Quite a few students who are learning Spanish at the Babel School of Languages, are learning another language hoping that it would help them in their careers or help improve their business.
With this in mind, a question that often pops up is “Is Spanish really the best language to learn for business?” Another question often asked is “What are the benefits of learning Spanish for my career? Will it impact its rate of growth?”
We look to address this question by looking closely at the true benefits of learning Spanish and the methods to master it.
So to start with, here are the top 5 benefits of learning Spanish for your business.
1. Mind Boggling Numbers
First, let’s talk numbers.
How many countries speak Spanish?
Spanish or Castellano as the language is called in South America, is spoken in a whopping 21 countries and enjoys official status in almost all of them.
What are the 21 Countries that speak Spanish?
Here you go: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, México, Nicaragua, Panamá, Paraguay, Perú, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Uruguay, Venezuela, Spain, and Equatorial Guinea. If Spanish is not the best language to learn to do business in these parts of the world, nothing else is.
How many people speak Spanish in the world?
Over 577 million people speak Spanish in the world, of which over 480 million speak it as their mother tongue. That makes Spanish the third biggest language in the world, with over 7.6% of the world population speaking Spanish. There are more than 22 million students for Spanish across 107 countries, as we speak!
2. The Emergence of Latin America
The markets of Latin American countries have opened up to the world and many companies born in the Spanish speaking universe have become true global brands. This emergence of Hispanic companies as commercial powers has created new business dimensions that require the forging of strong relations with both producer and consumer. In such a climate, Spanish is increasingly becoming a language for business and commercial transactions.
3. The growth of Spanish Outside of Traditional Markets
Countries like the USA, Brazil, and the Philippines are seeing a growing number of Spanish speakers in their demographic. There is a large number of Chinese are now of the opinion that Spanish is the best language to learn for business, given the opportunities they see in the South American continent. Thus, the language has started growing exponentially outside of its traditional borders- Spain and the Latin American world.
4. Impact on you Career
Given how much the world has been flattened by technology, any CV of a student who has been learning another language stands out. Especially Spanish. The increasing number of hispanophones in the US has made many advertisers take a keen interest in addressing this population. Hence, if you apply for a marketing firm, for example, in the USA with a strong working knowledge of both English and Spanish, chances are that your CV will definitely stand head and shoulders above the rest. Also, the economic emergence of the Spanish world has made them attractive markets for multinationals. Spanish is hence set to emerge as one of the most important languages to know in the business environment.
5. Cultural Understanding
The Hispanic world is vast and varied but united by the love of one language. Learning Spanish makes you easily comprehend the cultural differences between you and a client. It makes you nuance your vocabulary and helps immensely in negotiating in ways that are fruitful for both parties.
Now that we have established why Spanish is one of the best languages to learn for business and its learning advantages- What is the best way to learn Spanish for Business?
Whether you are learning Spanish as a hobby or for your career you will have to start at the basics. This is the most important language learning step. The beginning steps in language education is pretty much the same for all students- as you grasp the grammar, the syntax, and start learning basic vocabulary. If you are learning Spanish and you would like to profit of it in a professional environment it is not necessary that you start with classes specifically designed for business or in the context of the professional world. While generalized Spanish classes do not focus on the beginning stages on these aspects, it is also critical that one gets to learn a generalized version of the languages before you start to specialize. In fact, all language education is built around these foundation stones, and hence, starting at the basics is the best way to learn another language.
Generalize. Then Specialize.
Think back on how you were at School. You might be a professional with an MBA degree now or a well-respected doctor. But you did first go through 10-12 years of learning history, geography, Charles Dickens, science, and math in English before you started out specializing in your chosen field. It’s just that in Spanish (or in the learning of any other foreign language) you are doing the generalized knowledge acquisition in record time. All the more important, that you learn the generalities first and learn them well and then proceed towards the specialization. Else chances are that you will miss cultural nuances (the most important language learning benefit) that are common knowledge for the Spanish speaker which you don’t know because you were too busy picking up the right jargon in your field. Definitely not the best way to learn another language!
Fluency is the trick.
Imagine that you are in a company trying to close a deal with a Spanish speaking client. You hardly know him and it is important that you build a great relationship built on confidence so that you can move forward. In that moment, the learning advantages i.e. the fact that you are speaking Spanish can be of vital use.
You would have to use vocabulary that is pertinent to your sector.
Negotiate and debate with your boss, your client and your suppliers to arrive at the right figures and conditions.
You might have to speak fluently on the phone or on Skype,Zoom etc. in an articulate manner with others.
You need to understand technical terms.
Your business writing must be flawless and precise so that your mails are effective.
And you have to do all this while having a strong understanding of the client’s culture.
So, how long does it take to become fluent in Spanish to this level?
In language education, we often tell students that a great way to do this would be to keep focusing on general language acquisition while dedicating time to read in Spanish more and more written material in your domain. Also, listen to shows that deal with your domain and try having conversations with people who share your interest in these themes. You would notice your fluency slowly improving. A definite learning advantage is also the exposure this gives you to other cultures and ways of thought.
Play act. Enact.
You can also try recreating real-world situations from work and try enacting them with your classmates, once you have reached a good level of fluency.
Job interviews, Oral presentations, Work meetings, team meetings, video conferences, project reports, or even conflict resolution scenarios – all these can be great ways to improve work-specific language knowledge and fluency. If your question is how to become fluent in Spanish as soon as possible- start play-acting! In fact, not just Spanish, this would be the best approach towards learning another language- any language.