International Language Proficiency– Critical Skill for Expanding Global Companies: Lack of Language Skills– Kills Business…

Representatives that speak on behalf of international companies must have the ability to not only speak the language of the culture, but to clearly and accurately convey the full meaning of the message…

International language proficiency is critical skill for expanding companies, globally. Globalization is everywhere, and the need to bridge language gaps between international businesses must begin with clear and accurate knowledge and understand of different languages and cultures…

Losing business because of misunderstandings of language and culture can cost a company millions of dollars; language is an important differentiator and a competitive edge. Developing new business, especially negotiating complex contracts; increasingly requires a full knowledge of the language and culture of the region.

According to Elisabeth Lord Stuart; the lack of language skills among business people is enormous barrier for expanding into global markets. Developing trust with international customers and partners requires language and cultural skills. High proficiency in language produces better relationships and moves the business development process along more quickly…

Successful businesses recognize the need, in their international activities, to be accurate culturally, linguistically; and domestically with multi-lingual communities. Also, the development of customer loyalty requires knowledge and sensitivity to the host culture; where there may be the potential for lack of trust– and commensurate loss of business– underscores importance of a ‘useful’ knowledge of language and culture. As one business person put it– winning the war for talent is increasingly important for global business growth, and for domestic customers with language needs.

According to Jeff Standridge, Acxiom; we must  more than just build-up workforces in various geographies; we must work seamlessly across enterprise, regardless of location. That requires us to overcome any language barriers that exist between workers in different geographies. Without the ability to communicate clearly and effectively in both directions, than significant risks begin to enter the equation, including; lower quality, lost productivity, and increased training costs. By addressing these critical needs early on, companies like ours can see significant financial impact with global initiatives.

According to Tony Padilla, Boeing; ensuring you attract and retain top talent for globally competitive company requires an investment in developing cultural awareness and language skills in the workforce. Hiring managers must possess the skills necessary to recognize and assess this vital combination of global abilities, while each day creating and maintaining an open and inclusive environment that is sensitive to a multi-lingual workforce.

Ultimately, the key challenge for companies is to identify good talent with language skills… However, the lack of understanding and commitment from senior management to recognize the need for language skills, internally, will undermine the support for those skills… Management often considers language skills a ‘soft’ issue that does not require immediate or concerted efforts for change…

In the article Global Business Speaks English by Tsedal Neeley writes: Ready or not, English is the global language of business. More and more multinational companies are mandating English as the common corporate language in an attempt to facilitate better communication and performance across geographically diverse functions and business endeavors. Adopting a common mode of speech isn’t just a good idea; it’s a must, even for a U.S. company with operations overseas…

However, adopting a global language policy is not easy, and companies invariably stumble along the way. It’s radical, and almost certain to meet with staunch resistance from employees. However, to survive–thrive in a global economy, companies must overcome language barriers– and English will almost always be the common ground, at least for now.

The fastest-spreading language in human history, English is spoken, at a useful level, by some 1.75 billion people worldwide– that’s one in every four people. There are close to 385 million native speakers in countries like; U.S., Australia… about a billion fluent speakers in formerly colonized nations, such as; India, Nigeria… and millions of people around the world who’ve studied it as a second language.

An estimated 565 million people use it on the internet. The benefits of ‘Englishnization’ are significant; however, relatively few companies have systematically implemented an English-language policy with sustained results…

In the article Top 3 Useful Foreign Languages for Business Excludes Spanish by Susana Kim writes: What are the top three most useful languages for business after English? Surprisingly, Spanish didn’t make the cut despite being official language of 20 countries and spoken by over 329 million people, according to Bloomberg Ranking. Not surprising, Mandarin Chinese is the most useful language for business after English, spoken by 845 million people in the world’s second-largest economy, China. French (No. 2) and Arabic (No. 3) follow, with Spanish ranking fourth. Russian, Portuguese, Japanese, German, Italian, Korean, and Turkish followed.

To create the list, Bloomberg Rankings identified the 25 languages with the greatest number of native speakers, than narrowed the list to the 11 official languages of G20 countries, excluding those that designated English. French is spoken by 68 million people worldwide and the official language of 27 nations. Arabic, which is spoken by 221 million people, is the official language in 23 nations;

According to Bloomberg. Bloomberg notes their list differs from the top foreign languages studied in U.S. colleges in 2009 from The Modern Language Association, published in December 2010. Spanish topped that list with 864, 986 enrollment, dwarfing French which followed next with 216, 419 (No. 2), German (No. 3), American Sign Language (No. 4), Italian (No. 5), Japanese (No. 6), Chinese (No. 7), Arabic (No. 8), Latin (No. 9), and Russian (No. 10)…

In the article Workers Told, Ditch Local Languages for English by Rose Hoare writes:  While English is the de facto language of international business, more multinational companies are now mandating that employees communicate only in English. According to Tsedal Neeley, a professor at Harvard Business School; companies with employees in different countries needing to collaborate — whether it’s to integrate technology or cater to customers worldwide– managers and employees with international assignments must have a common language in order to communicate with each other.

This can be very bewildering for employees… From an assignment Neeley reported– that two years into English-only implementation at a company, 70% of employees reported feeling frustrated with the policy. Business must plan carefully before implementing English-only policy. In absence of a clear language strategy, people will be confused, hurt, diminished… Shifting a company’s entire operations into a new language isn’t easy.

What is Globish? English is the global language of business, yet English is also the native tongue of relatively few people, and it’s notoriously hard to learn. What can be done? According to Jean-Paul Nerriere; the answer is a new language: Globish. Globish is a kind of simplified English that is vastly easier to use and works almost as well as full command of the language, in most business situations.

The secret is employ stripped-down version of the vocabulary, crucially avoid all figurative language, and never tell jokes. There is a list of about 1,500 English words that can be used to communicate just about anything…

Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker; observed that Globish is– overwhelming phenomenon– the language for non-English speaking business person closing deals with help of a small arsenal of English words… The  need for global language is a big part of globalization and dominance of English looks inevitable for long time to come. People with gift for learning languages will have a big advantage… But, for everyone else, why not start with Globish?

In the article U.S. Falls Behind in Foreign Languages by Joseph Picard writes: The U.S., in general, is not proficient in global languages. According to experts, this is not good for the nation, not good for humanity, and not good for the individual mono-linguist. U. S. needs a national commitment to strengthening its global languages proficiency.

According to Leon Panetta, CIA; to stay competitive in the global society, the U.S. needs more people with language proficiency. A number of reports over past several years point to shortage of translators in U.S. military and other agencies that work overseas and how that shortage affects knowledge, understanding of culture, and an ability to work together with foreign people and organizations. A significant cultural change needs to occur, which requires a transformation in attitude from everyone involved: individuals, government, schools and universities and private sector.

According to Arne Duncan; schools, colleges, universities… need to invest more in linguistic instruction.

According to Rush Holt; we need to alter dramatically how children learn language at an early age, and government should focus its efforts on teaching languages in grades K-12.

According to John Carlino; ability to communicate in other languages and cross-cultural skills are essential components of 21st century education. While English may be global language in business world, it’s important to point out that if everyone else speaks the language, but we don’t speak other languages or understand other cultures; we are at huge disadvantage in the global market.

According to Martha Abbott; it’s naïve to say ‘the world speaks English’ therefore I don’t need a foreign language… Who has the advantage in business when they know your language, but you don’t know theirs?

According to Stephan Chambers, Oxford University; speaking English was almost a precondition for success for non-native speakers, even though a second language was not essential to English speakers. However, if the question is: Is learning a second language an advantage, and is that advantage going to increase? Almost certainly, as the balance of economic power shifts, and as supply chains, sales, deals… start happening outside of the traditional western markets.

According to Jocelyn Wyburd, Cambridge University; opportunities presented by emerging BRICS economies and Latin America are making their languages particularly attractive to businesses and students – especially as Europe and North America struggle. However, it’s important to know that language for business purposes alone may prove shortsighted. The usefulness of language in business will rise and fall with unpredictable shifts in the global economy…

Remember, language is socially constructed, and therefore embedded in culture. Understanding the embedded meanings requires mastering the language and knowing the culture, which can be very difficult.

Most important, misinterpreting words or cultural meanings often has negative effects on entire communication interchange. In the case of business deals, it’s a deal-breaker…