What are the most important languages for business?

You will need to translate your commercial and marketing content if you operate internationally.

In this article we will tell you what are the 10 most important languages to include in your internationalization strategy.

There is no doubt that the world is becoming more connected and that trade, more than ever, is international.

Most global companies have at least thought of the many opportunities that come with simply offering their content in different languages.
To effectively reach your audience, you need to speak to them in their preferred language.

You can, for example, locate an online training to improve employee communication, transate user guides to help clients or locate your website to attract more visitors around the world.

It is becoming increasingly necessary to define a translation and localization strategy that will foster such interactions internationally.

Among about 6000 known living languages, it is not always easy to choose those that are a good investment.
The first thing to do is to assess your macroeconomic goals and your key target audiences. Before you dive into the ocean of languages, examine the ones used by your competitors to communicate their content and ask yourself if you should copy them or stand out from them. Once you have gathered enough information, take the time to interpret it.

We have established a list of 10 essential languages that should be considered when translating your commercial and marketing content if you operate internationally. This list also presents facts and figures that illustrate how these languages are good options.

1. English

English is the language of business and academia. Spoken in 94 countries by 339 million native speakers, it is the official language of the 20 most important international organizations.

Its use is therefore extremely widespread. In most countries, it is also the first foreign language taught in schools. It is understood by one third of the world population.
The English language also holds the top position in the languages most used by Internet users with 949 million users and is the most used language on multilingual websites.

English is therefore essential for any company wishing to develop on the international scene.

If you need an English translator, you can find one on the Polyglot Services platform.

2. Chinese

Chinese is a set of Sino-Tibetan languages that accounts for more than 955 million native speakers, or 14,4% of the world's population. It is by far the most spoken language in the world, with a total of 1 billion speakers.

Its dominant position in the global economy makes it a remarkable source of business opportunities. At a time when Chinese companies are expanding internationally and while the country has increasing outsourcing capabilities due to very low costs and high productivity, this language can not be ignored. Besides, the practice of English is not very common in China.
Mandarin is also the second most popular language among Internet users. If Internet usage continues to grow in major Asian countries, it can be expected that Chinese will soon supplant English as the most widely used language on the Internet.

To translate your different written contents, you will have to choose between the two written forms of this language, namely Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese. While the majority of the population uses simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese use is increasing.
If you need a Chinese interpreter for a business meeting or another occasion, you will have to choose between Mandarin and Cantonese. On the other hand, if it is about documents to be translated, your choice will be between simplified Chinese and traditional Chinese.

3. Spanish

Although it is not necessarily perceived as a business language, Spanish, with 405 million native speakers, is the second most spoken language after Mandarin. No wonder then that you find it on our list.

By offering your content in Spanish, you open doors not only in Spain, but also in Latin American countries such as Mexico, Peru, Paraguay and Ecuador, and even in the United States, where Spanish is the mother tongue of about 37,6 million people.
Knowing that the United States is the world's largest economy and that the Hispanic population is expected to double by 2050, the importance of the Spanish language seems obvious.

Thanks to a rich array of bilateral trade agreements, Mexico's trade is among the most open in the world. The United Kingdom has also identified it as a priority country for international education.
If you want to do business in the United States, anywhere in the Western world, Spanish must be part of your translation languages.

Your can find a Selection of Spanish Translators here.

4. Arabic

Arabic is spoken by 295 million people around the world. It is the official language of 28 different countries, including a large number of dynamic and growing economies in the Middle East and Africa.

6 Arabic-speaking countries are among the UK's 50 leading export markets for goods. Their combined value in the economy exceeds that of Spain, China or Italy.
Besides, Arabic ranks second among the "languages of the future" according to a report published by the British Council.
The Middle East is a fast-growing market, with enthusiastic consumers. The region is prosperous and many states are trying to attract tourists to their countries, especially through shopping.

Clearly, the insecurity of the region is a real problem, but it only adds to the demand for Arabic content to meet the needs of intelligence and diplomacy.
The internet is also making headway in the Middle East and, given the fact that a large number of Arabic speakers speak only Arabic, translating content online in Arabic is essential to gaining an advantage in the international market.
If the display of Arabic has long been problematic on websites, the latest softwares and browsers have overcome this difficulty. It is therefore likely that more and more companies are translating their content in Arabic soon.
Companies should focus on making their products readily available in the Arab world, despite its difficult relations with the Western world. This will ensure positive results not only for companies speaking the same language, but even more so for diplomacy or the energy and defense sectors.

5. German

German has 95 million native speakers and a total of 210 million speakers worldwide. It is also the fourth most used language online. This may seem small compared to most other languages in this list, but this language is spoken in some of the major European economies, namely Germany, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Switzerland. Liechtenstein.
Germany, in particular, is the leading economy of the European Union and an economic engine at the international level.
Germany is the world's third largest contributor to research and development. German is therefore particularly important for scientific research and is at the top of the main scientific languages used in sciences such as medicine, social sciences, psychology, arts and other human sciences.
Thanks to their reputation for quality and know-how, many German companies dominate their branch and if you want to succeed in their field, you will have to use their language too.

Check our selection of German translators.

6. Portuguese

Portuguese is spoken by 210 million people in Portugal (of course) and in Brazil, as well as in some places in Africa. It is also the second language spoken in Latin America (after Spanish).
For business, Brazil is probably the most interesting country. Despite a deep recession, Brazil remains a big country and a big market. It represents the leading economic power in Latin America and, according to some indicators, the recovery in the country seems to be announced for the next year or the next. New business opportunities will not be missed.
As Brazil is the most cited scientific region outside the G8 countries, it offers opportunities for cooperation and scientific collaboration, particularly in the pharmaceutical and energy fields.
The British Council places Portuguese in the 10 most important languages for the future of the United Kingdom and cites potential opportunities in the fields of trade, science, education and diplomacy.
Demand for Portuguese is also increasing in the United States. Although it has always been considered an important language on a global scale, it has only recently been recognized as an important language for business and international relations.
Portuguese is also gaining popularity in Asia because of the importance of the region's diplomatic and economic relations with Portugal and Portuguese-speaking countries.
According to UNESCO estimates, Portuguese is the European language whose growth is strongest after English. According to UNESCO data published by The Portugal News, this language has the greatest potential for growth as an international language in Southern Africa and South America.
It is therefore interesting to consider Portuguese as a useful language for developing business opportunities on four continents.

Here is a selection of freelance Portuguese translators.

7. Russian

With 155 million native speakers in Central Europe, Eastern Europe and Russia, Russian is the eighth most common language in the world and the second most used language for website content after English.
Russia is one of the four major emerging powers in the world. It is already the sixth largest economy in the world and is expected to double Germany by 2030.
The size of the country, its emerging economy and its natural resources (it is the largest oil producer in the world) clearly show the interest that this language presents for business. In addition, Moscow has the highest concentration of billionaires in any major city in the world.
Russia is famous for its talented engineers and high-level computer scientists, and Russian is one of the most popular languages in the scientific and technical literature of the sciences such as physics and engineering.
Russia has a low English language proficiency. Translating your content into Russian can therefore be an important step in achieving your goals internationally.

8. French

Although French is generally considered to be the language of love, it is no less interesting for business. With a total of 75 million speakers in 39 countries, French remains a very popular language. In fact, it is estimated that 220 million people also speak French as a second language.
French is also one of the official languages of several organizations, including the United Nations and the World Trade Organization.
The French-speaking world also includes Africa, a rapidly growing continent rich in natural resources. The five fastest growing economies in Africa are Rwanda, Tanzania, Mozambique, Côte d'Ivoire and the Democratic Republic of Congo. French is the official language in 3 of them. In countries like Algeria, Morocco, Vietnam and Cambodia, where the level of English language proficiency is very low, French is particularly useful.
If you target consumers in these countries, translating your content into French can be an interesting investment.

9. Japanese

Japanese has 130 million speakers, mainly in Japan, which is the third largest economy in the world. The British Council considers that Japan contributes significantly to the prosperity of the United Kingdom, whether as an export market or as a major investor, and notes that Japan offers many opportunities, particularly in fields of science and technology.
Although the Japanese economy has shown some signs of stagnation, we must not forget the ingenuity of its companies, which, like German companies, enjoy a reputation for excellence. Japanese companies are highly innovative and Japan is the world's second largest investor in the research and development sector and one of the most advanced and technologically integrated nations.
Japan continues to play an important role in international high-level forums and remains a leading provider of development assistance. The Bureau of Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs sees Japan as an important partner, including in the areas of climate policy, energy and resource security, and financial institution reform.

To translate your content in Japanese, you can find a freelance translator.

10. Hindi

Why should Hindi be one of the key languages of your internationalization strategy? Hindi is the fifth most spoken language in the world and has 260 million native speakers. India is the seventh largest country in the world in terms of area, the second largest in population, and arguably the fastest growing country in all major economies.
Like China, India offers a large pool of consumers and a cultural diversity that makes it one of the major potential markets in terms of location, which can offer significant business opportunities. From this perspective, the internationalization will certainly have to cover the whole range of marketing channels (text, audio, video, commercial production).
Although India is the homeland of 125 million English speakers, 85% of the population do not speak English, overtaken by the use of local languages.
Proposals have been made at the international level to add Hindi to the list of official languages of the United Nations. If these proposals succeed, all United Nations documents must be available in that language.
To conclude, Indian demographics alone is generating consumers and businesses, and therefore a source of future demand in terms of localized content.

This platform allows you to find Hindi translators.

Think of fast-growing languages

Whatever languages you select, you'll often need to add new ones to meet the multiplication of content formats and the growth of your pool of potential consumers around the world.
Remember that our list is purely indicative and corresponds to what we consider to be globally relevant in 2019
If your company's target market is smaller, your personal "top 10" may have different languages that do not appear in this list.


The choice of target languages is crucial to optimize business results and gain market share internationally. It is a decision that is neither simple nor obvious.
Keep in mind that your own market research is a priority. On the other hand, your target audience remains an essential criterion for selecting the languages that will have to take place in your internationalization strategy.

Related topics:


Filter by Language:
 2 All
Gakala profile picture GakalaNovember 2023
Intellectsoft is your trusted partner in revitalizing dental practices through software development. Our team of experts understands the unique challenges faced by dental professionals and works collaboratively to create customized solutions. From patient management to digital imaging, our software is designed to elevate the efficiency and effectiveness of dental practices. Partner with us to embrace innovation and take your dental services to the next level.
latifa_kar profile picture latifa_karNovember 2019
Thanks for this Article,