700 Reasons to Learn a Language: Do Businesses Need Languages?


Today, I would like to share with you some reasons businesses should consider investing in language learning education. I wouldn’t narrow it to those businesses who export or trade internationally; moreover, the below examples are mainly related to the international and tourist fields.

It’s obvious that languages play an important role in international business, but I think that their role is crucial on every level of business: from selling and negotiations to writing a website or proposal.

Below, you’ll find 7 quotations which were first published in articles and books, such as Language Learning Journal, Business Communication Across Borders and English as a Global Language. The complete list of extracts and their original sources can be found on the LLAS website. (Sadly, the LLAS Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies has now ended its activities, but you can still access their content.)

“One in every five British exporters (Statistics from Metra Martech) knows it is losing overseas business through its inability to overcome language and cultural differences”


 “You are far more likely to gain your customer’s respect and to be able to play a controlling part in business negotiations if you are able to communicate directly in his/her language.”


“With the numbers of foreign visitors coming to the UK, it is obvious that those who work in tourist-related industries really ought to have some knowledge of languages. A good service can only really be delivered to foreign visitors if there are people on hand who can understand what they have to say and are happy to converse with them in their language, and not just in English”


“In line with ‘softer’ approaches of modern business theory, the importance of human communication is increasingly stressed. Language, including foreign language – is seen as key to such communication and real interchange”


“Failure to ‘culturally adapt’ sales and marketing material is a major cause of cross-cultural miscommunication. Moreover, companies which have successfully mastered adaptation have usually done so by adopting a ‘language’ or communication strategy in the first place”


“15% of the firms involved in a Language Advantage survey in 2001 recognise that they have lost business because of the language skill factor or cultural barriers. One individual even claimed to have lost half a million pounds of business per year because of it”


“Buy in your native language, sell in the customer’s language”


Quite powerful, don’t you think? Do you use languages in your business when trading internationally? Do you have international staff members? Please share your comments below.

Written by Kinga Macalla

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