Language Matters: The Future of Global Companies

Why learn English?  You might have to, if you work at a big company.  Even if you’re in a country that speaks another language, your company might switch to operating in English — and only English.

English is accepted as the global language of business, and some companies are taking it a step further by requiring employees to communicate only in English, leaving their native language behind.

Sound unreasonable?  Not so.  Airbus, Daimer-Chrysler, Nokia, Samsung, and Microsoft Beijing have already taken the step.  The Japanese company Rakuten made the switch in 2010, even going so far as to remove all Japanese-language signage from buildings.

Why would a company decide to operate only in English?  It’s the only way to be competitive in the global market and to become a truly global company, according to a professor at Harvard Business School.

Making a company English-only isn’t easy.  Many workers can be frustrated by the new rules, so taking this step requires careful planning.

With more and more companies working in multiple countries, speaking the language of business might soon be more than an advantage — it may become a requirement.

How would you feel if your company or school switched to communicating in only English? Would you be angry or frustrated?  Do you think it would help you to be more comfortable with English?

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