NORTH DAKOTA (KXNET) — When it comes to North Dakota exports, we ship a lot of goods out of the country.

In fact, according to the United States Trade Representative, more than $8 billion worth of goods from North Dakota is shipped to foreign countries.

Our state’s top 5 countries include Canada, Mexico, Australia, Germany and Japan.

So business is good, but there is one thing that keeps us behind doing business with a lot of these countries: language skills.

According to the World Population Review, 94% of North Dakota residents speak only English, while 6%  speak other languages.

About 20% of the nation is bilingual, so we are behind.

However, our top two languages, other than English, are Spanish and German, which makes sense with the countries we do business with; however, we need more people to speak more languages, especially the next generation.

That’s why schools are pushing for language-learning to be taught more in our state.

Rebecca Bellinger, Business Education Director at the University of Maryland, says “A lot of people say and throw out this figure that 95% of the world’s consumers live outside U.S. borders. That’s absolutely true, and with that comes the fact that 80% of the world’s purchasing power is outside the U.S. borders, and something like 92% of economic growth and development is also outside U.S. borders.”

The Scientific American concluded that the ability to learn a new language is strongest until the age of 18.

To become completely fluent, however, learning should start before the age of 10.

There are programs in our state, and online as well. A lot of them are through our colleges, but the courses are available to people outside of enrolled students too.

To check them out, click here.