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.
“Any graduate who wants to get ahead and have a competitive advantage should be thinking about learning [a foreign language],” partner at Taylor Root David Buckley told Lawyers Weekly. “A graduate who comes out of university who has a second language may be a better prospect for an employer.” Mr Buckley said it was hard to find lawyers who have the requisite language skills for offices in Hong Kong or mainland China in particular. Finding candidates that can not only speak fluently but can read and write at a level necessary to conduct business is a challenge.
“Although there are more people every year who have Chinese language skills it is still very difficult to find people who can speak [Mandarin],” he said. According to the 2011 Census, only around 23.2 per cent of Australians speak any language other than English at home. Less than two per cent speak Mandarin. Only 12 per cent of Year 12 students across Australia study a language other than English, down from 40 per cent in the 1960s. Mr Buckley said lawyers with Asian language skills tend to have Asian heritage and that it is unusual to find an Anglo-Celtic lawyer with these abilities.
“Foreign language skills can certainly be helpful … especially if a firm's business and client base extend outside of the country in which they are located.“
Contact VLLC to help you achieve your goal of bilingualism. Choose from 12 languages and improve your career prospects.
CEO VLLC Aust
I was looking on the about money website and it had a great article about how to reflect on the end of a year and plan for the following year and decide how you want your business to develop.
Do you want increased success in the coming year or the chance to enjoy the success you have already achieved?
The top 10 resolutions are designed to help you strike a better work life balance, so that you can fully enjoy the New Year.
1) Learn how to delegate and do more of it. There are so many things to do when you're running a small business, it's easy to delude ourselves that we need to do all of them. Then we wonder why we're so tired and frazzled and have no time to do anything else!
2) Promote your business regularly and consistently. Too often the task of promoting a small business slips to the bottom of the to-do list in the press of urgent tasks. If you want to attract new customers, you have to make promotion a priority. Make a New Year's resolution to hire a marketing expert, or take the time to create a marketing plan on your own and follow through.
4) Learn something new. What you choose to learn may be directly related to your business or completely unrelated. Learning something new will add to your skills and add a new dimension of interest to your life - another important part of achieving a healthy work-life balance. Depending on how you choose to learn, you may meet new and interesting people, who may become customers, colleagues, or friends. How will you find the time to learn something new? By delegating, remember? Considering learning a language so that you can expand your business into new horizons?
5) Join a new business organisation or networking group. There's nothing like talking to other business people for sparking new ideas, refining old ones, and making contacts. Whether it's a group specifically designed for networking or an organization dedicated to a particular type of business, in person or over the 'Net, making the effort to be a part of a group will revitalize you and your business.
6) Give something back to your community. There are all kinds of worthy organizations that make a difference in your community. Make a New Year's resolution to find a cause that matters to you, and give what you can. Make this the year that you serve on a committee, be a mentor, volunteer, or make regular donations to the groups in your community that try to make the place you live a better place. And those that give get.
8) Set realistic goals. Goal setting is a valuable habit - if the goals lead to success rather than distress. Make a New Year's resolution that the goals you set will be goals that are achievable, rather than unrealistic pipe dreams that are so far out of reach they only lead to frustration.
9) Don't make do; get a new one. Is there a piece of equipment in your office that's interfering with your success or something that you lack that's making your working life harder? Whether it's an old fax machine that's a pain to use, or the need for a new employee to lighten your work load, make a New Year's resolution to stop putting off getting what you need. The irritation of making do just isn't worth it.
10) Drop what's not working for you and move on. All products aren't going to be super sellers, all sales methods aren't going to work for everyone, and all suppliers or contractors aren't going to be ideally suited to your business. If a technique or a product or a business relationship isn't working for you, stop using it. Don't invest a lot of energy into trying to make the unworkable workable. Move on. Something better will turn up.
Achieving a healthy work-life balance is like maintaining a good relationship; you have to keep working on it. But if you apply these New Year's resolutions throughout the year, your success is guaranteed!
Being bilingual not only makes traveling a lot easier but it exponentially increases who you can be friends with, it provides many benefits in the business world. Many people say – “I can get by with English” – “why do I need to bother about learning a second language”, this may be OK in an English speaking country with English speaking clients and colleagues, but what about when the world comes to your doorstep? There are 5.5 billion people who don’t speak any English at all!
So what are some of the advantages and how can you make the hours of learning a second language impact your pay packet….
Your CV. Being able to speak a foreign language and having experience with a different culture looks good on any application. It also assumes many other soft skills, that HR managers rate highly - such as empathy towards non English speakers, cultural flexibility, international outlook. In today's competitive job market being bilingual is a tremendous value-add to employers that separates you from the other pile of resumes. The more diverse your skill set is the more emplyable you become. According to the latest Education and Skills Survey from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), “72% of businesses say they value foreign language skills” and 52% say they are “recruiting new staff with language skills”. The Languages for Jobs report, published by the European Commission, also found that “40% of recruiters in the industry sector highlighted the importance of language skills for future higher education graduates”.
Job promotions. There aren't many situations where language skills are the reason that someone gets passed over for a promotion, or even just to keep your job. But in an increasingly competitive job market, why would you not give yourself every possible edge? Being able to communicate in other languages makes you much more valuable to an employer.
David Goodman-Smith, managing partner at China Study Abroad, a full-service agency based in Beijing, says his company's fastest-growing group of students are people looking to enhance their employment opportunities. "Having that competitive edge on your CV these days can be invaluable and Mandarin is without a doubt an eye-catcher. Companies are on the lookout for these kinds of experiences more and more," he explains.
Rapport building. Building your network. As we all know, most business is based on relationships – especially in Asia. The minute you start to speak your client’s language, you build rapport which can save time and money in the long term. Isn’t it easy to ring and directly talk to your clients, rather than go through a translator.
More money. While there are no definitive studies showing the increase in pay for those who are bilingual, there are many personal anecdotes, which show that being bilingual is an advantage when it comes to pay rates. Look at the following statements taken from: http://www.forbes.com/sites/cherylsnappconner/2014/04/17/how-learning-an-additional-language-could-influence-your-business/
The U.S. Committee on Economic Development (CED) suggests that American businesses lose more than $2 billion a year to language or cultural misunderstandings. To be successful, international businesses (which are pretty much all of us these days, as foreign trade has become a substantial component of our economy) need to adapt to the needs of foreign clients as well as to communicate with foreign partners effectively.
Consider these statements from the CED:
“For Richard Wagoner, the President and CEO of General Motors, learning Portuguese while on assignment in Brazil increased his eﬀectiveness in working with the Brazilian business community. Douglas Daft, the former chairman and CEO of the Coca-Cola Company, spent nearly three decades living in Asia while working for Coca-Cola. He believes the cultural knowledge he gained from his time in the region shaped his ability to lead the company, and considers understanding and valuing other cultures to be an essential skill for anyone working at Coca-Cola.”
Nearly 80% of business leaders surveyed believe their overall business would increase notably if they had more internationally competent employees on staﬀ, the CED concludes. Additionally, one in five U.S. manufacturing jobs was already tied to exports by 2006, the CED maintains.
Foreign consumers, the majority of whom primarily speak languages other than English, represent signiﬁcant business opportunities for American producers, as the United States is home to less than ﬁve percent of the world’s population. Additionally, trade is shifting to diﬀerent parts of the world, the CED notes. The United States’ annual trade with Asia is now approaching $800 billion (as of 2006—the sum is likely even much greater today), significantly out-pacing our trade with Europe. (Note to career seekers: for your job and salary prospects as well, being fluent in a second language is a definite plus.)
Have a look at the current Languages of the Future. https://www.britishcouncil.org/organisation/policy-insightresearch/languages-future-2017.
Discover 5 of the fastest-growing languages in the business world right now and contact us with a VLLC Course coordinator to discuss your personal vocational requirements.
Some of our students in the past have learnt a language with VLLC purely to have adequate language skills to be able to study in an overseas university. Here is a selection of information on some of the language requirements for studying abroad.
There are obviously different language requirements for different overseas universities and institutions but there is a basic framework, the Common European Framework (CEFR), which divides learners into six different levels:
A Basic Speaker
There are many first class education opportunities in Germany, especially in the fields of engineering and music. One of our previous students at VLLC wanted to study music in the heart of the classical music world, Germany and needed to learn German to make this possible. He was accepted into the Detmold Hochschule für Musik, where the audition process and interviews were conducted only in German.
In Germany there are certain language requirements that you must have prior to acceptance. They measure this level through a standardised test called the Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang (DSH). This test includes listening and reading comprehension, writing, an oral exam and comprehension and use of science and language related to study. The examination result is expressed in three levels, DSH 1, DSH 2 and DSH 3 which equals approximately the CEFR levels B2 C2. For most programmes, DSH 2 is required. It is very important to know that both the written and the oral part of the examination have to be passed with at least the level you would like to achieve. DSH 3 in the written and DSH 1 in the oral part results just in a total level of DSH 1 for example!
An alternative to the DHS is the TestDaF (Test Deutsch als Fremdsprache). This is more widely standardised and can be taken prior to arriving in Germany. It contains 4 parts which are speaking, academic writing and reading and listening comprehension. The spoken part is recorded and then assessed and related into levels, TDN3, TDN4 and TDN5 which are similar to the DSH levels. To let you know how that compares to universities' entrance levels, if you received at least a TDN4 in all the areas of speaking, academic writing and reading and listening comprehension, you would be qualified to study at all German universities.
To be able to study in each country there is a different test. In France there is the Diplôme dEtudes en langue française (DELF) and the Diplôme approfondi de langue française (DALF). In Spain there is the Diplomas de Español como Lengua Extranjera (DELE) which is an official qualification and recognised by the Ministry of Education in Spain and the Certificado de Español: Lengua y Uso (CELU) which is another internationally recognised proficiency test of Spanish.
If this is a direction you are interested in taking, to broaden your educational horizon and help you to live the dream of working in a foreign country, contact VLLC to start your language journey today.
Are you the future employee that is wanted to work overseas? Do you know what employers are looking for in potential international employees? The world has become a global village, Donald Trump may not like it but the facts speak for themselves and for a company to succeed globally it needs to have employees globally. As an employee looking to work overseas for an international company there are a few things a company is looking for.
Industry Knowledge and competence. To work overseas for an international company the employer will expect you to know the industry, company and your role very well. A level of experience, even for junior positions is essential. Knowing little about the company or not having enough experience or knowledge can be something that denies you an overseas role. Experience matters and always will. However, being a graduate you may well stand a good chance even without experience in a field related to your qualification if you have a special ingredient.
Confidence. As an employee of an international company working away from head office, you may well find yourself in a smaller office or even as part of only a small team and in some cases alone. International employers will look for confidence and someone who can adapt to change well. Showing initiative has always been something employers look for and internationally it is no different.
Country Knowledge. Knowing the company, its products and services as well as your role are vital. It is equally important to have knowledge about the country. Trading rules and mechanisms, culture, tradition and etiquette are essential. Having an understanding of geography, transport systems and social as well as business elements of the country are something a company is looking for in an employee. Working overseas an employee is expected to succeed and build a good reputation, having country knowledge will give you the edge. Again there is still a special ingredient missing.
All three of the above are things companies hiring overseas staff look for but there is one thing, one box that needs to be checked because of a special ingredient that makes a person to be perfect. That one thing is language.
Speaking the language. Being able to converse in the language of the country is the number one thing an employer looks for when selecting overseas staff to work in international offices. Demonstrating the capacity to do the work, having confidence, showing initiative and have knowledge of the country are all well and good but having language makes all the difference. It has been proven over many centuries that speaking the language of the locals secures business deals. Having a language and being able to converse about a company, its products and services in the native language creates trust. From trust, relationships are formed and from this business success is found. Learning a language can make all the difference, as an employee you become more valuable and with a language, you stand out and become less of a risk to send overseas or be employed overseas.
These blogs are about learning a foreign language and utilising that skill to forward your professional path.