Language Training

Communication with individuals who have a different language and a different cultural

orientation is much more difficult. Most executives agree that it is the biggest problem for the

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foreign business traveler. Even with an interpreter, much is missed.

While foreign language fluency is important in all aspects of international business, only

a small percentage of Americans are skilled in a language other than English. Students who plan

careers in international business should start instruction in one or more foreign languages as early

as possible. Programs designed to train participants for international business, such as those

offered at the American Graduate School of International Management in Glendale, Arizona, and

the Global Management Program at the University of South Carolina, provide intensive training

in foreign languages.

Fortunately for most Americans, English is almost universally accepted as the primary

language for international business. Particularly in cases where there are many people from

different countries working together, English is usually the designated language for meetings and

formal discourse. Although English is a required subject in many foreign schools, students may

not learn to use it effectively. Many companies provide instruction in English for those who are

required to use English in their jobs. Where trainers use English to communicate information and

instructions about the job, they must recognize the discomfort that foreign trainees may

experience. Learning job skills in a second language is usually much more difficult than learning

them in one’s native tongue. In addition, certain concepts may not even exist in the foreign

trainees’ culture. The word “achievement,” for example, doesn’t exist in some Asian and African

languages. There is no direct translation for “management” in French.

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