The world has expanded and globalised rapidly in the last few decades, to the point that the integration of certain social aspects has started to be the norm. What this means is that things such as culture and languages are exchanged continuously within the international community.
Languages particularly play a vital role in the exchange of information. In fact, multilingualism has never been as present in the international business community as it is now.
Here, we discuss some of the benefits multilingualism brings to business while highlighting some of its cognitive effects.
The English Myth of the Business World
While English is considered by many to be the official language of business globally, this doesn’t mean that it is the sole competitor.
Many people believe that knowing English as their first language is a huge bonus, but in the business world, it can be damaging to think that way. All languages carry some useful clout in terms of business relations. This is in part due to the special economic value each country possesses.
Take into account the following situations, for example:
China’s economy has increased seven-fold between 2000 and 2015. The nation is considered an economic powerhouse and is home to over 1.05 billion Mandarin Chinese speakers.
Arabic is the world’s fifth most spoken language with around 300 million native speakers. This language can be used as a portal to conduct business in the Middle East, the Gulf nations, and in Northern Africa.
Japan is the world’s third largest economy with its main economic gains being main in technology and robotics. For anyone wanting a clear path into tech and electronics, learning Japanese is one of the best ways to get a foot in the door.
The Benefits of Multilingualism in the Workplace
There’s been a lot of attention given to multilingualism and the benefits to businesses and workplaces recently. Here are just a few examples of how building a team with multiple languages can give your company the edge.
Engage an International Community
Languages are a vital part of working on a global scale. Language skills facilitate not only ... your competitors but allow for the exchange of products, infrastructure, and assets. If you’re unable to observe or conduct meaningful business relations because of a language barrier, chances are that you could be missing out on a great deal of knowledge; knowledge capable of benefiting your business.
For example, from 2004 to 2011 the UK value of Chinese exports quadrupled to 12.5 billion Euro. The takeaway here is that Mandarin Chinese is a highly valuable skill to have when conducting business in the UK.
Satisfy Your Clients
It’s common knowledge that all of a given business’ clients won’t speak the language of that business. But by having a trained multilingual staff on hand, clients can be satisfied easier.
This perk eliminates the presence of language barriers while opening the pathway to long-lasting and mutually satisfying business contracts.
Sales Can Increase Exponentially
The Common Sense Advisory board conducted research on the localisation of sales in global business. They surveyed a total of 10 countries, with each represented by 300 people. The countries being Brazil, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Russia, Spain, and Turkey (they were selected by economic value). To summarize the report, the following results were discovered:
Statistics show that 82 per cent of people are likelier to buy promotional material if the content is in their language.
Furthermore, 75 per cent of online shoppers are more inclined to buy from websites that have content and products displayed in their language.
While 74 per cent is more likely to re-purchase the same brand if they are provided with after-sales care in their native language.
Facts about Multilingualism
- It is estimated that between 60 and 75 per cent of the world can speak at least two languages. Bilingualism (speaking two languages) is the norm while monolingualism (speaking one language only) is the oddity.
- Some people in the world can speak dozens of languages, they are known as hyperpolyglots.
- In the early 20th century there was a commonly held belief that bilingual children would be intellectually hindered by their language skills due to the increased linguistic activity. However, In 1962 the Peal and Lambert study proved that bilingual individuals actually have an improved sense of “mental flexibility”.
- If you’re looking to increase your salary, you’ll be glad to know that knowing a second language was estimated to be valued at $128,000 over 40 years.
The Cognitive Benefits a Multilingual Team Holds
Does it matter if your team members don’t speak more than one language? It might. Here’s why:
More Grey Matter
Multilingual individuals have more grey matter in their brains than those who are monolingual.
Grey matter plays a role in muscle control, emotions, sensory perception, memory, and speech.
Having employees with these qualities enhanced may prove to be particularly useful in the business environment.
Better Problem Solving Skills
Multilingual individuals can think in multiple languages. Having the ability to think in more than one language means also having the ability to process solutions in more than one way. This cognitive benefit can lead to improved problem-solving skills and enhanced rational thought processes.
Powerful People Skills
Working as a part of a team in a large business corporation is something a lot of people do in today’s society. Having experience in a second language can grant you better people skills through the exposure of different cultures and societal mores.
Plus there’s evidence pointing to the fact that people who speak multiple languages are better at commanding executive control of situations through flexible reasoning skills.
Languages are a critical part of human history, and they are necessarily an integral part of daily life; business is no exception.
If you’re questioning whether to pick up a second language to give you an edge in the industry you’re working in, then you’re on the right track. If you’re an employer, consider diversifying your team’s language base.
Multilingualism can boost cognitive functions, foster enhanced mental ability, and encourage a healthy flow of information in the international community.
Good business requires good communication – but at the end of it all, foreign language skills will determine the limits of your world.