21st October 2002
No Languages No Business!
MIDLAND companies may be losing out on more than 20% of international business opportunities because of the shortage of foreign language skills and cultural awareness amongst workers, according to the National President of the British Chamber of Commerce, Isabella Moore.
Isabella was speaking at a recent conference held at Aston University in Birmingham dedicated to British attitudes towards learning, teaching and using foreign languages. The aim of the conference was to examine the particular perspective of teaching languages in a multicultural context. Among issues raised were the advantages of bilingualism and ways of combating the misconception that "English is the language of business", which is currently putting British companies way behind their European counterparts.
With the numbers of students studying foreign languages dropping at all academic levels, this will inevitably have a knock-on effect on the linguistic and cultural awareness of Britain's businesses. With other countries in Europe, such as Germany, enjoying the advantages of the widespread ability to speak more than one language, British businesses could loose out to foreign companies who are more flexible and are willing to communicate with potential customers in languages other than their native tongue.�
"Language skills are vital to business success and are an important element of competitive advantage," said Isabella. "A successful economy must have employees who can operate on a global scale and that means speaking more than one language."�
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