Why Businesses Need to Invest in Foreign Language Training

Learning languages for business“Monoligualism is the Illiteracy of the 21st Century” British Academy.

According to the British Council, “Deficient language skills and the presumption that international business partners will speak English costs the UK economy about 3.5% of GDP”.

Businesses are expanding rapidly and one of the most common ways to do this is to tap into foreign markets. To do this successfully it is important to be able to communicate effectively with colleagues, suppliers and customers abroad to avoid embarrassing mistakes and problems. Employing foreign staff and learning a second language will open up many opportunities for your business. In this blog post we will discuss why now is the best time to invest in employee language training.

Cultural Awareness

When working with foreign clients, colleagues and suppliers it is vitally important that as well as speaking their language you also need to understand their culture and business etiquette. What is standard practice in the UK may not be in another country. You need to know how to dress at a business meeting, what time you should arrive, how to greet people and what to discuss at a first meeting.

It is important to learn the customs and habits in other countries. If you plan to work with people in Spain you would need to understand their working day – they tend to start work later, have lunch later, some close for several hours at lunch time and stay open later in the evening. If you plan to do business with Muslim countries you would need to bear in mind the times of the year when they fast and have their religious festivals.

If you don’t find out about and understand the cultural differences of the country where you plan to do business even a minor faux pas can make a huge difference between success and failure for your business.

Online Business

Nowadays more and more business is moving online. This makes is easy to tap into foreign markets if your website and marketing material is in the foreign language. If your website is only in English you are excluding foreign speaking potential customers and putting your business at a disadvantage compared with another company who makes their website available in other languages.

Making Good Connections

Being able to communicate well with foreign speaking staff, clients and suppliers is vital to develop successful business relationships. Even if you have a top class product or service if you cannot interact accurately with your clients and colleagues it will be difficult to form a strong alliance.

Being able to communicate effectively with foreign employees and customers not only breaks up cultural boundaries but also helps gain trust and respect.

Market Research

By getting to know your potential customers needs and wants you can target them perfectly with your product or service. If you are planning to move into foreign markets it is vital that you provide market research in the native language. What a smart move it would be if you had a team of market researchers who can speak the language fluently and can find out exactly what potential customers want.

Expand into International Markets = Increased Profits

By moving into foreign markets successfully you can clearly expand your business internationally and therefore increase profits quickly. The best way to do this and avoid problems is by hiring people who can speak the language of the country where you aim to target.

Important Foreign Languages for Business

The British Council has listed the languages that will be most important for the UK post-Brexit which you can read here.

  • Mandarin – Mandarin is an important language to know given its growing economy plus the fact there are approximately 900 million native speakers of Mandarin in the world.
  • Spanish – Spanish is an extremely popular language to learn especially in the UK. With markets opening up in Latin America as well as Spain’s recovering economy plus the fact it is the second language of the US it is a really beneficial language to know. Spanish has been listed by the British Council as one of the languages for the future. 
  • German – German is being increasingly used for business and according to the Independent it took over French as the language most sought after by employers.

Conclusion

As you can see the importance of being able to speak another language cannot be denied. Being able to communicate effectively with clients abroad and understanding their culture can help your business succeed internationally. Particularly with Brexit, less and less foreign speaking employees will come to live and work in Britain therefore it is so important that we invest more in the language skills of our British workforce.

If you would like to know how we can help your employees learn another language, contact us today.

 
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