Why it’s time for businesses to invest in foreign language instruction
We talk often about the importance of a second language for our careers. Speaking more than one language might bring us incredible work opportunities we haven’t yet considered, or act as a bargaining tool when asking for a pay rise. But why does the onus on language learning fall solely on the individual, when so much emphasis is placed on businesses expanding into global markets? Here are some reasons why it is time for businesses to invest in foreign language instruction for their employees.
Photo via Pixabay
Doing business online
So much of our world is now digital that it makes sense for so many of our businesses to be based almost entirely online. Of course, this creates the potential to expose a business to an international market with little effort, though if you only provide your website in English, you are automatically excluding non-English speaking clients. The internet has made us impatient, with so many of us demanding information and answers immediately. So why would a client go to the effort of putting your website through a translator, when with one click they could just find another company who already has the information available in the language they speak?
So what is the solution? You could outsource the translation of those pages into other languages. Or you can invest in language training for your own staff who know your products far better than anyone else, and have them create those pages instead. Who is more likely to have your company voice, and get across the messages you want to reach your potential customers?
Photo via Pixabay
Marketing and getting to know your customers
Conducting market research can be crucial to success in business, wherever you are based in the world. This is the perfect opportunity to find out what your customers need, how and where they will buy products, and how your business can be more appealing to customers on the whole. What better impression can you create with future potential clients than by having a team of market researchers who are fluent in their language and understand them?
Of course, learning a new language gives you more than just the knowledge to effectively communicate. Every language that you learn also teaches you at least a little about the culture of those who speak it. Why is this important for growing and establishing a business? Because we are all different, and what is a standard practice for one country can be very different elsewhere.
Think about how the working day is arranged in countries like Spain for staff to take lunch breaks around the hottest period of the day. Consider countries who are predominantly Muslim and incorporate prayers into their working days, and periods of the year during which staff and customers will be fasting. Even the slightest cultural faux pas can make a huge difference between a successful business venture and a failed one. We have to understand how a local market behaves in order to stand a chance of breaking into it; our way is not always going to be theirs. A business investing in language learning is also investing in cultural understanding, and in doing so will better understand both its staff and its customers.
Photo via Pixabay
Communication is key
Whether you are trying to communicate with potential customers or holding a Skype meeting between international offices, effective communication is essential. We joke about things getting lost in translation, yet misunderstandings because of language barriers can be the deciding factor in potential sales, and effective working relationships between colleagues. Communication underpins everything in business, from the way we speak in our corporate social media accounts to the small talk we make in the office when taking a tea break. An investment in language learning aids that communication and can even be viewed as a team building activity if employees are learning together.
Our world is constantly changing and so are our global markets and customers’ needs; how better to future-proof your company than by investing in language training for your staff? If you are looking to provide language learning for your team or considering learning a language for yourself, why not get in touch? Our courses are tailormade and will fit into any schedule whatever your needs. Drop us a quick enquiry so we can get you started.