Many businesses, either large or small have a desire to grow internationally. To be able to trade in more than one country not only can generate an improved income stream, but also creates considerable credibility. On paper, opening up offices in different countries may look like a piece of cake but in reality, there is a lot more to contemplate, and in many cases a priority to consider is that of language.
English Folly. You may say “So what, all business is done in English” and while this is true to a degree it is also not the truth. Sure, one of the primary languages of business communication is English, but when it comes to the day to day, and gaining a strong foothold in whatever country a business is venturing into, knowing the mother tongue matters. Going into Spain, France, Japan or any country that does not natively speak English and expecting things to be done in English would be pure arrogance and therefore speaking the native language is vital.
Language gets you started. When a business is expanding into another country it is taking its products and services to a place where its own native language is not the same as the country that is the new customer base. Communication and marketing when entering a new country both need to happen in the now foreign language and being able to discuss your requirements with local agents requires you to be understood. Even prior to establishing a base on foreign soil, discussions and negotiations need to occur and these are best done in the language of the country being entered. Speaking the language shows that the business is taking its expansion into different countries seriously. Furthermore, in the often delicate, initial discussions and negotiations, speaking the same language, preferably the native language, room for error or misunderstanding is removed. Speaking a language ensures a swift and more effective expansion into a new country.
Language gets you down to business. When expanding into a new country a business will employ locals that are often managed non-native language speakers and the process of opening up operations is overseen by staff from the home office who may not necessarily speak the language of the country they are in as their first language. It is important to understand that language plays a critical role here and speaking the language is of paramount importance. Not only does speaking the language help in the day to day office or factory operations it goes a great deal further to ensure a strong foundation is created where misunderstanding, for example, becomes less of a problem with face to face discussions.
Language beyond to office door. The biggest thing about language that helps a company expand into foreign territory is outside of the business. Few companies expanding into a new country take full cognisance of culture, tradition and social behaviour, of the place they are setting up shop and these easily overlooked elements of working and living in a new country are very much the fabric that drives success when expanding internationally. Speaking a language ensures a company and the employees tasked with establishing operations blend in. Blending in is powerful when it comes to morale in place of work and high morale means the chances of success and high productivity are exceptionally better than they could otherwise be. Language matters!
Expanding a business internationally all begins with the spoken word and being able to speak the language of the country where a business is venturing into is by far and away the most critical part of the entire plan.
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:
Also, if you have had to work from home due to the COVID-19 there are also additional tax benefits you can claim due to having to use your personal resources. If you work from home, you will be able to claim a deduction for the additional running expenses you incur. These include:
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:
‘ 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.
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 (tutor). 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.
Australian businesses are experiencing a once in our lifetime situation. VLLC included. We are fortunate though as we are able to run all our language courses completely online so our students have had only minimal disruptions. I have recently read a really informative article from the small business site in WA which has put together a checklist.
I have added some of the key points below and included the link to the complete article at the end.
1. Understand your financial position.
2. Check your eligibility for government assistance
3. Contact your bank and insurer.
4. Communicate with your stakeholders.
5. Seek advice on deferring tax payments.
6. See if your business can still operate.
7. Understand your options in relation to employees.
8. Check your licencing requirements.
9. Commercial leasing - talk to your landlord
10. Consider whether you can draw on your superannuation.
11. Build your networks.
12. Keep informed of changes.
Language is how we communicate and has been important from the most basic of communication since man first started to grunt and make sounds to get a message across. On modern day earth there are some 6,500 spoken languages that allow some 8 billion people to communicate. Language is clearly Important.
You are reading this article in English, it has become the language of business, but it is not the most spoken language in the world. Mandarin is the most spoken mother tongue language in the world with some 1,213,000,000 people speaking it, English in comparison has only 360,000,000 speakers which gives rise to why learning a language is a great investment.
There is something powerful and magical about learning a language and investing in learning a language which opens doors both in life and business that no other tool can. In a world where technology is bringing cultures closer, language is still the most important tool. Sure, anyone can type a message and have Google Translate it, but have you ever tried translating the translation back into your original language? Tone and emotion are lost and very often the meaning is not what you really wanted to say.
Investing in learning a language allows you to use your human mind to converse with emotion and meaning. The value of this alone is worth more than many imagine, and from it comes a level of respect that few people will ever understand. The emotional power of being able to speak another language is worth more than any investment you could make elsewhere.
The real value of investing in learning a language today must surely be business. Finding a way to give you the edge rather than your competition is the goal of every business today. Language creates more than just one step better and affords improved long term and sustainable relationships just because communication is improved. For this reason, people looking for a better paid job with more prospects become valuable resources to any company if they have invested in learning a language.
There is very much a win-win result in business today when someone can speak an extra language. Companies investing in their employees to learn another language is on the increase because they understand the value and importance of vocal communication and cultural understanding and tolerance.
Investing in learning a language has another benefit over and above being good for business and job prospects. Speaking a second or even third language allows a person to get under the skin of another country, its culture and people. Having invested in learning a language, any business trip gains a new dimension and vacations become that bit more off the beaten track. As was stated at the beginning, language is the key to opening many doors and in reality, adds extra zest and enjoyment to life in way that nothing else can.
If your only reason for investing in learning a language is just because, then do it and you will see a whole new world open up around you.
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.
These blogs are about learning a foreign language and utilising that skill to forward your professional path.