Business: multiculturalism and language skills matter

Business insights
Posted by Athena Parthenos

You're a small company and you intend to expand your business abroad? Have you ever thought of investing in a language course to improve your employees' language skills?

Every year, many European companies appear to lose business because of their lack of language skills and intercultural competence, not only when they want to reach new foreign markets but also when they have to communicate with overseas clients, buyers, or suppliers. As a matter of fact, many companies incorrectly believe that investing money in a foreign language is not important, but language skills can confer a competitive edge in today's market. If you want to open a branch in a foreign country, for instance, you must know the local language and be aware of the habits and ways of making business in that country.

In fact, language learning comes with intercultural skills that include the study of the culture and the knowledge of the bureaucratic process in order to open a branch in that country.

A linguistic consultant is exactly the person you need, as he/she is an expert on the language and culture of the country you want to expand your activity to and can show you the best way to approach your future new customers and help you out with the bureaucracy of that country.

Even when you open a new branch in a new country, you have to be aware of multicultural communication, considering that every culture has its own way of making business; that is, there's a business etiquette as well as a netiquette—things you are expected to do as well as others that are better to avoid. A language consultant knows the industry and market of the country and the correct way of communicating and making advertisements. A language mistake in this field can cost you a lot of money. This means that you need a professional—some big companies have improvised the translation of their name brand when trying to reach a new market with catastrophic results. For instance, Colgate launched a toothpaste in France named "Cue." Unfortunately, that is also the name of a French pornographic magazine.

Besides that, another side you can start to work on to internationalize your business is providing your employees with a language course. Of course, the language depends on the country you want to reach. You can organize either in-house or online language courses that include small cultural excursions. Although they might not be very fluent in speaking that language, it conveys an image of your company as an international business that values interculturalism. When speaking with foreign clients, for example at trade shows, the effort  to speak the language is more appreciated than the accuracy.

In other words, language skills are crucial for growth. In an interview with The Guardian, Sylvia Laws, founder and managing director of specialist global PR agency Technical Publicity, stated that the growth of her business can be related to the multilingual skills of the team.

In this case as well, you can ask your linguistic consultant for some suggestions on which language courses suit your company best.

As a linguistic consultant and translation agency, we at Athena Parthenos have opened a Multicultural Management and Communication Department that can help you go through all the steps of the multicultural process, from language learning to translation and bureaucracy. Click here for further info. We also organize language courses for business directly in your company, at our language school, or online: find more details here.

If you liked this post, check out

Translating, or About an Art Lying Between Art and Creativity

Promoting "Made in Italy": Don't Forget Marketing Translations

When Our Cellars Will Have to Learn to Speak… Chinese

Written by Marcella Sartore, Marketing & Communication Assistant @ Athena Parthenos

Tell us about your PROJECT!