Speaking Activities
Self-Study Quizzes
SpokenSkills Lab
Job Market
Home > Forum
Business English - Useful, yes. But mandatory?
Login / Join
Forum > Articles: Language education > Business English - Useful, yes. But mandatory? + Add Reply
Viewing 1-6 of 6
Author Message
Posted: Thu May 10, 2012 12:58 PM

Tue Aug 25, 2009
From the Economist
TSEDAL NEELEY, an assistant professor at Harvard, wants all employees of multinational companies to speak English, no matter where in the world they are or what they do.

Ms Neeley makes the case for an English-only policy for businesses that operate in more than one country in the May issue of Harvard Business Review. English is spoken by lots of people, including the citizens of such economic powerhouses as Australia and Nigeria, she writes. It has “a giant headstart” over Mandarin. And “unrestricted multilingualism is inefficient”. By way of example, she points to a French company which found that it couldn’t close a deal with visiting businessmen because none of the Parisians spoke English. Perish the thought that the guests should have sent someone with French skills to a meeting in France.

English is an undoubtedly valuable language. The Anglosphere accounts for more than a quarter of world GDP at purchasing-power parity. Many of the world’s most successful companies originate from English-speaking countries. Most scientific research is done in English. But Ms Neeley neglects these points. Her argument works on the assumption that English is obviously the best choice. Everyone who doesn’t speak it can learn, or suffer.

The crux of the problem is the the impact of forcing (rather than encouraging) English on morale and productivity. Ms Teeley admits that large multi-national companies, specially those not based in English-speaking countries, will have a tough time getting their employees to adhere to the new policy. They lose confidence, worry about their jobs and go to extreme lengths to avoid having to comply—by scheduling meetings at inconvenient times, for example. It can also “create unhealthy divides between native and non-native speakers”.

Ms Neeley's official bio says that her work places “special emphasis in the impact of language, power, status, and emotions on social dynamics.” It is a shame, then, that her recommended solutions to the problems above amount to fuzzy management-speak: “foster positive attitudes”, “use verbal persuasion”, “encourage good study habits”. Rakuten, a Japanese company with an English-only policy, identifies high-value employees and gives them extra training so they don’t go looking for another job. But it also threatens employees who don’t comply with demotion or dismissal. When the company implemented its policy, elevator directories and cafeteria menus were changed to English overnight. It all sounds rather unpleasant.

The idea of an enforced company language is likely to encounter the same pitfalls as mandatory national languages. It may work in small, homogeneous countries. But more often than not it is a source of conflict. Lithuanians of Polish ethnicity have long seethed at being unable to spell their names in the Polish way on government documents. India’s internal boundaries were redrawn after violent protests through the 1950s and ’60s demanded state lines based on language. South Africa went up in flames after the Apartheid government declared that half of all education must be done in Afrikaans. Even harmonious Norway is wracked by disagreements over what constitutes Norwegian. The list of language conflicts around the world is depressingly long.

The way to improve efficiency is not to mandate a linguistic—and intrinsically cultural—change upon workers and citizens. It is better, perhaps, to create the conditions that would lead to its adoption in any case. English has never needed an official academy to thrive. Nor has it needed official promotion (Britain and America have no official language) to grow. Like the weeds that seem always to reappear despite the best efforts of persnickety gardeners, English finds its way into other tongues and cultures. In Korea, in India, in Iran, young people learn English to improve their chances in the job market. English is, as Ms Neeley %*$erts, “now the global language of business”. That is the result not of diktats but of trade, freedom and “unrestricted multilingualism”.

Posted: Tue Dec 18, 2018 11:16 AM
Tue Dec 18, 2018
For all your concern and help just visit website for office help and key activation.
Posted: Mon Feb 18, 2019 02:50 AM

Mon Feb 18, 2019
Use your bow to hunt down animals in the best free hunting games for kids online! We got the most thrilling deer, bear, duck and hunting games pc online for PC!
Posted: Mon Feb 25, 2019 09:00 AM
Mon Feb 25, 2019
I totally agree with you. Though the English language had helped us in a lot of ways, it's never a reason to set it as a mandatory language.
Jon | www.wildthingzllc.com
Posted: Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:01 AM
Wed Mar 13, 2019
Je vous remercie de l'information! Je cherchais et ne pouvait pas trouver. Vous me aidé! publix passport customer service number
Posted: Thu Apr 18, 2019 09:44 PM
Thu Apr 18, 2019
Hello....I am a new user in this forum site...I think i agree with you, English language had helped us in a lot of ways, like a jobs and business .English as a mandatory language.
ISO 22000 Audit in Dubai | ISO 9001 Consultant in Kuwait
+ Add Reply
Speaking Activities
Self-Study Quizzes
Privacy Policy
About Us
Contact Us
SpokenSkills News
Vernon, British Columbia, Canada      Telephone: 250-307-0541
©SpokenSkills. All Rights Reserved.