France is a country rich in history, far richer than a simple article or blog post can define. This history can be uncovered by visiting France and then uncovered more by speaking the wonderful, so-called, language of love, French.
France is a country the English love to hate, it is a country that many believe is the birthplace of romance and a place where people eat frogs legs and know the difference between Champagne and fizzy wine. These are just side stories to a country that is an important political player in Europe, a master player on the world wine market and a country that is home to just shy of 67 million people of which 15% are immigrants, imports or just plain foreigners.
French is the considered the language of love, and those who take the time to learn the language will soon discover that it is much richer than “Je t’adore” and “Bonsoir mademoiselle”. The French language is officially a Romance language, not romance as is love but as in Romanic, but perhaps it is all about love in a way. The language itself stems from something that sounds far less romantic, evolving from Vulgar Latin between the sixth and ninth centuries and some 800 million people now speak language around the world.
French is a popular language to learn, but what about the country of France, what is its history? Anyone visiting France will instantly realise that the French are passionate, beyond merely patriotic, about their country and they have every right to be so. Being able to speak French will enable you to get a little deeper into French history on your next visit. But in short, France has a wonderful, colourful, chequered and at times fascinating past.
The country we call France can be tracked back to the Iron Age and the land mass that makes up the country from North to South was once the bulk of what Rome called Gaul. The Romans noted three languages, dialects or linguistic groups in the region: the Gauls, the Aquitani, and the Belgae. In the first thousand years BC France was colonised by the Greeks, Romans and Carthaginians and Southern Gaul was annexed. The Gallic wars eventually saw France (Gaul) become integrated into the then Roman Emperor and there are still many reminders of this, none more better than Pont du Gard, the world famous roman aqueduct still operational today.
Over time, what is now France, saw dynasties and kings and queens come and go with notable historical figures rising up through a series of conflicts known better as the Hundred Year’s war. One such well-known name was a young peasant girl who became a national heroine. Joan of Arc was one of many who throughout the history of France is still held high today.
The French Revolution in the 1800s saw the monarchy thrown out with the country governed as a republic until Napoleon Bonaparte declared France the “French Empire”. He was soon defeated in the Napoleonic wars and France went back and forth between Monarchy and Republic for many years until 1870.
The First World War was marked by many deaths and France became a battlefield and grave for many young men. Fighting alongside the United Kingdom, Russia, Italy and the Allies against Germany saw France become one of the saddest places on earth in a war that was said to be the war to end all wars. But, it was not to be.
France was invaded and conquered by Nazi Germany in 1940 only to be liberated after 4 long, painful years of war. The people of France never gave up; the French resistance to this day are still considered some of the bravest, most valiant people who fought in World War II. Upon liberation, France and her people became major players on the world stage, peacekeepers, and became permanent members of the UN Security Council and NATO, immediately after the war. Today France is strong economically, culturally and politically with its military forces active against the war on terror that is taking place today. France is important and her people know it.
France is a country rich in history, far richer than a simple article or blog post can define. This history can be uncovered by visiting France and then uncovered more by speaking the wonderful, so-called, language of love, French.
You can't use body language over the telephone.... if you don't have the word, there is no communication. Between friends it may not matter, but when your business is on the line, you have to learn the language. English speaking Australians sometimes become complacent and have the attitude of "let the rest of the world learn English as a common language, we're OK!"
French is the official language of diplomacy and the Olympics, but English is more important in academic and business dealings, along with a choice of Asian languages, but which one?
A past student of ours, Darren, decided on Japanese.... "languages are interesting", he says. "I have Japanese friends, so it took off from there. The course will be most useful for future employment in the area of tourism, hopefully in Japan." Once he had decided to learn Japanese, Darren did some research and spoke to a variety of language schools who taught Japanese. He chose VLLC because it offered an individualised, fast track method, particularly geared toward using the language within the vocational arena. He has also really enjoyed the course.
Students have to be excited about what they are going to do with their language. When you learn with a specific goal in mind it helps you to retain the language more easily and it also allows us to gear all your tutorials to your requirements, VLLC gets you thinking and communicating in your new language from day one rather than focusing on grammar, because that always involves English. The course can also be completed completely online! A whole new language can be learned through pictures and mimicking the native speaking instructors. Script and correct sentence construction will follow naturally from the conversation and from specialised writing classes.
VLLC has many corporate clients whose executives and tourism staff can quickly learn the language of overseas clients and business partners. It can also be instrumental in getting unemployed people back to work, or giving them an edge for career change. The big advantage of individual tuition is that VLLC can tailor a course to suit an individual's vocation. Once people are serious about learning a language, they can look upon it as part of their professional training. The students motivation is a vital factor. Language learning is no longer intimidating but can open doors to new adventures.
‘ I feel pretty stupid that I don’t know any foreign languages’ Bill Gates.
It might seem a hard notion to grasp that the Microsoft founder and prolific philanthropist regrets not learning a second language. Gates, 62, should now have plenty of time to pursue that passion. In 2008 he retired from his day-to-day role at Microsoft and only in 2014 handed over his role as chairman of the company. We think learning a language is imperative to gaining recognition in the overseas workplace and mastering a local language is a step in the right direction at developing deeper business relationships and winning the hearts and minds of target markets.
Here are the top 7 languages to boost your employment potential
1. Spanish Of all the languages in the world, Spanish is the language our online translation agency works with the most, reflecting an enormous market the world over. Aside from the huge potential of almost all of South and Central America with emerging economic powerhouses such as Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia and Venezuela -- not to mention the significant market in Spain itself -- learning Spanish is worth it if only to reach the Hispanic speaking community in the U.S., whose purchasing power is already more than a trillion dollars and growing. As opposed to its spoken dialects, Spanish written forms are more uniform than other languages which makes them simpler to learn. As a Romance language, with the same letters and roots as English, you’ll probably twist your tongue a lot less than when learning Chinese.
2. French French is a very important language to learn for those who are looking to succeed in the world of business. Many people do not know is that French was considered the international lingua franca – a common language with which people all around the world can converse – for quite some time, until the rise of the British and American empires brought English into prominence. There are still many companies and individuals around the world that prefer to do business in French, and many African and Mediterranean countries that were once French colonies or territories. Because of this, French is spoken widely throughout the world, with about 335 million total speakers.
3. Chinese There are dozens of different languages and dialects spoken in China, and while Mandarin is by far the most widely spoken -- in fact, it’s the most prevalent language in the world with 1.1 billion native speakers -- other Chinese dialects are spoken by hundreds of millions of people. Wu, for example, used in the financial hub of Shanghai, is spoken by more than 80 million people -- that’s a potential market the size of Germany! Depending on what area of China you're targeting and the fact that written dialects in the country are basically uniform, learning Wu, Jin, Min or Yue will certainly be worth the effort.
4. Russian Russia has a market nearly 150 million strong, seemingly endless natural resources and a burgeoning IT sector. Plus, the language is also spoken to varying degrees in post-Soviet states (for almost 300 million speakers in all) -- many important emerging economies themselves -- making it number nine on our most-translated list. Knowing Russian will go a long way toward winning the trust of local business leaders. And you can read Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky in the original.
5. Arabic Hundreds of millions of people around the world speak Arabic -- the fifth most-spoken language in the world -- so it comes as no surprise that Arabic is number 10 on our list. The Arab world, with a growing online culture, doesn’t have its own Amazon or Alibaba, making it a market with huge potential, not to mention the deep petro-economies of the region. Executives who speak their language are going to have a leg up in this cross-continental market. The drawback? With dozens of distinct varieties of spoken Arabic, choosing the right one will be a daunting process.
6. German German is the second most-translated language at our agency, reflecting the country’s status as Europe’s largest economy and one of strongest economies in the world. Enough said. Learning a foreign language may be a major investment of time and energy, but speaking even a rudimentary level of a country’s native tongue goes a long way to breaking down walls.
7. Japanese Long at the forefront of the world’s technology, Japan is the hub of the robotics that is poised to upend the way we think about business, and even society, in the coming decades. If companies are looking to break into this up-and-coming scene, knowing how to speak Japanese would be very useful. According to Wikipedia, “Japan employs over a quarter of a million industrial robot workers. In the next 15 years, Japan estimates that number to jump to over one million and they expect revenue for robotics to be near $70 billion by 2025.” Robotics or anything else, revenue of that size might be something to consider being a part of.
In recent years, the Middle East has exploded as a business destination. The growth of cities such as Dubai and Doha has made them hubs for international travellers, and with this, the cities have become central points for doing business. Doing business in the Middle East is not too challenging, and Arab countries are extremely open to doing international business. Having an understanding of business etiquette and a grasp of the Arabic language can and will make a tremendous difference to doing business in the region.
For thousands of years the Middle East has been a trading hub. It has been on trade routes for gems, spices and in times gone by, slaves as far back as man can remember. The Arab world is extremely civilised and appreciation of this with simple good manners, hellos and goodbyes makes all the difference.
Calendar and Weekends. One of the biggest mistakes newcomers to the Arab world make is the working week. Only 3 countries, Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia work what the western world call a working week. All other countries use Friday and Saturday as their weekend. Don’t head into the Middle East hoping to get a meeting on a Friday as chances are it won’t happen. Secondly, there is an overlap in calendars used, while Arab countries tend to use the Gregorian calendar for business and many other activities, the Islamic Lunar Calendar is an influence when it comes to religious activity. Familiarising oneself with the likes of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha for example will be tremendously beneficial.
Arabs and language. As with most nations, Arabs are extremely proud of their language. Even the most basic understanding of the Arabic language can be helpful, but a more fluent understanding will demonstrate deep respect among those one is doing business with. Very often there are almost formal or expected greetings and responses such as As-salaam alaykum when initially meeting, being traditionally followed by Wa alaykum as-salaam.
Like most languages, Arabic has a formal and informal form. Having a good grasp of the language will lower barriers between parties fairly quickly, once it is known you speak Arabic. Very often you will be politely asked to be less formal. However, should a person senior to your guest enter the meeting, conversation may revert to formal out of respect, should the person be unfamiliar.
A control of the Arabic language will grow ones understanding of the people and culture. A deep respect for Allah is prominent, and this may take some getting used to, but politeness and gentleness will make things easier. With the understanding of the Arabic language and culture settling in to the ways of the region will become less difficult.
Time and hard bargains. Time, it seems, in the Arab world, moves at a slower pace. It would not be unusual for a meeting to begin an hour or an hour and half late, there is no rush. Interruptions to meetings will not be uncommon, and meetings may extend a great deal longer than planned. Arabs are, and always have been traders. They have all the time in the world to get the deal they want. It may be a little uncomfortable, and you may feel a little pressured to negotiate, so don’t say you have not been warned. Having an understanding of Arabic will make negotiations easier and may result on more favourable terms. The value of speaking Arabic will pay off for anyone doing business in the Middle East, and once a deal has been struck strong bonds will remain.
Arabic people are genuine, honest and very welcoming. Treated with respect in their own language you will win not only superb business partners, but very welcome friends.
Is your language course claimable as a self-education expense?
Do you need to learn a language to help you do your job better? Self-education expenses are deductible when the course you undertake leads to a formal qualification. To claim a deduction for self-education expenses, you must have met one of the following conditions when you incurred the expense:
The information contained in this article may not necessarily relate to you and you would need to confirm your eligibility with your own accountant.
Check out the following links for more info from the ATO:
Despite some of the challenges Italy faces, such as high public debt, low growth and regular political change, it also has some contrary elements such as low private debt and a sophisticated manufacturing base. Northern Italy is amongst the wealthiest regions in Europe. As the third largest economy in the Eurozone, Italy is home to some major multinationals and has a large sophisticated consumer market. The industrial sector is characterised by Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and family businesses, often with a strong regional focus. While subject to EU regulations, there is often local regulations which must adhered to. (reference www.Austrade.gov.au. Italy's export industry includes motor vehicles, chemicals, energy, food and fashion but many employees working in Italy find themselves in the hospitality and tourism industries. This industry is really important to Italy as the country has an annual 46 million visitors.
If you are looking for employment in the service industry there are more job offers in the north, whereas the south is a little more rural based. As said above from the Austrade information, Northern Italy is amongst the wealthiest region in Europe. According to www.internations.org, some typical fields of employment which include automotive engineering, the chemical industry, construction, electronics, finance, and logistics are struggling. However, the tourism industry appears to have stabilized, and there are still job opportunities in green technology, food and drinks, as well as mechanical engineering.
If you would like to work in Italy however, you must ensure you have acquired for yourself a social security number and some health insurance. The social security application will only need to be applied for in a single instance. Your Italian employer will also have to register you with social security. If you are wanting to work in Italy under your own self employment idea you must apply for a work visa. You need to commence working on this long before you entered the country and starting your new business.
If you are looking for a job in Italy, outside specific foreign assignment, you need to be prepared for the reality that employment openings are usually given to the Italians. It can be very useful however, to offer a certain skill or expertise in some area which may be struggling to meet the qualified labour need. Whatever you consider to be your plan, it would be beneficial to learn Italian before you go. Talk like a local and increase your job opportunities and total cultural experience of working in a foreign country.
Working overseas is what many people dream of. It is more than just the work, it is the travel, the adventure, the challenge and for many the chance to earn more money. But how can you improve your chances of getting a job overseas? There are a number of ways to improve your chances of working overseas. There is also one sure thing that will put you in the running more than others.
Get the facts: The first thing to do is get as much information as you can about the country, city or company you wish to work for overseas. If you are already employed in the company and are eyeing an overseas position having as much information as possible about the country and city is still vitally important. By having the information you will be well equipped to answer any questions that may arise. Being able to answer the question “why do you want to work in this country?” with facts and something that will show are taking it seriously will help you.
Network: There is a very good chance that you know someone working overseas in the country you wish to work in. Using social media reach out and start asking questions. Let people in the places you want to work know that you are looking and keep in touch. This way when a job does come up you will spring to mind.
Know the industry or job well: Knowing the industry you are working in or wish to work well will often increase your chances of a getting a job overseas. Many big companies employ many foreign nationals in many countries; there is something to be said for a diversity of cultures. However, knowing the industry or the role you wish to work in well will make you stand out from others. Overseas work is highly competitive and not all roles are equal, normal job hunting rules do not apply.
The one sure thing? Language. Language. Language. The word language has been repeated three times for a reason. Speaking the language, showing you have taken or are taking the time to learn another language is the number one way to improve your chances of getting an overseas job. You may be Australian, have great friends in France and be a great systems architect but if you cannot speak French then you stand less of chance of getting that job in the Paris office over the person who speaks French. Even someone learning French has a better chance.
A job overseas is not just about doing the work and hoping those you work with speak your language, primarily English. An overseas Job means living in the country and conversing with locals of which a large number may not speak your language. By speaking the language, you automatically become a better fit for job, having taken the time to learn you have shown determination and dedication to further yourself and many employers are looking for this. Speaking French, German, Polish or any other language automatically opens up, and yes maybe improves, your chances of getting that dream job overseas. With a language, you become valuable; companies are looking for you rather than you looking for them.
In short, if you want to leapfrog yourself into a job overseas go and learn a new language. You will not regret it.
In South East Asia’s Indochina peninsula lays the country of Thailand, formerly the Siam so well portrayed in the musical The King and I. For many,
Thailand is known for its wonderful food made with fragrant spices creating a flavour that is uniquely Thai and for vacations, massages and honeymoons. With images of practicing yoga in peaceful lush surroundings with a statue of Buddha in the background, Thailand is a place that many people have on their bucket list.
But Thailand is not just great food and vacations, and with a population rapidly approaching 70 million, Thailand is a country open for business. Over the last decade, doing business in and with Thailand has been made a great deal easier having implemented a number of reforms that have benefited entrepreneurs and seen new businesses grow. These benefits have seen regulatory hurdles fall and a greater integration and use of technology such as electronic documentation being accepted as business standards.
Thailand is most certainly open for business and whilst to the outsider Thailand would seem to be primarily a country that thrives on tourism, and tourism does play a huge part, it should be noted that more than 50% of the population are employed in the agricultural sector that accounts for less than 10% of the GDP of Thailand. Industry in Thailand has grown on the back of the large numbers employed in agriculture and whilst directly it only accounts for 10% of the GDP it indirectly influences the rest of the economy.
But what about doing business in Thailand on the ground? With the growth in entrepreneurial business, one can expect to be dealing with a new generation of business owner or manager, many will speak English especially those who are determined to break into international markets but, and again, this goes back in a way to the large number employed in agriculture, being able to speak the local language, Thai, is essential for trade to really begin.
Thailand’s tourism sector has grown, and in this industry, English is almost a must, but for those areas less touched by tourism that want the same success, often rural or remote areas that are stunningly beautiful, language becomes the barrier. Even an executive who has Thai speaking guides or staff may feel a little excluded from the dealings and conversation without even the smallest amount of spoken Thai.
The Thai language is a powerful tool for any business or person looking to trade beyond the stereotypical Thailand of Buddha's and Massages that are a little more outside Phuket and Bangkok. Speaking the language breaks down barriers and further opens up opportunities the country has created. Even in the boardrooms of Bangkok, speaking Thai makes an impact, it shows respect, and if you have the wherewithal to learn the language you will be seen as a person worth doing business with.
Thailand is sneakily making its way up the ranks of countries that are easy to deal with and learning the language may just get you in to a growth market sooner than the rest. With the language you can have the pleasure of doing business in Thailand and enjoy the pleasure that Thailand is renowned for.
Japan is a country steeped in tradition and culture, and ensuring business etiquette is met in Japan in line with the traditions and culture is often the biggest fear for any person doing business with the Japanese. A great deal of the etiquette is common decency and politeness, but having some knowledge of what should or should not be done in a meeting, goes a very long way.
Perhaps the most common of all known elements of Japanese business culture, is the bow. It is common courtesy. Some people would say that it is better not to bow at all than to bow badly, but, the Japanese are very forgiving. If it is your first time doing business in Japan I am sure you will be respected. In communication prior any meeting, it is well worth while indicating this so when you do bow your client or host will understand and respect the fact that you are nonetheless aware of custom and are at least trying to conform. Do not offer a handshake immediately on a first time meeting and rather wait for the handshake to be offered to you, most people will offer one.
Another curious point about doing business in Japan is the seating. If your host is seated, do not wait to be asked to sit, it is considered polite to sit with your host. If none of your hosts are seated, do not break the ice and be the first, there is a certain hierarchy that is followed, the host or more senior of your hosts must sit first and then others will follow.
Much of the culture around business is common sense. Don’t rush and take your time, and with everything, being conservative is recommended. Don’t be brash, forceful or demanding as this can be disrespectful, and never dress in flash clothes or use expensive pens to make you look good, better or wealthier. Just be yourself. The Japanese are not easily impressed by money and showing off. And a little secret, only ever sign in blue or black ink unless instructed to do so otherwise.
Once you have settled in with your host or client, you will need to make conversation. Many Japanese businessmen speak very good English, but, speaking Japanese, even just a few phrases can make a tremendous impact on the person you are with.
Having an understanding of culture and etiquette is one thing but being able to converse in Japanese is something entirely different.
The Japanese language may seem a challenging language to learn but in actual fact it is not, English as a second language is by far the most complex and your Japanese counterpart is having to or has had to work a great deal harder to learn English than you have Japanese. Speaking the language creates trust and confidence. Your host will tell you things he or she would not it they were speaking another language with which they struggled, merely because they do not know how, or how to say it correctly. So much can be lost in translation but taking the time to learn the language and just do a little bit of research into doing business in Japan goes a very long way.
This will be different for everyone. There are so many reasons and advantages. So many things that pull at our heart strings and our imagination. Some of us are looking to be able to connect socially in our own environment. By delving into someone else’s culture and language we feel a stronger connection to that person and find it can enrich the bonds that we forge with each other.
Some of us are just looking for a bit of fun and adventure, something different to what is already part of our everyday lives. Learning a language can open our minds and expand our world even if we never leave our own land. It’s true that sometimes we are so comfortable in our own worlds that we never step out of that comfort zone. Over time this can cause our worlds and attitudes to shrink and can sometimes make it harder for us to break out of the mould and try new things.
Learning a language can not only challenge our brains and give us another focus other than what we normally see but it can help to open up our thought processes and cultural awareness to accept and understand something beyond ourselves.
Travel is obviously another motivator for language. If we are travelling to foreign lands we can rely on interpreters, on the locals knowing our language or on fumbling around with our interpretation of sign language to make ourselves understood. But what are we really looking for when we travel? To see something different, experience new things and to make memories to take with us into the future. How much different will our travel experience be if we can make ourselves known to the stall owner in the market place or to the café assistant as we sit on the sidewalk under the striped awning enjoying the morning sunshine in some far away land. Imagine the little bits of local knowledge that could lead us to that special shop, tucked away that the tourist never finds, just because we could understand the local lingo. Is that what you’re looking for?
How about work? There are those of us who want or need to upskill to be able to give that exceptional customer service that makes us stand out from the crowd. Those who are relocating and know that knowing the language of our target country will make working in that country remarkably more interesting and exciting. Imagine the pressure of relocating to a new country for work and having to not only learn the ropes for work but also having to battle the barriers of not understanding everyone. Sure, many work places and companies will speak English but it’s all those little nuisances or those little fun comments in the foreign tongue that help us to feel a part of the group and to assimilate into our new work environment and build great communication and relationships with our colleagues and new communities. How much easier would it be if we were already one step ahead by speaking the language before we arrived? Then there are those of us who become bi-lingual so we have that edge in the work place. It can be a competitive world when it comes to applying for those coveted work positions and in this day and age we are more multi-cultural than ever before. Having useful skills that can enhance the work environment and the reputation and customer service of any business is definitely desirable for some employers.
These blogs are about learning a foreign language and utilising that skill to forward your professional path.