Learning Languages for Business. What’s the point?

Many businesses believe or assume that their foreign counterparts will use English to communicate so what would be the purpose of learning a foreign language?

We believe it is not only good for business to learn a foreign language but the advantages awarded are more than just improving communication.

Language Benefits the Economy

Although English has been the common language for businesses in the past, the changing labour market may dictate that English may not be enough in the future.

Only 6% of the worlds population speaks English and 75% of the worlds population can not speak any English.

Building strong business relationships

When we communicate with someone of another language we appreciate their effort to speak to us in English. Often we require them to make the extra effort and this effort helps to form good connections and lasting relationships.

If you speak a second language you will:

  • Be more successful in the global economy
  • Build better relationships at home and abroad
  • Be able to compete with your peers

Corporate Opportunities through the diversity of our business sector and global audience

Whether it is through working with foreign speaking people residing or visiting Guernsey, or through foreign clients or colleagues, being proficient in a foreign language is at least beneficial and at the most advantageous.

Language gives us access to culture

Language gives us access to culture in a way nothing else can, unlocking the door to knowledge and understanding of other cultures.

The British Council report:

Languages are the bedrock of the world’s cultural heritage. Every language offers a rich and unique insight into different ways of thinking and living as well as into the history of the myriad of cultures and peoples across the globe.

Not only do our languages differ around the world, but so too does our customs and inferences.

Customs in Italy

It is important not to make a matter sound urgent as it can appear rude or as a sign of weakness. Instead, you should make small talk and show some interest in Italian food, art, fashion or sports.

Italians will perhaps ask you questions, including questions about your family and interests: this doesn’t mean you or your business has gained their trust! Italians won’t always have a good level of English – they are below EU standards.

Customs in Germany

Germans polar opposites to Italians in that they keep their private and professional lives separate.

It may take longer to gain trust and build strong working relationships in Germany and sticking to timetables, being on time for meetings is vital.

It is recommended that Businesses make the initial contact in German.

Customs in Portugal

It is safe to assume that business contacts will speak English. English is usually the preferred language for negotiations but it is essential to speak slowly, clearly and without slang or over use of jargon.

Customs in Spain

Communications in Spain are usually formal and follow strict protocols that should be maintained at all times. Avoid confrontation and remain modest when explaining your achievements.

Key to Learning a language: persistence, dedication and hard work

It is never to late to learn a language and it can be a lot of fun. It has been scientifically proved that age is not a barrier to learning languages and can even delay the onset of dementia.

Becoming bilingual opens many new options in terms of where you live, where you can study, job opportunities and careers.

Languages for the future

These are the languages identified by the British Council in ‘Languages for the future’ as being vital for the UK over the next 20 years

  1. Spanish
  2. Arabic
  3. French
  4. Mandarin Chinese
  5. German
  6. Portuguese
  7. Italian
  8. Russian
  9. Turkish
  10. Japanese

You can read the full article in the July/August 2016 issue of Contact Magazine.

Accent offer onsite and offsite Business Language Classes to suit language learning requirements so contact us to discuss options.


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