better!
Language training in companies – which method really works?
In the workplace of today, language skills are not just desirable for individual employees who would like to gain an edge in the job market. Companies also understand the importance of foreign language skills. After all, not only must they be able to compete in domestic markets these days, but internationally as well. And clumsy communication can cause a lucrative deal to go up in smoke.
So it is indeed in the interest of companies to make sure their employees have the right language skills for the international marketplace.