We found this great site Gengo.com that has made conducting international business easier than ever. This interactive guide provides information for over a dozen countries on cultural norms for the workplace including how to approach a manager with a problem, how to socialize with your colleagues outside of work, and how to impress a client. Best of all, you can compare how your culture stacks up with the country you plan visit including the work/life balance, the dress code and more.
For example, if you are headed to Japan, karaoke is the best way to get to know your colleagues. Say yes to every karaoke invitation, and be prepared to use this casual atmosphere as a way to discuss things off the record. Need to impress your client? Pick a high-quality whiskey over a flower. Check out this smart guide to business cultures before your next trip. It is also valuable to learn the language before you go! Make the most of the self isolation and contact us for more information on a language course you can do from the comfort of your own home.
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 toward cultural acceptance.
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.
Being bilingual opens the door to a totally new future! Not only does it make travelling a cultural delight, but it opens the world to new friendships, new business avenues and many other benefits. “The world map looks smaller than ever before” Max Azria. We are becoming more interconnected with our international counterparts. Advancements in technology are seeing the world become smaller, and countries more dependent on each other. For those reasons, it has become vital in commerce, to improve communication with people from different countries and cultures.
I recently read an article on Linkedin by John White, MBA, who writes the following:
"Increased Size of Target Market
Want more customers? When you learn another language, the size of your target market automatically increases for which you can sell your product or service. There are an estimated 500 million Spanish speakers worldwide, making it the second most spoken language in the world. Of that 500 million, 50 million reside in the USA. So, whether your company is looking to grow internationally or expand into new domestic markets, knowing a second language increases who you can sell to.
More Marketable to Employers
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 hirable you become. Bilingual employees are in high demand in almost every business sector: health care, law, business, education, construction, criminal justice. (to name a few) Globalization is in full swing and worldwide markets are becoming more interdependent. Thus, the need for bilingual employees continues to rise.
Win Instant Rapport With Clients
Learning a foreign language is no easy task. For this reason, people instantly love you when they realize you have taken the time and effort to learn their native language as your second language. I have been the beneficiary of this many times in my career. On a cold call several years back, I one call closed a customer over the phone because of my Spanish speaking ability. I reached the company CFO, and the call was going nowhere fast. I detected a Spanish accent and out of no where switched the conversation to Spanish. It was the perfect 180 degree turnaround that I needed. By then end of the conversation, I convinced her to switch their company mobile voice and data services, and enter into a 2 year business agreement with my company! This sales cycle usually takes at least two meetings, a formal proposal, and weeks if not months of negotiation."
The above 3 paragraphs that John White wrote are so true. I have been working at VLLC for over 25 years and in that time have witnessed multiple success stories with regard to students increasing international trade and job opportunities through becoming bilingual. If you are looking to start a business in the international arena, second language acquisition is a massive advantage for achieving your business goals in your selected industry. It can assist you in communicating effectively with your customers, suppliers and any potential business relationships and could be vital to your success. By putting in the effort to engage with other cultures and crossing cultural boundaries through fluency in a foreign language you will be sure to gain the advantage in business dealings and negotiations; your business will have a better chance of success. Contact VLLC to open your business world to new opportunities.
Michele Colledge CEO, VLLC
新年好 / 新年好 (Xīnnián hǎo) New Year Goodness is the most popular Chinese New Year Greeting. Chinese New Year begins on the 16th February this year and 2020 is the Year of the Rat. People born in the Year of the Rat are born in the years 1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020, 2020 is considered an auspicious year.
People born in a year of the Rat supposedly are tough people considering the rat is not adorable, and it even makes its way into derogatory languages, it ranks first on the Chinese zodiac signs. It has characteristics of an animal with spirit, wit, alertness, delicacy, flexibility and vitality.
People born in the Year of the Rat are instinctive, acute and alert in nature which makes them to be brilliant businessmen. They can always react properly before the worst circumstances take place. They are also sophisticated and popular in social interaction. They are sanguine and very adaptable, being popular with others.
There are a few traditions that go hand in hand with Chinese New Year. One of these is the "red packet and envelope" New Years' gift. Red envelopes or packets are money wrapped in red paper and given to children from their parents, grandparents and others. Chinese people love the colour red and regard it as the symbol of energy, happiness and good luck. Actually, the significance of red packets in hoped to bring more happiness and blessing to the receivers. Hence it is impolite to open a red packet in front of the person who gives you. In China, the red packet is called yasui qian (压岁钱 /yaa-sway chyen/), which means 'suppressing ghosts money'. Those who receive a red packet are wished another year negotiated safely and peacefully.
Chinese believe that, as the Spring Festival is the start of a new year, what you do then will affect your luck in the coming year. There are however many things that you should NOT do.
Don't eat porridge because it brings poverty;
Don't wash your hair because it washes away good luck;
Don't do needle work as it depletes wealth;
Don't say any unlucky words such as "death" as it may bring death;
Don't wash any clothes as it washes away good luck;
Don't sweep as it sweeps away wealth
The Lantern Festival is the last day (traditionally) of China's most important festival, Spring Festival (春节 Chūnjié /chwn-jyeah/ a.k.a. the Chinese New Year festival). After the Lantern Festival, Chinese New Year Taboos are no longer in effect, and all New Year decorations are taken down. The Lantern Festival is also the first full moon night in the Chinese calendar, marking the return of spring and symbolizing the reunion of family. However, most people cannot celebrate it with their families, because there is no public holiday for this festival.
I have been working with Vocational Language Learning Centre (VLLC) for 28 years and have been CEO since 2013. VLLC was created because there was a need within Australia for a language learning program that, was not only fast and effective, but also directly related to the vocational needs of the individual and specific organisations. We believe that there is no point learning a language, if that language is not a usable skill.
We have been delivering tailored language courses to enterprises and individuals for many reasons over the years. We have assisted clients in securing new markets within their businesses, developing existing ones, and allowing other professional individuals to communicate throughout the world.
Since its inception, VLLC has successfully taught languages to a range of students from many walks of life and for many reasons and to be able to communicate in their chosen fields. Amongst these clientele are some of the larger Australian and overseas companies such as Mitsubishi, International College of Hotel Management, CSIRO and BHP, some government organisations such as Austrade, Australian Defence Force and the Australian Federal Police and some Volunteering organisations such as Red Cross and World Vision. Students from these companies have been able to enrich their careers by being able to communicate with various cultures and communities.
We have really enjoyed some very interesting motivations for students wishing to learn a language. We have had one gentleman who was a vet, who needed to learn Japanese as he was going to Japan to work in the horse racing industry. We have had students who are in the car racing industry, are missionaries, work in foreign aid, won contracts with Indonesia, manufacturing and import export with China, diplomats, wanting to marry a spouse from another cultural background and being able to understand their mother in law and many other reasons and career opportunities.
If you are interested in ensuring that your career can be spectacular then contact VLLC and start your own language adventure.
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!
Tucked away in Southern Europe, bordering Bulgaria, sits one of the most ancient countries in the world, renowned for its mythology and as one of the modern founders of philosophy and what we today would call “Western Civilisation”. Greece is one of the oldest countries with an observed and documented civilisation on Earth, and in recent years has seen some considerable turmoil in terms of its government and the economy.
Despite the recent challenges, and even the economic fear that once loomed over Greece like an executioners axe, the country is very much open for business. Business in Greece is not about ancient Gods and mythical creatures, nor is it about breaking plates, however, one does need to be aware that Greeks are tremendously proud of their history, heritage and mythology. Greece is, and always has been, a partner with whom trade has been important and that trade is improved by speaking the Greek language.
Having been in recession since 2008, Greece is fighting hard to get back to a point where it is considered a strong trading partner. Heavily dependent on the service industry that accounts for over 80% of the economy, one could easily be forgiven by assuming that olives and fish would be the larger part of what makes the country work, as olives and fish are perhaps what many think Greece produces.
The Greek language is something Grecians are proud of, it is a remarkable language with its own alphabet and if it were not for the winds of change, it could well have been the language most commonly spoken today. Having an understanding of the language allows a person to converse and understand the little things that matter about doing business in Greece. Greeks are very passionate about history and the very well-known mythology and through having a grasp of the language the ancient stories of heroes, heroines and monsters can take on a whole new life breaking the ice to get a deal done.
There are some taboos, and among them is Turkey or Cyprus, speaking the language will not only allow this subject to be carefully avoided but will enable you to ask questions if you so wish in a calm and intellectual manner on this touchy subject. Greeks don’t appreciate criticism and sarcasm should be avoided, broken plates are part of Greek culture and not meant to be used to mock. Greeks take themselves seriously but with control of the language, humour soon becomes easy to share.
Simple things matter when doing business in Greece. Greeks like to be informed and thus an agenda for a meeting should be sent before a meeting. Punctuality is advisable, as much as Greece may seem laid back, Greeks like to be on time and lateness does not look good. First meetings are often formal, and introductions likewise, with control of the language you will have immediate respect and first names soon become almost natural.
The one thing to be aware of, and something that through speaking Greek will make easier, is the fact that Greeks want to get to know who they are dealing with and will ask a lot of questions. Trust and respect is easily created by simply having a conversation and this can be more easily achieved through conversing in Greek.
Don’t let doing business in Greece be all about Hercules and breaking plates, take some time to learn the language and you will soon be doing great business in one of the oldest civilisations on earth. Learn Greek at VLLC to help you success in business with Greece.
A linguist and Columbia professor, Mr John McWhorter, recently conducted a talkback radio feature relating to learning new languages and the necessity for this. I heard about this both on the radio and in a CCTNews article which I have referenced below. McWhorter makes the case that English is rapidly consolidating its position as the universal language, and points out how this begs an important question: if you speak English already, why bother learning another language?
According to McWhorter, English is on its way to becoming the predominant global language by the end of this century, thanks to its prevalence on the internet, and its use in the world of finance, diplomacy and air traffic control, and even though Mandarin is currently spoken by more people, far more Chinese speakers are learning English than the other way around. If that were not enough reason to forget about studying a foreign language, he adds that instant translation of live speech is getting better every year.
These two points lead McWhorter to ask: Why should anyone learn foreign languages if everyone will either be able to speak English, or have access to technology that will automatically translate speech?
McWhorter gives the following reasons as to why you should learn a foreign language:
McWhorter concludes with a reflection on how it has never been easier to teach yourself a language. “You used to have to go to class, go to the laboratory, use records… and books that didn’t work”. In comparison, now we have “modern methods of learning languages would have sounded like science fiction to very sophisticated people”.
We agree with McWhorter, in that the options for language learning now are very vast and accessible. To truly grasp a language though there is a necessity to practice your communication skill so that when it is time to use it in real life, you have the skill and the confidence to do so. At Vocational Lanaguge Learning Centre (VLLC) we teach languages using multisensory techniques so that the language becomes a usable skill, just like your first language.
Start your learning experience in any of VLLC's 12 foreign languages online and you will open your eyes to a brand new future! The possibilities are endless! VLLC offers foreign language courses taught in one to one tutorials for each of the following languages. Click on one of the following languages below to find out more; Arabic, Chinese Mandarin, English, French, German, Greek, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Spanish or Thai. Learn your language at our Melbourne or Adelaide offices or via Skype using our exclusive online software.
Whether you want to learn a language for travel, business, love or to keep your brain active; VLLC have a comprehensive range of fully accredited courses to suit your needs.
VLLC aim to give students a voice and the self-assurance to speak through the practical application of the language. Key reasons to complete a course with VLLC include:
See how our language courses can help you and have a look at some of our Student's stories to see how learning a language can change your life.
If your job requires you to chat with clients from different nationalities, studying the language of that country will help to make your work easier. It will create a positive image in the minds of your clients, which they might communicate to your bosses, and may just provide you with the competitive edge in landing that new and elusive contract.
You will no longer require an interpreter to communicate your clients’ requirement to you. This will also save a lot of cost for the organisation for which you are working. The lack of foreign language knowledge puts the English speakers at a disadvantage. In meetings, for example, the people on the other side can discuss things amongst themselves in their own language without the English speakers understanding, and using interpreters slows everything down. In any socialising after the meetings, which may be integral to strengthening relationships, your clients will probably feel more comfortable using their own language rather than English.
Knowledge of foreign languages may also increase your chances of finding a new job, getting a promotion or a transfer overseas, or of going on foreign business trips. Upskilling yourself by learning a new language can give you the upper hand in job selection and you may find yourself working in a foreign country, living the dream….
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.
These blogs are about learning a foreign language and utilising that skill to forward your professional path.