Saturday, March 15, 2008

Why it is important to speak many languages

That is something that is very important to me, and also my girlfriend Susie, who as a language major graduate speaks 4 languages (English, Spanish, French and italian). A lot of people are speaking English as the international business language. That is a good thing, this is indeed the main language used for International business. But there are many advantages to speak other languages.
But speaking another language is in my opinion a great asset people should not underestimate. And here is why.

Of course, this is well seen by foreign people if you try to speak in their own languages, as it is a sign of respect and of adaptation (how many times I have seen American People expecting people to converse with them in English on vacations?). For a salesperson who is visiting clients in another country he will probably able to create stronger relationship if he knows the language.
But more importantly, speaking other languages allow you to understand better a culture and access other valuable source of information.

American news are very useful, don't get me wrong, but my ability to read French news site lefigaro, or the Spanish Elpais, or even sometimes (even though I don't read it on a frequent basis) Die Welt in German, it gives you the ability to know about different aspect of an issue.

Mastering different languages is not all, what is important is your ability to leverage it to know more, to access to information that your competitors won't know. That is why every day I read blogs and news website in English, French and Spanish, to see what matters to the three communities, but also to forge my opinion about the issue. For example, as I am French, I might have a better understanding on what happened with the Societe General than an American, who will have less information and probably presented in a different manner.

A lot of ideas and things are happening in the world, and being able to speak different language and have access to information sources from all over the world is a great advantage to pick up new ideas.

What do you think about it? Do you have examples how knowing different languages helped you out?

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