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Old 02-07-2013, 08:46 PM
 
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For careers such as international finance,banking,accounting, and business.

People like to speculate and joke around of how we are all going to be talking mandarin chinese in the near future. Realistically, mandarin chinese is a very complex language for Americans, consuming many hours of study and dedication. We also know China is not the only growing economy. Countries like India,Brazil, and Russia are also growing, and are dubbed together as BRIC.

As a college students who knows english and spanish,(i am also improving and progressing in these languages) who would like to work in international finance or other industries mentioned above, related to Latin America, would it be a wise choice to learn portuguese. I can also sort of understand what famous portuguese celebrities say, and figure out and understand more than half of written portuguese articles. It is language sibling of spanish, which helps alot.

I also found out that there are not alot of portuguese speakers(supply) in the U.S in comparison to Brazil's economy ranking(currently seven largest)




According to the 2000 census

English – 215 million
Spanish – 28 million
Chinese languages – 2.0 million
French – 1.6 million
German – 1.4 million
Tagalog – 1.2 million
Vietnamese – 1.0 million
<Italian – 1.0 million
Korean – 890,000
Russian – 710,00
Polish – 670,000
Arabic – 610,000
Portuguese – 560,000

We can predict with Brazil's growing economy, there will be more demand for portuguese speakers, while there is relatively small supply of portuguese speakers.


So my question is

1. Would it be a good idea for me, a bilingual speaker who wants to work in international finance/accounting in Miami(or any other international city), with close relations with Latin America, learn a third language(Portuguese) to have an edge against the competition?
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Old 02-08-2013, 08:00 AM
 
12,627 posts, read 12,065,272 times
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I do not see how it hurts, unless it is taking resources away from learning more critical skills.

I work in internaitonal finance, I speak Russian and Hindi, and I deal with clients/co-workers in those countries. However, strnage thing is they all rather speak English than their own language, so I cannot state that it is essential or not in my own experience. Did it assist me in getting my current position? Maybe or maybe not, the powers to be never stated what factors led to my employment, but I can guess that it did not hurt.

My experience shows that educated people in the international finance industry in other countries are fluent in English.
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Old 02-08-2013, 09:45 AM
 
Location: Chicago
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OP, I think you make good points on Portuguese. I do think it will make you more marketable as it is about supply/demand. Plus it should be easier to learn with your Spanish/English background.

It seems like every one I know is getting their kid into Mandarin Chinese courses....Mandarin is now the most popular language course in many high schools (but I have not seen Portuguese courses). As you mentioned, it is a very complex language requiring many hours of study. I know kids whose parents are bi-lingual English/Mandarin, so it makes sense for them to learn Mandarin as they can speak it at home. Everyone is jumping on the Mandarin bandwagon though, but I'm not sure if it makes sense for a lot of suburban kids who will have little exposure to the language.

My sister works in finance and has worked in Asia. Her lack of Mandarin language skills has not held her back as business is all conducted in English. I worked all over Europe and Canada and I mostly encountered French or German. I believe these 2 languages are still very useful for intl. business w/U.S. bigger trading partners. My spouse and I speak French (wish I knew German) and that's what my kids are studying. But I think German is a very good language to learn with Germany being a EU superpower. I think German world economic influence will only get stronger.
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Old 02-08-2013, 12:50 PM
 
Location: North Idaho
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It's only valuable if you intend to do business in Brazil. As far as I know, the majority of businessmen in Brazil speak perfectly adequate English. Not that it isn't much more polite to learn to speak their language and that abiltiy should be well received.

But, yeah, if you will do a lot of business in South America, then Portuguese and castillano rio platense would both be useful languages.
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Old 02-09-2013, 06:31 AM
 
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Whatever languages you learn, be careful where you speak them. Sometimes it is better to stay with english and be able to listen to sidebar conversations others are having in their own language thinking you don't know what they are saying. Leverage. That is one of the major issues with dealing with Chinese and Arabs, they can discuss something in your presence and you have no clue. I wish you well. BTW, my opinion is based on conversations with a long term international businessman some years ago. Perhaps things have changed but human nature doesn't.
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Old 02-09-2013, 08:21 AM
 
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Yes, if you want to be a fishmonger.
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Old 02-09-2013, 11:39 AM
 
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, originally from SF Bay Area
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If you already speak Chinese, Japanese and Russian then I'd say that might be a good 4th or 5th language to learn, but I really don't see Brazil progressing that much into business with U.S. companies where translators would be in demand. A relative (we're Portuguese) majored
in Portuguese in college planning to do translating, and never did find a job in that field.
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Old 02-09-2013, 04:34 PM
 
Location: Seattle
1,361 posts, read 2,845,273 times
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Learning additional languages, is not a particularly valuable skill in and of itself, especially for business where English is, for better or for worse, the international language of business.

Now, that said, if you have a particular interest in living or working within a region where Portuguese is either a dominant or important language for conducting business, it is often a useful skill, and worth pursuing. But learning additional languages for the sake of doing so does not really represent a particularly good return on time spent, in my opinion, especially in a field like finance where many other additional skills can represent a lot more $$$.

If you are a college student, and you can spend time learning Portuguese, or studying for the CFA, or starting down the path to be a CPA, or getting an internship (i.e. real job experience), what is going to be more useful? For most people not the languages. Quite frankly, you aren't going to be that good at the language from a few college classes, at least not enough to conduct business.

Learning languages is better than not learning languages, for sure. But the real variable is is it more valuable than learning something else directly related to your field. It depends, but in most cases, you are better off sticking to developing a strong business resume, rather than a less strong business resume with passable Portuguese language skills in my opinion.

And the thing about Mandarin Chinese is nonsense, English is much more likely to be the defacto language of China than Chinese is the defacto language of the USA. I think it is a useful second language for children to learn though, simply because they absorb secondary languages so easily with minimal time spent, so it logically makes a lot more sense for them to learn them. But for adults?

Not really, unless you plan to live in China or Taiwan and need to learn the language for your daily life. But you are never going to speak Chinese better than a Chinese person, and tons of them will speak much better English than some college student in the USA who is starting to learn Chinese at the age of 18/19. If you are raising 4-5 year olds, giving them exposure to Mandarin is an excellent idea, however, in my opinion, since they will have the potential to develop excellent language skills at a minimal cost to other skills they can develop.
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Old 02-09-2013, 06:27 PM
 
1,265 posts, read 2,336,879 times
Reputation: 1224
Quote:
Originally Posted by drshang View Post
Learning additional languages, is not a particularly valuable skill in and of itself, especially for business where English is, for better or for worse, the international language of business.

Now, that said, if you have a particular interest in living or working within a region where Portuguese is either a dominant or important language for conducting business, it is often a useful skill, and worth pursuing. But learning additional languages for the sake of doing so does not really represent a particularly good return on time spent, in my opinion, especially in a field like finance where many other additional skills can represent a lot more $$$.

If you are a college student, and you can spend time learning Portuguese, or studying for the CFA, or starting down the path to be a CPA, or getting an internship (i.e. real job experience), what is going to be more useful? For most people not the languages. Quite frankly, you aren't going to be that good at the language from a few college classes, at least not enough to conduct business.

Learning languages is better than not learning languages, for sure. But the real variable is is it more valuable than learning something else directly related to your field. It depends, but in most cases, you are better off sticking to developing a strong business resume, rather than a less strong business resume with passable Portuguese language skills in my opinion.

And the thing about Mandarin Chinese is nonsense, English is much more likely to be the defacto language of China than Chinese is the defacto language of the USA. I think it is a useful second language for children to learn though, simply because they absorb secondary languages so easily with minimal time spent, so it logically makes a lot more sense for them to learn them. But for adults?

Not really, unless you plan to live in China or Taiwan and need to learn the language for your daily life. But you are never going to speak Chinese better than a Chinese person, and tons of them will speak much better English than some college student in the USA who is starting to learn Chinese at the age of 18/19. If you are raising 4-5 year olds, giving them exposure to Mandarin is an excellent idea, however, in my opinion, since they will have the potential to develop excellent language skills at a minimal cost to other skills they can develop.
This is very true. I might just concentrate in improving my english and spanish. Spanish America as a whole is a bigger market than Brazil anways. And Spain's economy is several times more larger than Portugal.
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