Language fluency helps national competitiveness, notes academic

The ability to speak foreign languages gives a country an edge when it comes to international trading, an academic has pointed out.

Stephan Chambers, MBA programme director at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School, explained that it is the way that they allow for greater insight and understanding that improves national competitiveness, according to The Telegraph.

He said: “Despite the near ubiquity of English, it’s clear that there will be an increasing premium on managers who speak Mandarin, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic or Russian as the centres of business power move inexorably towards the new economic powerhouses of China and elsewhere.”

His remarks highlight the potential impact of recruiting people into bilingual jobs when a firm has ambitions of trading with overseas companies.

The newspaper’s finance commentator Leah Hyslop suggested the current economic climate puts added pressure on firms to do more international trade, which puts British language skills under the microscope.

Management Today‘s web reporter Emma Haslett also remarked that it is about time greater emphasis was placed on the importance of learning foreign languages.

In her opinion, there is almost a “perverse laziness” to the way so many Brits are incapable of speaking in another tongue, yet an understanding of another country’s culture and language can be key when it comes to trade deals.

by Paul Smithson on February 3, 2012

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