Which Languages Should Accountants Learn and Why?

Accountants, some may say you already speak a foreign language, but knowing a second or third language could benefit your career enormously. In an increasingly globalized world and competitive market, proficiency in a second language can set you apart from other monolingual candidates. Keep on reading to find out why every accountant should seriously consider learning a new language!

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Why should accountants become bilingual?

Acquiring a foreign language will not only make you shine in comparison with monolingual accountants, but it will also help you in a myriad of other ways:

  • It will make it easier to learn new in-demand skills. Learning a language (especially one like Mandarin that involves acquiring a whole new writing system) requires patience, self-discipline, and the capacity to adapt to new circumstances. Plus, research shows that bilingual speakers demonstrate more creativity and flexibility, and are able to prioritize and take immediate action in emergencies. All these capacities can be transferred to the learning of other skills necessary to the profession, such as taking important decisions on behalf of clients and learning new tax laws and how to apply them.
  • Connect with clients with a mother tongue other than English. Knowing a language also entails understanding people’s beliefs, issues, traditions, and cultural references from an insider’s point of view.
  • It will open up more travel opportunities: If you work for a company that serves international clients, they may ask you to travel to handle certain clients or projects personally, especially as you can speak the language of the country/client you will be visiting. If you would like such jet-setting opportunities, learning another language is one way to make them happen.

What languages should accountants learn?

The first thing to consider when choosing a foreign language to learn is your location and your clients. For example, if you work in Canada, it pays to be proficient in French. Similarly, if you work for a big firm that serves clients from India, then learning Hindi will mean you can welcome more people into your office. However, certain languages are an asset to every US accountant: Spanish, Mandarin, and German.

Mandarin is one of the most spoken languages in the world and knowing it will give your career a boost, especially considering almost 4 million people of Chinese origin live in the USA (and 15% of them speak only Mandarin). Also, if you plan to conduct business in China itself, very few of the population (only 1%) speak English fluently.

Naturally, learning Spanish is a wise choice in the United States, as Hispanics are the largest minority in the country (Latinos make up almost 20% of the country’s population). More than 50 million people in the country speak Spanish as their mother tongue (and 10 million of them speak almost no English) or second language, meaning there are more Spanish speakers in the USA than in Spain itself—and many of them will want accountancy services.

Last, German will be an asset for accountants who want to do business with European clients. German is considered to be the standard language of finance not only in German-speaking countries, like Austria, Germany, and Lichtenstein, but in the whole of the European Union. Learn German and you will be able to connect with many more clients from the EU than if you only spoke English!

 

Certainly, learning a foreign language will not only make you more marketable, but it will benefit your other soft skills too, such as perseverance and decision-making, both which are crucial to any successful accountant. Although these 3 languages are quite different from English (thus, they can pose a challenge when trying to learn them), the effort truly pays off. Build up your language skills and increase your employability today!

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