Written by: Leigh Perkins // Jul 20, 2021
Last updated: Jan 17, 2023
¿Hablas español? Mastering the basics of the Spanish language provides you with a valuable tool for commerce and cultural connection. It is the official language of 20 countries. But it is by no means a “foreign” language. There are more people who speak Spanish in the U.S. than in Spain. Keep reading for some additional facts illustrating the importance of learning Spanish for business.
Spanish Is the Most Common Second Language
Although there are 6,000 languages in the world, few will be as immediately useful in your workplace as Spanish. America’s Hispanic population is particularly concentrated in three regions: 55 percent live in Texas, California, or Florida. It is estimated that 18 percent of residents in the Tampa Bay area are native Spanish speakers, with a similar percentage in metro Orlando.
While already a core target market for every business in the region, what’s even more compelling is that the U.S. Census Bureau projects the Hispanic/Latino population to double in the next three decades. Doesn’t it make sense to speak the same language as your customers, colleagues, and competitors?
Communicating in Spanish Gives You a Competitive Edge
In other countries, a second language is second nature. For instance, 56 percent of Europeans are bilingual, compared to only 20 percent of Americans. Being able to communicate with overseas clients, suppliers, and buyers can be the difference between your company securing a contract and the deal going to an organization better trained in language diversity.
Monolingual negotiations can have a significant failure rate. The American Council on Teaching of Foreign Languages found that 25 percent of U.S. employers have lost business due to a lack of language skills.
Speaking Spanish is not only a strategic asset that will grow in importance as the international market shifts its focus away from English as the lingua franca of business; it also makes your customer service so much better for a growing percentage of your clientele. This can be more than a mere business advantage. In the case of pharmacists and pharmacy techs, communicating in Spanish about medicines, side effects, insurance, and refills can be vital to your customer’s well-being.
Learning Spanish Can Actually Make You Smarter
The benefits of acquiring Spanish skills go deep – all the way to your parietal lobe. People who speak more than one language have more gray matter in this section of the brain, where vocabulary acquisition and language processing happen. Scientists have found that bilinguals tend to be more creative and better at multitasking. Most interesting as it relates to your work-life (and life-life) is this finding: Speakers of two languages display cognitive flexibility – the capacity to adapt to the unexpected.
Practicing Spanish Hones Your Listening Skills
Learning phrases, vocabulary, grammar, verb tenses, and cultural references in Spanish or another language forces you to listen very closely. That kind of attention improves your overall active listening skills and concentration, essential traits for success in fields such as psychology, education, medicine, sales, customer service, and HR.
Speaking Spanish Can Bolster Business Relationships
The buying power of Spanish-speaking customers is skyrocketing, and so is the rise of Hispanic-owned businesses. They are growing at twice the rate of other U.S. firms. It’s critical to gain the skills to interact with this expanding market, where Spanish is the emerging language of economic collaboration. Learning Spanish will help you build lasting relationships with your buyers, suppliers, and partners who are more likely than ever to be native speakers.
Gaining an appreciation for Spanish culture and for the way your Spanish-speaking colleagues and customers do business can organically expand your professional network. It can enrich your personal experiences in the world and at work, giving you endless points of connection to individuals you otherwise might not have gotten to know.
Spanish Skills Can Give You the Upper Hand in a Job Search
Beginning language training will not produce instant fluency, the conversational expertise you might highlight on your résumé. But it does show your willingness to grow. Learning Spanish tells recruiters that you’re working hard to expand your knowledge and that you appreciate a diverse work environment. Employers like those qualities.
It’s important to note that companies often seek out employees with field-specific vocabulary and enough conversational basics for common workplace scenarios. For instance, HR professionals need Spanish to make appointments, conduct interviews, and impart safety instructions to applicants and new hires. Speaking just a few important phrases could help you land your next job.
Spanish Is Relatively Easy to Learn
The U.S. Foreign Service Institute says it takes 480 to 2,200 hours to gain working proficiency in a second language. The good news is you’re not training to be a diplomat. You’re training to master business basics of the Spanish language, a Category 1 language according to FSI. That means it’s one of the easiest languages to learn for English speakers. There’s no new alphabet. It’s completely phonetic, meaning it’s pronounced as it’s written. Spanish grammar is fairly straightforward.
More bonuses: Spanish is full of cognates (words that are basically the same in English and Spanish, such as perfecto) and, with telenovelas on TV and co-workers and neighbors who are native speakers, there are loads of opportunities to practice your nouns, verbs, and idiomatic expressions. The single difficulty in learning Spanish is the rapid-fire delivery. Only Japanese is spoken faster than Spanish.
Spanish Proficiency Could Bump Up Your Salary
If your firm puts a premium on bilingual interaction, knowing the business basics of Spanish could help you make more money. Committing yourself to further study and practice could result in the kind of fluency that prompts employers to pay up to 10 percent more, the average increase for bilingual employees.
To gain that premium, you would need to prove your Spanish proficiency on an international standard language proficiency exam. This is essential for bilingual roles and jobs with multilingual overseas companies. For most professionals, though, completing a language immersion course establishes your ability to communicate Spanish effectively on the job.
Earn Your Credential in Immersive Spanish for Business With USF
If you’re ready to engage with your Spanish-speaking customers, employees, patients, and job applicants in their first language, USF has the Spanish immersion course you need. Taught by native speakers with a focus on industry-specific vocabulary, each of these upcoming courses provides comprehensive online instruction in the Spanish basics your job requires:
- Immersive Spanish for Business, Level I and Level II
- Immersive Spanish for HR Professionals
- Immersive Spanish for Pharmacists
Contact USF’s Corporate Training and Professional Education program to speak to an advisor or to register for one of these career-changing courses. ¡Gracias por leer!