How Language Learning Fuels Business Expansion

by / ⠀Company Culture Featured / March 14, 2024
How Language Learning Fuels Business Expansion

In a 2015 publication in the Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Professor James Foreman-Peck highlighted that the UK economy suffers an annual loss of approximately £48 billion due to deficiencies in language proficiency, language learning, and the presumption of universal English fluency. This pointed out that companies looking to expand should invest heavily in their teams’ linguistic abilities and intercultural competencies.

The nature of business—any form of it—is to expand as much as possible nationally and globally. Nowadays, this expansion has become more accessible than ever in our interconnected world. To simplify communication, the English language has emerged as the common language for international trade, technology, tourism, and any form of business since the 1980s.

Advantages of a linguistically-competent business

As the American writer Rita Mae Brown once said, “Language is the road map of a culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going.” With these words, the writer could pinpoint a language’s essence and importance.

While any language can be learned from anywhere in the world, what makes you truly connect with it is when you combine it with the understanding of the culture it belongs to. After all, if a concept does not exist in a culture, its language will not include the word that represents that concept. As a result, linguistic ability contributes to building a more inclusive, adaptable, and globally competitive organization.

More specifically, here are the key areas that can be improved and enhanced by language learning:

Market Research:

With high language proficiency, businesses can gather useful information about their target market directly from local sources.

Market Access:

Learning the language of a target market enables your business to better understand local customs, customers’ needs, and business practices, enabling it to establish itself more effectively in local markets.

Recruitment and Talent Acquisition:

A company that promotes multilingualism attracts diverse talent, which can drive innovation and creativity.

Adaptability and Agility:

Businesses with multilingual employees can respond more quickly to changes in global markets, react to emerging opportunities, and navigate challenges more smoothly.

Brand Image and Reputation:

Language proficiency indicates a commitment to global engagement and promotes a positive brand image.

Building Relationships:

Speaking the language of stakeholders builds rapport and trust. It demonstrates respect for their culture and language, which can lead to stronger relationships and smoother negotiations.

Expanding Networks:

Networking is key to business success. Communicating in different languages can help your company attend international industry events and conferences. These are crucial occasions where you can form partnerships and recognize opportunities.

How to help your team achieve English language proficiency

You might have heard of General English, but what about Business English?

First, Let’s clarify that General English is taught in standard language courses. It is structured to allow learners to become more confident in the four skills (reading, writing, listening, and speaking)while practicing vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar. All this covers areas of general interest, such as holidays, the environment, famous people, etc.

On the other hand, Business English has a very different focus. Although it is quite a generic course – it doesn’t specialize in any specific industry – it allows learners to become more familiar with terminology frequently used in business settings. There isn’t much emphasis on grammar, which is addressed as and when a specific grammar point arises, but it focuses on developing functional skills, such as writing emails, giving a talk or a presentation, replying to complaints etc.

How to choose the right Business English course 

When choosing a Business English course for your team, remember what they need to use the language for. A professional Business English teacher should assess your teams’ needs and establish your goals as an employer and their goals as learners and employees. With a personalized course specifically tailored to their needs, you’ll find that the participants will be more engaged and will progress faster.

Tailored specifically to participants’ needs, Business English courses keep learners engaged and motivated, leading to faster progress than General English courses.

A few aspects that you (the employer) and the teacher need to identify are:

  • learners’ needs, objectives, and proficiency levels through a needs analysis
  • why and how they will use their English skills (e.g., emails, presentations, meeting new clients, answering customers’ queries, etc)
  • logistical aspects, such as when and where these lessons should take place without impacting the day-to-day running of the business.

However, if you require a course that is more specific to your industry, the key to success is to find a teacher who will design every single lesson in a way that revolves around your industry and the main topics specific to your company.

Ideally, you want a teacher with considerable teaching experience—not necessarily teaching Business English, but that would be an advantage. Remember that the teacher does not need to be an expert in your field. They help your team (the experts) talk about what they know and do.

Unlike generic Business English classes, an industry-specific course would be more expensive, but it would be a lot more beneficial to your team. Remember that you often get what you pay for. Cheap TEFL certification and courses might seem good for the budget but could be a waste of money.

Level up your team with language proficiency

Business expansion requires linguistic ability. In the current market, this means sharpening your team’s English language skills (and those of your company’s target market) to ensure smooth communication among all parties. Language competence will then bring a number of benefits to your business in areas you might not have expected, such as rapport, reputation, and recruitment.


Featured image provided by Pixabay; Pexels; Thanks!

About The Author

Erica Stacey

Erica Stacey is an entrepreneur and business strategist. As a prolific writer, she leverages her expertise in leadership and innovation to empower young professionals. With a proven track record of successful ventures under her belt, Erica's insights provide invaluable guidance to aspiring business leaders seeking to make their mark in today's competitive landscape.