How many of us envy those people who grew up or are growing up in bi or multilingual homes? Having the ability to switch and swap languages like changing channels on a TV makes some people green with envy or just smile at the sheer brilliance of it. Speaking a second, third, fourth or any number of other languages is to some people like some kind of magic and they wish they could do the same. For any number of reasons, people get the idea into their head that they will never speak another language, or believe that if they do, they will never use it. How wrong these people are.
Learning another language is more challenging for older people, it is a fact. Young developing brains soak up information and languages like a sponge and those who may seem like gifted children are merely using their brain as nature designed it. However, as an adult the brain still absorbs and retains information, and a language can be picked up with some ease albeit a little slower than a child. Don’t let age stop you from learning another language.
If you can learn a language, don’t then convince yourself that you will never use it. A second language is a wonderful thing to have. Speaking another language makes you more marketable as an asset in the career world and opens up new avenues of travel and adventure in your personal world. Knowing this should incentivise you to begin learning another language.
Language is still one of the most valuable assets a person can have. Pitching one accountant or salesman next to another, each with the same ability but with one being able to speak Italian for example, makes a difference. Job opportunities for people that speak another language increase and value to a prospective employee increases. Salaries are higher for roles where language or time in a foreign country is required and the extra income should be a wakeup call, especially in these tough times we face today.
The business use of a language is undeniably an asset, and companies that have native language speakers gain respect faster and business deals are signed that bit easier. The simple fact that someone speaks the language lifts the levels of respect considerably and no matter what anyone says, respect is still and always will be why business is done between people.
However, it is not just business where language is an asset. Travel and vacations with a language become more exciting and more of an adventure. A language will take you off the beaten track and away from the flocks of sheep-like tourists. The real country can be visited, speaking French can take you to where the French enjoy their vacations and the same is true with any language in any country.
A language will allow you to not just communicate and get directions but to blend in when away on your travels. Strangers, made stranger by not speaking English, can become lifelong friends and life becomes a great deal richer and fuller just by having control of a language.
Learning a language is all part of the fun, and once learnt, using it is more exciting than many people will dare to imagine. Once you have mastered a language, those people you once envied or admired, will not be seen the same again, you will be part of a special and wonderful group of people who can converse beyond your mother tongue. Contact VLLC if you would like to increase your employability by learning a new language.
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 (in-house or online) 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.
As business in Asia and Europe become more competitive, the ability to speak your customers' language can give you a trading advantage and open up new career and exporting opportunities. That is the growing impression among Australian corporate executives.
While many companies admit they "get by" speaking only English and using language apps when dealing with their overseas counterparts, those with a more sophisticated global outlook have proved that bilingualism pays off in better communications, better customer relations and better deals.
Quite apart from the bottom line benefits of better communications, the courtesy of learning and speaking your customers' own language, is winning new options for Australian industry. Many Australian companies are initiating staff language training to provide better customer service.
Unfortunately you can't use body language over the telephone. Bigger, rounder, happier, later - 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; let the rest of the world learn English as a common language, we're OK!
VLLC has been providing language tuition to corporate clients for 30 years. Through VLLC's individualised process they determine the language requirement of the company, including relevant terminology, and adapt their courses to meet the company's needs. VLLC students are taught to think in the language they are learning, rather than focusing on grammar as that always involves translation and English. A whole new world can be opened up! Contact VLLC.
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 up skill 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.
Since the end of World War II when two atomic bombs changed Japan forever, the nation has fought to become the nation it is today. Japan is a nation that had two choices after the bombs were dropped, to die or prosper. Prosperity was chosen and ever since then the nation has been a leading innovator in engineering and technology making Japan a top country to do business with.
Innovation persists in Japan; miniaturizing and automating processes have been the hallmark of Japanese industry and for outsiders to get in on the leading edge today one needs to have an advantage. One advantage that few consider, primarily because many Japanese people speak English is language. Language in any culture opens up doors, breaks down barriers and deepens respect and in Japan, respect especially is something of great importance.
Mastering the bow is a start when doing business in Japan, as is handing and grasping a business card with two hands. To the Japanese a Business card is an extension of the person referred to as Meishi. However, getting beyond this and further than Konnichiwa or Sayonara is the biggest challenge for many aspiring business people looking to do business in Japan. Relying on a translator is uncomfortable and awkward, emotion is lost and to be honest one doesn’t really know if the translation is truthful or exact. Translators also cost money and when some face time is required with your potential Japanese customer or partner, the translator is like a third wheel on a date.
Speaking Japanese automatically removes the third wheel and business relationships can grow deeper and stronger quickly. Even when making a few errors in Japanese your errors will very likely be forgiven because you are attempting what few actually do. Speaking Japanese shows respect and lifts levels of trust very quickly and when getting to the front of the queue to do business with a new product or partner with a progressive company you are leapfrogged to the front. Language in any country gives anyone an advantage, being able to converse and even make small talk or chuckle at a joke breaks down barriers fast. Not that Japanese business meetings are big on small talk but having a conversation with the receptionist or striking up a conversation with a general employee can prove useful.
Speaking Japanese gives you and your business a unique advantage when doing business in Japan. Not only does command of the language help in business meetings is also makes socialising with your customer, partner or supplier easier and just like every country in the world most business in Japan is not done in the board room. Speaking Japanese makes a round of golf much easier and conversation on any golf course is well known to be the conversation that closes the deal.
So what’s the magic formula to making sure you ace your interview and conveying that you are, in fact, the best person for the job? While there is no one clear answer, we’re betting you that learning a second language will get you there faster. Let’s take a look back at those three important traits that we discussed earlier and how being bilingual (or multilingual!) can help with each and every one of them. Here’s how:
1. The ability to work collaboratively on a team — Learning a new language will increase your level of empathy with others. You’ll learn important differences between various communication and learning styles—the key to working effectively with others or managing any team.
2. The ability to communicate clearly and effectively — Of course, communication is key when learning a new language. You’ll learn important differences between languages and cultural nuances that may only exist in another language but not English. Being bilingual will teach you how to think more creatively about multiple ways to get your main idea across to different audiences.
3. The ability to obtain, process, information and to create ideas — Learning a second language will actually enhance information processing in the brain. We’re serious. Studies show that brains in bilingual individuals have more grey matter than those in monolingual individuals. Grey matter is a major part of your Central Nervous System, which plays a key role in information processing. Additionally, we live in an increasingly globalised age, with an influx of language and cultures infiltrating all major cities. “Knowing multiple languages is important in the professional world for the purpose of international business, cultural understanding, and building good will with a diversity of partners and customers.”
Fluency in more languages, now more than ever, is considered extremely important by many employers. CNN Money has deemed fluency in a foreign language “the hottest job skill” 3. Also, according to them, 25,000 jobs are expected to open up for interpreters and translators between 2010 and 2020.
Getting fluent in another language of course, in addition to helping fast-track your career, fluency in another language comes with some pretty obvious perks. Just picture yourself working remotely, while sunbathing on the Costa del Sol in Spain, or ordering off the menu in Italian and your accent being on point.
And, you know, adding it to your resume and impressing your future employers at an interview doesn’t hurt either. Knowing more than one language will increase the likelihood of getting hired by sharpening the skills that all employers look for, while also opening up many professional opportunities, whether they’re in the states or abroad.
1. “The 10 Skills Employers Most Want In 2015 Graduates.” Forbes.
2. “41 of Google’s Toughest Interview Questions.” Inc.
3. “The Hottest Job Skill Is…” CNN Money.
China is booming, it has been for a number of years, and like a small dragon born from an egg, she has now grown, become something remarkable, feared by some and embraced by others. No matter how this dragon is seen, China is a place where business people see some kind of future, some success and continuity or expansion of existing business.
One thing that is for certain with China, is that it has become a place where gaining an advantage, getting in first, or having a shot at trading with a partner in a particular province in a particular field has become more of a challenge. Being the best at what you do and even having the most money is no assurance of doing business, China and Chinese Business have become wary of business and the dragon has become wise.
For the astute, or progressive businessman, there is a way to not so outwit the wizening dragon that China has become, but work with it and become better acquainted. This way is through speaking Chinese and thus being able communicate in their own tongue. It is not that the dragon doesn’t trust those who cannot speak its language, but has more to do with respect, trust and a willingness to work that bit harder for what will inevitably be gain.
A businessman or company who has staff that have taken the time to learn Chinese means that this company is taking China seriously and the dragon commands respect. This Chinese Dragon that we call industry has learnt to respect serious intent over money and even over being number one, that is very often the same one who will throw most money at a deal. The overseas company will be dealing with their Chinese counterparts and while in a growing number of cases these counterparts will speak English and a variety of other languages, speaking in their native tongue will nonetheless instil a level of trust that will go a long way in sweetening the deal or transaction.
Doing business in Chinese and even bilingually reduces the chance of things being lost in translation as this can prove costly. Having an understanding of, and a willingness to learn the language, will ultimately sustain the business transaction and while in the past, the quick buck for a quick win, was seen as good business the wiser and older dragon now understands the error of this.
But it goes further than the board room table and business in China. As is evident in the rest of the world, China does have a social and family element to it. Speaking Chinese opens up social, recreational and those more interpersonal elements of doing business in China. Speaking Chinese makes a person who was once merely a business associate who seemed to care only about his own profits a person of trust who can be introduced to families and be invited to social gatherings. Long term relationships can be formed that provide a solid foundation for doing better business going forward and this all starts with language and a willingness to learn.
China may have become a feared and even fearless dragon, but by speaking the same language as the dragon, means in many ways it can be tamed, and mutual success over an extended period of time can be assured.
China is the country with the highest population in the world and in the last decade or two it has become one of the leading players in the global economy. In this day and age the country that was hidden for so long behind a bamboo curtain, that to outsiders was home only to tea and rice, is a deciding player on world trade, world currency and even whether or not the world goes to war with North Korea.
The once assumed gentle country where paddy fields of rice grew, ploughed by oxen and the finest tea in all the world grew has now become a giant that has woken from its slumber. “For all the tea in China” people used to say but in 2016 it is not just tea that China produces, although China produces 35% of the world’s tea and the country itself consumes tea equal in weight to 26 Titanics (2010 figures) in weight, but the country is the heart of everything hi-tech and many things low tech.
In a country as vast as China and with such a large population labour costs are low and the level of skill and expertise is relatively high. Today pretty much anything hi-tech has some component or other that is made in China and quite likely to have been fully produced and assembled in China. From the mobile phone or tablet in your hand to the laptop or pc to the smart TV’s you are reading this post on 90% or more of the items will have some link to China. China has come a long way from producing tea yet has still managed to remain the top producer of the refreshing drink and become one of the leading drivers and producers of technology.
But it is not all roses, the people of china and the economy of China, the great yellow giant is starting to show signs of trouble. Demand for coal, iron ore, gold, platinum and other commodities has seen a decline in recent months. Manufacturing output is down. China has some trouble on the horizon and trouble for many spells opportunity. Those people who speak Mandarin, the most widely spoken form of Chinese, or Chinese generally now have the greatest opportunity to capitalise on the downward trend that can create these opportunities. Speaking a language creates much needed confidence. It can demonstrate that you take the other person seriously, shows respect and can put the other personal at ease if you can converse in their native language. All this can help to build good connections and ongoing relationships.
Yes, many Chinese speak English as does much of the world but speaking Chinese in challenging times gives the speaker of the language an advantage. Small nuances that may be lost in translation are regained, plans can be described in greater clarity and overall understanding is improved. Having a language is a business tool that leverages on human, even animal, nature where like prefers to communicate with like.
No matter how challenging the future may be for China right now the person who speaks the language is the one who can capitalise on the current situation and open up opportunity. The simple fact that a language is spoken may mean a deal maybe quickly struck and you and your new partner, customer or friend can relax and enjoy a good cup of Chinese tea.
Most people are under the impression that you have to move overseas to utilise your language skill. While opportunities definitely are available abroad, a foreign language skill can open doors to a variety of careers right where you are.
You gain much more skill from learning a language than just being able to communicate in another language. The practical skills that can benefit you from learning a language can include presentations, comparisons, researching and translating can lead you to a career in a range of areas.
Wherever your skill takes you can guarantee that your journey will be enriched by knowing how to speak a foreign language.
Possible career paths can include working with a charity or non government organisation such as Red Cross who work with refugees, Aid, asylum seekers or the homeless. This area of expertise can greatly benefit from having a bilingual member on their team.
Police or the Defence Force may benefit from bilingual employees as there are many areas of society which house citizens who have not yet mastered the English language and would require your assistance in a time of need. Being a bilingual officer also serves to help forge stronger community links with ethnic communities.
Travel and Tourism is an obvious employment sector and opportunities within the travel and tourism industry are numerous. You could find employment in the airline, transport, travel agency, hotel or tour company. You could write travel blogs, give tours, customer service or management roles.
In the journalism and media industries there are also opportunities for bilingual speakers. In the multi cultural arena which is Australia, communities with have media in their own languages which therefore requires people to write, film or produce communication and work in their language,
The business world also requires bilingual people to communicate in the ever increasing international arena. With the growth in technology it is becoming more common that Australian businesses have strong relationships with their overseas counterparts. Staff with excellent foreign language skills are crucial to these businesses.
These blogs are about learning a foreign language and utilising that skill to forward your professional path.