English is the fastest-growing language in the world. It is spoken by 1.75 billion people worldwide. It has approximately 385 million native speakers, and 565 million people use it on the internet. Therefore, it is no wonder that international companies would want to adopt it as their official corporate language. This step has been taken by many companies such as Nokia, Samsung or Microsoft to simply facilitate worldwide transactions and geographically diverse functions. However, companies have to deal with barriers to language, overseas employees, and customers as they go “globally” from where they are based. Though Chinese is the most spoken language in the world, global organizations select English as the common language of communication. This is so because it serves as the mother language of more than sixty countries and the second language of others. It is widely taught and spoken in most countries, and it can give easy access to communication with foreigners. Furthermore, the wide usage of English is an expression of colonialism in the modern world.
The imposition of English as the language of the business world also seems plausible because it is the main language of the internet and technology. Companies publish their memorandums, reports, and official statements in English so that all employees, as well as international clients, can understand them. The usage of social media networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or YouTube is becoming increasingly important for corporations to conduct business, advertise their products or services, and attract consumers. Though these networks can be used in different languages, such as Hindi or Arabic, English remains the only language that is easily understood by all. This has ultimately made English the default language that people use to gain easy access to all spheres of life. Many different types of English tests, for example, IELTS tests and TOEFL tests, are conducted to evaluate English language skills.
It is beyond doubt that the usage of multiple languages in corporate sectors can prove to be of no benefit. It can simply be a hurdle in achieving goals. In order to make businesses successful, transactions take place between suppliers and customers. Transactions cannot occur successfully if there is a language barrier between the supplier and customer which can seriously hamper growth opportunities. In addition, if employees in a company are from different geographical areas, the only element binding them together is English. If there is no language barrier, then it can lead to good coordination and good decision-making.
However, there is also a counterargument which states that there is no need for English to be a primary language in business communications. According to many scholars and observers, English is an expansion of the colonial legacy and mindset. It is a reminder of imperialism, which has devastated many lives and divided many countries. The preference for English in corporate designs over the native language often comes as a shock to many people. Many people hold the view that they are still being ruled by an imperial power that is trying to impose its will upon others in order to control them. Likewise, when non-native speakers are forced to communicate in English, they feel their worth is being reduced. They often develop a complex that their value or competence in their company would be judged by their language skills and fluency rather than their work potential. Such people also fear that if they don’t comply with the language policies of their companies, they might lose their jobs by being replaced by someone who can communicate more efficiently in English.
In such circumstances, employees often resist the need to speak a language fluently that does not come native to them. They might return to their native language in meetings or conversations because they can talk comfortably in their mother tongue. In some cases, employees become so conscious of their language skills and the effect it can have on their careers that they refrain from speaking at all.
Despite the above-discussed scenarios, it is a vital fact that in business transactions and communications, English holds an important place. It can ensure coordination, cooperation, and profitable results for companies and their employees. In order to ensure such results, certain steps need to be taken by the corporate sector. Language training needs to be provided to the employees so they can gain fluency and build up their self-confidence. Such training sessions have been conducted in many countries, such as the Philippines and Japan, where about 7,000 employees are taught functional English skills. Furthermore, if an employee is facing any difficulty in English skills, it is the duty of his colleagues, managers, and executives to encourage him. Such people who hold influence in a company must also try to remove the cultural biases employees may have against this language, which they believe have been imposed on them by foreigners.
English is required for global collaboration, but this requirement often stresses out the employees, who fear that they may not be able to communicate ideas better in English. Often, people may have competent English skills in terms of writing but lack confidence in speaking the same language, as they begin to lose their confidence and stammer in business presentations. In such cases, employees must be encouraged to prepare well what they will present rather than spend unnecessary time designing their presentation notes or templates. Similarly, instead of imitating the accents of native English speakers, employees in corporate sectors must keep their native accents and only perfect their speaking skills. Many people feel that they might be ridiculed for speaking improper English or not speaking in accents that have been popularized by the Western media. Such negative sentiments only hinder one’s progress and erode one’s self-confidence.
In conclusion, English is the language that is most widely taught and learned all across the world. It is a symbol of globalization and its ability to bring different people from different parts of the world together is making the world into a global village. It is one of the primary elements which is essential in making this world into a borderless society, where people can easily interact with each other and take part in global events. It has brought a revolution in social media where it is used to bring people, companies, organizations, and governments closer to each other. Beyond schools and universities, it has become the language of the internet and technological enterprises. There is no doubt that it is slowly dominating all corporate enterprises and business communication fields. Thus, with its growing importance, English has become far more than a language. It has become a lifestyle, a means of progress, and a way to move forward in the corporate world.
Alshibly, Haitham Hmoud. Experiences of E-Commerce Use and Perceptions of Export Barriers among Jordanian Businesses. 2008.
Bhatia, Vijay Kumar. Analysing Genre: Language Use in Professional Settings. Routledge, 2014.
Crystal, David. English as a Global Language. Cambridge university press, 2012.
Daly, Peter, and Dennis Davy. “Language Boundary-Crossing by Business School Faculty Using English as a Medium of Instruction.” European Journal of International Management, vol. 12, no. 1–2, 2018, pp. 62–81.
Wang, Weihong. “Teaching English as an International Language in China: Investigating University Teachers’ and Students’ Attitudes towards China English.” System, vol. 53, 2015, pp. 60–72.