languages to learn for business

April 25, 2023 •

10 min reading

The best languages to learn for business and the hospitality industry

Written by

Learning and speaking foreign languages opens doors to new cultures and countries, helps to work in international environments, and altogether, is an additional asset in life. In terms of employability, language proficiency constitutes a significant added value to your CV. But are there any languages in particular that might benefit a prospective hospitality industry employee?

Improving your employability with in-demand languages


The hospitality industry, a sector with a wide range of business facets driven by serving an international clientele, needs employees who are multilingual and conscious of multiculturalism. Possessing more than one language skill makes you more marketable. Being more culturally appropriate and responsive is a great advantage when dealing with international clients. In the job market, multilingual hospitality workers are in demand; multilingual candidates may be offered job opportunities that are not open to others.


Besides the top language, which is still English, other languages like Spanish, German, French, Mandarin, Russian or Arabic are among the most useful languages to learn nowadays for hospitality and business. I would like to differentiate and concentrate on three languages that are among the top languages to learn specifically for the hospitality industry.

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The importance of learning Spanish

  • BoliviaHospitality_Insights_EHL_Best_Languages_To_Learn_For_Business
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Cuba
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • Mexico
  • Nicaragua
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Spain
  • Uruguay
  • Dependent territory of Puerto Rico
  • Spanish has significant minorities in Andorra, Belize, Gibraltar, United States.

It is one of the six official languages of the UN. Spanish speaking countries have excellent business prospects with the Latin American market having a huge purchasing power which is constantly on the rise. Spain and Latin America are among most popular traveling destinations and it is important to speak the language in order to communicate with the locals or work in hospitality industry in those countries.


Spanish is the language of Cervantes. Spanish films, songs and books are nowadays among most popular in the world and it is a privilege to be able to admire them in their original version. Another great advantage of Spanish is that, according to many, it is not a very difficult language to learn. Besides, being the most widely used Romance language, it can facilitate learning other languages like French, Italian or Portuguese. 


Russian language and culture

The second language that I would like to mention is Russian, in which I specialize. It is the language of Tolstoy's “Anna Karenina”, Dostoyevsky's “Crime and Punishment” and Akhmatova's poems. It was also the mother tongue of Tchaikovsky the composer, Stanislavsky the acting theorist and Tarkovsky the genius film director.

Hospitality_Insights_EHL_Languages_To_Learn_For_Business_BannerMany people say that Russian is beautiful and sounds very melodic and soft to foreign ears. One of the reasons is a large number of vowels: 10. It uses a blend of soft and harsh sounds that gives it a particular musical feature. It belongs to the East Slavic group in the Indo-European family of languages. Russian uses the Cyrillic alphabet created by two Greek holy monks: Cyril and Methodius in the 9th century AD in Bulgaria. It took its roots from Glagolitic, Greek and old Cyrillic alphabet. The more contemporary form of Russian appeared in the 18th century.

The numbers speak for themselves: The Russian language is spoken by around 156 million people worldwide as their mother tongue and another 60 million as a second language, which makes it the 8th most spoken language in the world. It has recently been ranked the second most used language on the internet and it is one of the six official languages of the UN.

Russian is one of the official languages or the official language in:

  • Russia Hospitality_Insights_EHL_Best_Languages_To_Learn_For_Business_001
  • Bielorussia
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Tajikistan

It is a widely spoken language or one of the languages spoken by minorities in:

  • Turkmenistan
  • Uzbekistan
  • Azerbaïdjan 
  • Moldova
  • Armenia
  • Georgia
  • Ukraine
  • Estonia
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania

There is also a notable contingent of Russian-speakers in Cyprus, Finland, Hungary, Mongolia, Poland, China, the United States and Israel.

Simply gaining knowledge of the Cyrillic alphabet, (which is easy to learn by the way), could help you in countries using this alphabet as their main or optional alphabet, such as:

  • Bulgaria
  • Serbia
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Montenegro
  • North Macedonia 
  • Mongolia

Lastly, If you look at Russia geographically - positioned between Europe and Asia - the Russian language appears to be the most common denominator for inter-ethnic communication in Eastern Europe and economic exchanges between countries in which it is spoken.

Let’s take the example of Kazakhstan, where Russian is one of the official languages, and its rapidly growing international tourism market. Cities such as Almaty or Nur-Sultan host numerous international conferences, exhibitions and forums. The country has the ambition to become a « business hub » in central Asia due to its rapidly developing tourism, business markets and its geographic situation on the way to China, Mongolia and India.


Mandarin shows resourcefulness and perseverance

languages to learn for business Mandarin

To an employer, being able to dive into and follow through with a language based on a different alphabet such as Russian and Mandarin shows serious dedication, resourcefulness and perseverance. Learning Mandarin develops cognitive development as it involves not only language, but also drawing, sounds and math at the same time.

Mandarin belongs to a group of Chinese (Sinitic) dialects. Around one billion people speak Mandarin as their first language, which makes it the most widely spoken language in the world. The simple fact that speaking Mandarin enables you to communicate with more than a billion people worldwide speaks for itself.


It is an official language in :

  • China

  • Singapore 

  • Taiwan

  • It has a recognised minority in Malaysia.

In brief, there are large diasporas of people speaking Mandarin all over the world, and since China is still considered an emerging global power, many multinational companies are increasingly searching for Chinese speakers. It is the language of commerce in a lot of Asian countries. Mandarin opens doors to many career opportunities and higher paying jobs. It also is in the top three languages used by internet users.


Mandarin is one of the most required languages in the tourist sector due to high numbers of tourists from Asian countries. It makes traveling in Asian countries much easier. It is one of the six official languages of the UN. Lastly, the knowledge of Mandarin provides you with a better understanding of Chinese culture, one of the most ancient cultures in the world!


To sum up, learning a new language helps improve memory, multitasking and general performance in other academic areas by keeping the neurons fresh and active in the brain.



Languages and nationalities at EHL

EHL is an international learning institution that's not only multicultural, but also multicampus (Lausanne, Passugg, Singapore). Walk around any of our three schools and you'll hear a variety of languages being spoken - sometimes resembling the mythological Tower of Babel! At Lausanne campus, for example, there are over 120 student nationalities and five main languages are taught: French, Russian, Spanish, Mandarin and German.


EHL highly prizes its multicultural reputation and makes a point of promoting 'multicultural intelligence'. The learning of languages is equally encouraged, knowing that this is a skill of immeasurable value in the world of business and hospitality today. 

Written by

EHL Senior Language Lecturer

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