Besides its role as one of Canada’s two official languages and its use in France, French is also spoken in regions of Belgium and Switzerland, a number of African countries, and some island nations in both the Pacific and Caribbean. France is among the most important countries in Europe with a strong economic and political position within the European Union. France also plays an important cultural role both through maintaining its own illustrious heritage and through its leadership among Francophone nations around the world.
Germany serves as the industrial and economic engine of the European Union. Since the demise of the Soviet Union and reunification with East Germany, German investors have been very active in Central and Eastern Europe forming many important joint ventures with local entrepreneurs. German firms continue to have a strong worldwide profile in industries such as machine tools, automobiles, and industrial chemicals.
Japan is the third largest economy in the world and an important trading partner for Canada. Japanese firms have large investments around the world with considerable influence in Asia. Given its geographic position and technological sophistication, Japan is well placed to profit from the growing economic importance of China. Acquiring facility in the language helps understand the subtle nuances of Japanese culture and its influence on Japanese business practice.
Over the last decade, China has been the fastest growing economy in the world. With its large population and expanding industrial base, China has become an export giant and is now launching its own overseas investments. Mandarin is the official language of China and is spoken by many Chinese populations in other countries. Doing business in China or with Chinese firms involves dealing with important cultural differences. Knowledge of the language is an important asset.
Spanish is the dominant language in more than 20 countries in the world including Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, and other Latin American countries. A growing number of Canadian companies, especially in the mining and financial sectors, have major investments in Latin America. As Canada’s integration into NAFTA and Free-Trade Agreements with Colombia, Peru and Chile increase foreign trade, the Spanish language has become an important asset for Canadian managers in international business.