Language is something you use

Language is something you use




Foreign language bachelors; "deaf mutes"
Copyright of VietNamNet Bridge

University graduate in English discovers that she does not have the necessary language skills to apply for a job requiring English. Moreover, employers find it difficult to find people with the right language skills.

- A diploma takes a student four years to complete without ever meeting a foreign lecturer.
- An experienced interpreter costs about $70 per hour.
- A new language graduate earns between $200 -$300 per month.

Language Issues:
- In my opinion it is a mistake to think that language is like any other academic subject. We usually need a language to communicate with and not to know about. Knowing about language is the domain of linguistics, psychology and even philosophy of language, but this has nothing to do with knowing a foreign language as job qualification.
- Knowing about something does not mean that one knows how to use it.
- There is more to language skills in business than just grammar, whatever grammar means.

From my experience, most employers, i.e. human resources personnel and business managers, have no idea how to judge language skills in prospective employees. Usually because they, themselves, do not speak the language they are selecting for.
- A lot of time and money is wasted by companies on language training and language use by employees. Language is not a high priority in companies despite the lip service they pay to the subject. At the very least, management intentions are not always reflected in the application of company policies.
- Certificates and exams do not reflect the real communication skills of someone when using a foreign language.
- I have had students with MBA degrees who couldn’t even prepare a six slide presentation in English. And their MBA had a high English language content!

My advice to my executive language students is this: English (language) is not something you know about, but something you do. If you cannot use it, you don’t know anything.

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