Unit 1

ENGLISH IN BUSINESS


THE MORE, THE BETTER?


"English is more and more necessary for international business, but less and less sufficient"(Leonard Orban, EU Commissioner for Multilingualism)

1 Pre-reading task. Discuss the following questions in groups:

-People have always needed a common language to communicate. What language have they used for this purpose in Europe?

-What language have European community had as an international one in different periods of history?

-What language do you learn as a second language? How can you apply the knowledge of English in your future life? What are your ambitions?

2 Read the following statement. Do you agree or disagree? Prepare arguments to support your view. “English is more and more necessary for international business, but less and less sufficient”


PART I


3 Read, learn and keep in memory the following expressions, try to use them in your own sentences:

-public funding

-tangible return on investment

-to benefit from learning a foreign language

-competition for public funding

-market failure

-insufficient language skills

-the revealing results

-inadequate intercultural skills

-small-and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

-the total value of smth

-a quantifiable benefit

-to undertake a number of studies

-export markets

4 Read the first part of the text


YOUR BENEFITS FROM LEARNING A FOREIGN LANGUAGE


a) Why should you learn a foreign language? That might seem like a stupid question, particularly coming from a company that publishes language-learning magazines. Surely, the more foreign languages you can speak, the better. Yes, probably. But sometimes simple questions are not as stupid as they seem.

Of course, it's easy to think of reasons for learning languages. You can travel more easily, communicate with more people, and learn about other countries and cultures. Languages can also help you in your current job, or be an advantage if you want a new job.

b) But look again at that last paragraph. It's all about "you, you, you". You benefit privately from learning a foreign language. You benefit in your career, language skills benefit society more generally for example, by improving international understanding. And companies benefit from the language skills of their employees.

c) Anne Davidson Lund, a director of CILT, the National Centre for Languages in the UK. says: “figures speak more loudly than words in a climate where language learning is not an unquestioned right, where competition for public funding for education and training is intense, and where the prize goes to those who can show a tangible return on investment in terms of their nation's bank balance. Can we win that prize for languages?"

d) Lund argued that, if the business sector wants to secure more public funding for foreign-language education and training, it must show that language skills bring a quantifiable benefit to companies. Also, the business sector must show that there is "market failure": that is, firms are not currently getting all the language skills they need.

CILT has undertaken a number of studies to look into these questions. The most important one was the 2007 "ELAN" study {Effects on the European Union Economy of Shortages of Foreign Language Skills in Enterprisesee box, page 19) for the European Commission. This looked at firms in 29 European countries and tried to quantify the value of contracts lost because of insufficient language skills.

e) The results were revealing. The report found that there was a clear link between language skills and export success. And among a sample of 2,000 small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), 11 per cent said that they had lost contracts as a result of a lack of language skills. (In most countries, ten per cent said they had also lost contracts because of inadequate intercultural skills.) Some of these contracts were worth over €1 million, with the average being €345,000. The report estimated that the total value of lost business to the EU economy because of poor language skills in SMEs was around €100 billion a year.

f) The ELAN report identified four key elements of language management in companies that were successful in export markets:"... having a language strategy, appointing native speakers, recruiting staff with language skills and using translators and interpreters". An SME investing in all of these four elements was found to have an export-sales proportion 44.5 per cent higher than one that does not do so.

5 Read through the first part of the article quickly once more. Match each sentence 1-7 to the sentence a-g that should logically follow it.

1 Foreign languages can

2 You benefit privately

3 You can travel more easily, communicate with more people and

4 Language skills benefit society more generally by

5 The prize goes to those who can show a

6 If you want to secure more public funding for foreign-language training and educations…

7 Four key elements of language management for success in export markets are:

  1. it must show that language skills bring a quantifiable benefit to companies

  2. improving international understanding

  3. a language strategy, appointing native speakers, recruiting staff with language skills and using translators and interpreters

  4. also help you in your current job

e ) learn about other countries and cultures

f) tangible return on investment in terms of their nation’s bank balance

g) from learning a foreign language

6 Think about the questions to paragraphs A-F which require the answers, presenting the main idea of each paragraph.


PART II


1. Read, learn and remember the following expressions, try to use them in your own sentences:

-to make recommendations for improving language skills

-regional and minority languages

-linguistic diversity

-to gain a competitive advantage

-less sufficient

-mother tongue

-to deal with different languages

-the importance of implementing strategies for developing the language skills

-disseminating best practices on language strategies

-targeting the official language

-to master the language of the consumers

-to have access to the behaviour and attitudes of others

-to target English as a priority

-to meet companies’ language needs

-challenges facing multinational companies

-to integrate employees into their workforces

2 Read the text

COMPANIES SHOULD INVEST MORE IN FOREIGN-LANGUAGE SKILLS

Following the ELAN report, Leonard Orban, the EU Commissioner for Multilingualism, set up the "Business Forum for Multilingualism" to make recommendations for improving language skills in EU companies Orban speaks about the role of foreign languages in business.

1) Why is multilingualism so important for the EU?

The EU already has 23 official languages, more than 60 regional and minority languages and hundreds of other languages spoken by people originally from outside the EU. We now want to make full use of this linguistic diversity. We want to show that, rather than being a burden, it is an asset for the EU for cultural, educational and professional reasons. Also, EU companies can gain a competitive advantage through foreign language skills. But one of the main ideas from the Business Forum for Multilingualism is that English is not enough. English is more and more necessary for international business, but less and less sufficient.

2) So, how good are the language skills of EU citizens?

We are still a long way from our goal of every citizen learning at least two foreign languages. Only 28 per cent of European citizens are able to speak at least two foreign languages. And nearly half of European citizens can speak only their mother tongue.

3) What role should companies play here?

Companies should invest more in developing the abilities of their workers to deal with different languages. I think especially at the level of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) there is not enough awareness of the importance of languages other than English and of the importance of implementing strategies for developing their employees' language skills. So we have made a number of recommendations in the report on ways to help firms. Of course, increased financial support should be considered at the EU level, but also at national, regional and local levels. But we also propose a new European internet platform for collecting and disseminating best practices on language strategies.

4) But are language skills only the companies' responsibility?

No, it's a shared responsibility. The European institutions also have a contribution to make, but so do the member states through improvements in their education systems. And so do individuals themselves.

5) Latin is still one of the most common foreign languages taught in educational institutions. Shouldn't this time and effort be spent more usefully on modern foreign languages?

Our task in the European Commission is to defend and promote the linguistic diversity in Europe. That means targeting mainly the official languages of the EU. So, we look less at languages like Latin or ancient Greek. But these languages, even though they are no longer tools of communication, can be useful in terms of personal development. So we are not against these languages. But we would encourage people to learn a large variety of European languages. There are so many languages for example, those of neighbouring countries in the EU, or of non-EU countries and people should choose whatever languages they want.

6) When you say people should learn two foreign languages, do you mean two EU languages?


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