English may be the international language par excellence (oh blimey, French!) but other languages are not far behind.
Companies that currently export or aim to, cannot afford to ignore the language factor. Linguists say the future of the world is tri-lingual. English (in the bag), Spanish (dos cafés con leche, is that enough?) and Mandarin Chinese (need to do some work on that one.)
What are your language needs? There are many different approaches you can take for your language needs, focus on a core of staff who have linguistic aptitude, developing their skills to the max. Or make sure everyone who has overseas contacts has a smattering at the very least for business trips and other international communication. Probably a mix of these is best, strategically.
Plan your language training over the long-term – it’s a process that pays dividends quickly in terms of ability to communicate at a basic level, but to progress to a level of serious competence takes time.
There is a myth that the British cannot learn languages. Do you realise that’s actually quite racist, against ourselves? It’s just not true anyway. There are thousands of Brits abroad who have integrated in their new environments and speak the relevant language like natives. Anyone can, in theory, learn any language.
We all need to get into the mind-set that being at the very least bi-lingual should be the norm. At Chris Polatch Languages we recommend that you start with learning Spanish as your first port of call. It’s a world language (see above), it is widely spoken in North America as well as in South America (apart from Brazil, which is Portuguese), it’s approachable in terms of vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation, and native speakers view attempts to speak it by non-natives as laudable and will always help you along your journey to learn.
You could have another reason for learning another language. Maybe you are merging with a German or other European company? Perhaps Italy is a major market for you as it is a major world economy, with a large population, similar to our own.
Arabic is the main language spoken throughout the wealthy Middle East. Arabic is not one of the Big Three above, however it is a major language.
French may have waned in international importance, but France is a big economy, and if you do business with French Canada it comes in handy.
Portuguese (similar to Spanish in vocabulary and grammar – if not pronunciation – is vital for doing business with Brazil, as well as being quite handy when you’re in that beach-bar in the Algarve.)
Never neglect your foreign staff as they will have much to offer and may have hidden talents.
How proficient is their English? Are you happy to send them out to do a pitch, or would some targeted language lessons be of strategic benefit? Do you feel they sometimes do not fully understand what you may need from them? Improving the English of staff whose first language it is not is all part of the language training mix.
Apart from its direct usefulness, language learning can be fantastic for all in team-building.
You may find that someone who is struggling in their work turns out to be a natural linguist, great for their self-esteem and potentially something that can be to the organisation’s advantage.
Can your company afford to stay mono-lingual?
At Chris Polatch Languages, we can send a teacher to you at lunchtimes or after work, or for 1:1 classes at any time.
All lessons are logged online by our teachers, and we keep a record of which staff have attended, accessible to your HR people.
You can book just 12 hours initially, to see how you get on, topping up with as few or as many hours as you like going forward.
We manage the whole course for you, checking in with you as often as you like to discuss progress. We’ll also supply reports if required and can recommend exams that can be taken in various languages to prove language competence.
Call: 0845 450 4909