In an increasingly global world, the ability to communicate in multiple languages is becoming an imperative for the successful growth of any business. Lack of language skills can cause misunderstanding and conflict between international teams, suppliers and clients; impacting the bottom line. Developing an organisation-wide language learning strategy is key to breaking down communication barriers and building a truly global, collaborative organisation. Companies of all sizes benefit from strong language and communication skills.
In the UK only, the economy is losing around £50bn a year in missed business opportunities due to lack of language skills in the workforce. Companies know that expanding their operations globally requires a workforce that can communicate effectively in multiple languages. As they work towards this goal, companies are beginning to see that an investment in language learning is an efficient use of resources.
Without any dispute whatsoever, learning a foreign language widens the door to know more people. Because of people, generally trust you more if you can speak their language.
Bilinguals have been shown to have the ability to gain a more logical and rational thought process, than their monolingual counterparts.
With a foreign language, employees become adept at observing and focusing on relevant proceedings in the area of business interest.
It is not true that all business is done in English now. Even in Europe, many companies do not have English-speaking staff or their English language skills are not enough to do business. You buy in your own language but you sell in your customer’s, the old saying goes. We can update the second half of this: you sell in your customer’s choice of language. If customers insist on speaking their own language, you had better have people who can talk to them.
Language learning is not just about the ease of communication: knowing a language also means understanding a culture. The rapid growth of emerging markets in Asia and South America means an increase for many who are in contact with business partners in areas that are possibly alien to them. Sensitivity and maintaining a good relationship is vital when managing a business deal – understanding the differences between your culture and your business partner’s can make or break a business deal. Insensitivity or misunderstanding can have a huge impact on your reputation. However, understanding and appreciating cultural differences is not just about ensuring you avoid causing offence. Attitudes towards businesses, the way they are run and views on management styles can vary greatly from culture to culture.
Investing in language skills doesn’t necessarily mean just foreign languages. Despite English still dominating the international markets, over 60% of businesses in the UK have a gap in English skills. Training your international staff to speak English can also have a tremendous impact on all areas of your business.
At Busuu, we are confident that our methodology helps employees learn new languages and understand cultures with our award-winning mobile courses. Busuu is a language learning app with over 90 million users worldwide. We provide high-quality language courses created by our team of language experts and a social network to allow practice with native speakers.