Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

How language learning can make your business money 

by Daniele Saccardi, Campaign Manager at Preply

We all know the old adage ‘time is money’. In the midst of a cost of living crisis, it is becoming more and more important for businesses and individuals to spend their time wisely and productively. So why should organisations invest their time and money in providing language learning opportunities for their employees? 

Language is a vital part of communication, often being the leading way in which we convey messages to others. Sharing a common language allows people to connect on a deeper level and can therefore lead to stronger partnerships with foreign clients, employees and colleagues. Ever heard the phrase ‘lost in translation’? Communicating with clients in their native language creates the opportunity to form a deeper understanding of the client and their business. It can also help to prevent conflict caused by a lack of cultural awareness and misunderstandings. Complete understanding is especially important when it comes to humour – a joke in one language may not translate into another and can lead to some pretty awkward silences when it falls flat. Spending less time navigating communication issues means more time can be spent conducting business and building relationships. 

As a business, having team members with foreign language skills is a huge benefit when looking to expand into the global market. A better understanding of a country’s culture provides the groundwork necessary to build better strategies to grow the business abroad. It also opens up additional opportunities, for example foreign investment. Many well-known CEOs, such as Mark Zuckerberg and James Quincey, speak multiple languages and have used these to benefit their businesses. Preply has seen the advantages of language skills when expanding into global markets through our work with international ad tech and digital media companies. Willy Brandt, the former Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany once said: “If I’m selling to you, I speak your language. But if I’m buying, dann müssen Sie Deutsch sprechen [then you have to speak German].” 

When it comes to business, market research forms a crucial part of understanding potential customer bases and tailoring products/services to their needs. Possessing foreign language skills means that research can be done in the native language of the customer base, allowing a deeper understanding of their wants and needs. Language skills also go a long way with clients, making business working faster and more effectively. Clients will be impressed with business partners who take the initiative to speak with them in their native language. 

Gabrielle Hogan-Brun, author of Linguanomics, the most comprehensive book ever published on the relationships between multilingualism and economics, said: “A recent Economist Intelligence Unit report on how cultural and language barriers affect business confirms that effective cross-border communication and collaboration are critical for the financial success of companies with international aspirations. Executives interviewed from across the world stated that better communication with customers and colleagues abroad benefits their company’s profit, revenue and market share. In fact, around half of the respondents admit that misunderstandings have stood in the way of major cross-border transactions.” 

Language learning inherently involves communication with others, as a core part of the learning process. This social aspect of language learning can function as an advantage to businesses, as better colleague relationships result in better work being produced. In a study conducted by Rosetta Stone, it was revealed that “80% of employees who participated in language training felt more positively toward their employer, and 66% felt more engaged with their work”. 

In short, implementing language learning can enable enterprises to support international growth, open new markets, share knowledge rapidly and effectively, appeal to global talent pools and increase employee loyalty. 

Preply’s corporate language training programs are designed to help employees reach their full speaking and writing potential, as well as provide insights and analytics to employers to track the success of the program. 

At Preply, we are incredibly proud of our corporate language training programs and how these have supported businesses’ growth into global markets. We are looking forward to working with more organisations through Preply Business and supporting them to build on the skills necessary to communicate effectively in global business.