Globalization is reshaping how companies work, where they choose to do business, and who they decide to bring on board. As a result, the demand for multilingual employees is off the charts.
The benefits of having a team that can communicate in more than one language are vast, especially for companies with international growth on the horizon. From a business perspective, it can help increase your client base and build trust in relationships with both existing and new partners. Plus, it will certainly improve your reputation as a company that knows its clients — and the world they live in — well. On the other hand, from an HR perspective, language learning can help empower employees by making them more confident in their work with international colleagues and clients, and can make them more productive to boot!
But when you’re thinking about integrating language training into your company, choosing which language to focus on can be a tricky decision. To help you decide, we took a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of two of the world’s most popular second languages for business: Spanish and German.
With over 400 million speakers worldwide, knowledge of Spanish can dramatically increase your international business prospects. As the first language of 20 countries and the second language of the world’s biggest economic power, having Spanish on your company’s resume makes you a much more desirable partner in many major markets.
As the third most commonly used language on the internet, being able to communicate in Spanish has huge advantages in a technological world. Global digital growth shows no signs of slowing down, which puts your company steps ahead of competitors from around the world. ¡fantástico!
Time is money when it comes to your team’s professional development, and Spanish is considered one of the easiest and quickest languages for a native English speaker to learn. The grammar and sentence structure are simpler, and because both languages have Latin roots, they also share thousands of cognates (words that sound the same and have the same meanings).
However, not all Spanish is the same, meaning it can be one of the more difficult languages to apply to international business expansion. With 10 major dialects in use across the globe, learning the many nuances of Spanish around the globe can take time and practice. This can make it tricky to enter into various Spanish speaking markets at the same time!
Germany is the economic epicentre of the EU and German is the second most spoken language in Europe, making it the ideal language for companies with a desire to expand their business into this region of the world, where business is booming.
Business prospects are rapidly increasing in Germany, which means it’s an excellent place for companies to expand to or open up new offices. Recent studies claim it’s the top investment location in Europe, meaning more opportunity for your company to gain market share and industry knowledge, while connecting your employees to an expanding global network.
However, the complex grammatical structure is not for the faint of heart. Three genders, noun declination and hundreds of rules (with just as many exceptions) make German one of the more challenging languages to learn.
Though if your team is up for the challenge, the rewards are worth the effort. Germany is home to many of the world’s most valuable brands and has the best reputation of any country in the world, making it a great place to do business. Plus, the language has a lexicon so expansive that your team will never be lost for words - versprochen!
All things considered, the answer to the question of which language would be most useful for your team can’t be determined all that easily. Your company’s needs, objectives and unique circumstances all play a major role in deciding what direction you should take. If you were to ask us, of course, we’d say: Why not aim for both (or all) of the languages relevant to your business? The benefits of language learning are vast – and your team’s working knowledge of them can be, too!
Cassondra Dolan, Language Specialist
Cassondra is a writer, translator and language enthusiast with a passion for exploring the ways culture influences learning. Through her work with Babbel, she aims to promote language learning best practices that focus on inclusivity and diversity.