English is considered to be the preferred language of business. In many workplaces, it’s the only way that a growing diverse population of employees can communicate ideas and collaborate on projects. However, while it’s been determined by census that some 375 million people consider English to be their native tongue, it’s actually third in line behind Spanish and Mandarin Chinese.
The untapped global consumer market is estimated to be worth around $30 trillion by 2025, up from $12 trillion from 2010, based on McKinsey & Company research. It makes sense, then, that companies may want to gain an edge in foreign markets by providing language learning opportunities for employees.
Why language training is better than other options
In an attempt to address language barriers in other countries, organizations have turned to a variety of costly methods, including:
- Hiring translators to be present during all interactions and document reviews
- Bringing on employees who speak other languages to act as liaisons
- Only doing business with companies that have English-speaking employees
These options aren't particularly sustainable, especially when it comes to expansions into regions the company doesn't yet have a foothold.
On-demand modern language learning is here
A recent announcement from Rosetta Stone, a company long known for its innovative language learning programs, indicates that it’s gearing its latest product towards the language training needs of the international workplace.
Rosetta Stone Catalyst delivers a learning experience that identifies and targets language learning paths for 24 language types, with fully-digital audio and visual content that not only covers spoken language exercises, but also real-world cultural training like making business presentations and traveling in foreign countries. Learners can practice their newfound skills with live online language tutors. This is far more advanced than yesteryear’s boxed language training.
Making the case for language learning
There are a number of reasons why adults should invest in learning new languages, especially if their employer offers this opportunity. A University College of London study conducted by Cathy Price, a neuroimaging researcher, indicated that people who are bilingual have more gray matter in a portion of their brain that’s associated with vocabulary. As this part of the brain is used, cognitive function is enhanced, a factor that can help adults learn other skills and become more proficient on the job.
Language training also enables people to connect on a higher level that benefits their appreciation of diversity and collaboration in the business world. There are many studies that indicate diversity is highly beneficial for organizations. When companies have more socially-diverse groups of employees, customers, and vendors, they are more innovative than other organizations.
One study from a team of researchers at Kellogg School of Management showed that just the mere presence of multiple cultures within a company can give it an advantage. This includes people coming from other nations and speaking other languages who bring new ways of thinking to the organization that help with making more strategic decisions.
When employees immerse themselves in the full cultural perspective of a new language, it enhances the experience and facilitates the learning of the new language. These lasting skills can enable any business to move forward in confidence in any global interaction.