In recent decades, English has been the dominant language of the business world. But these days, national boundaries have dissolved through various Free-Trade Agreements, the increasing flexibility of the labour market, and of course, technological innovations.
But with these advancements in the modern world, languages such as Mandarin, Hindi, Spanish, and many more, are becoming widely used and emphasised. With 1.2 billion native Chinese speakers, 400 million native Spanish speakers and nearly 300 million Hindi speakers, does this mean that the English language is losing its status as the language of business?
As labour markets are becoming increasingly fluid, our future career paths are not contained to our country’s borders. An accountant in Beijing can move to Morocco, and a Brazilian chef can work in a Vietnamese kitchen. Even though English does not have the most native speakers, what really shows its importance is the fact that it is the world’s most popular second language. So if that Chinese accountant or Brazilian chef were to move, having English as a second language would help them, as many people in Morocco and Vietnam would most likely have the same level of English proficiency as them.
The fact is that a corporate executive in a multinational corporation cannot afford NOT to have a certain level of English proficiency. In many cases, someone wouldn’t be able to reach that position in a company if they didn’t know the language.
Countries do not act as individual entities in today’s world, and companies cannot expect to be any different. The world has turned into a ‘global village’, especially with the rise of technology.
Technology has changed the way that the whole world communicates, relatives that live thousands of kilometres away, are now as close as a push of a button. But as it has changed communication, it has also changed commerce. A multinational corporation doesn’t need to have a physical presence in all countries it operates in. It just needs to have a reliable WiFi connection.
The reliance on technology has fed into the dominance of the English language in global business. This is because many of the most important technological innovations in recent times has been born out of the English-speaking world. And so, to gain access to these advances, a certain level of English proficiency is required.
A recent study has found that by 2020, two billion people will be studying English. This is a very strong indication that the English language will be a necessity of a business’ success in the near future. And so, is English still the language of global business? The short answer is a resounding ‘YES’.