Today we live in the world of communication and networking, where the flow of human and financial capital goes beyond the state borders. What does that mean for individual? Increasing opportunities and increasing challenges – that’s the answer. Among the increasing challenges I would, firstly, mention need for foreign languages knowledge. Today to be successful, to increase your employability and to enlarge your cultural capital you have to speak several languages. That’s the reality and it’s the must. Next question is what is the fastest and the most efficient way to acquire a new language? Follow me.
I would say that there is no one way how to learn foreign language fast and efficiently. Efficient language learning is a combination of various activities. Firstly, you have to be motivated – without motivation you cannot succeed in anything, especially learning the language where regularity and repetition is essential. Secondly, you need to have necessary tools and sources for your language training. You have to decide if you will join language learning program or you will relay on self-teaching materials. Third important component in acquiring the language is passive learning – you use the media to immerse in the language, to acquire the sound and tonality of the language you learn.
However you will not be successful in the learning the language if you don’t practice it. Note that practice should take place as often as possible. It is the case where the more you put in, the more you get out. Good news is that there are many possibilities to practice the language. You might find local polyglot society that organizes regular language training gatherings, maybe you have some acquaintance happy to talk with you in the language you wish to learn. If none of this is the case you still have a good chance to work on your language skills – there are plenty of language practice virtual communities and some of them provide their services for free.
Before joining a virtual community you should decide which one is the best for you. There are language and pen-pal communities that work within multiple-goal model (e.g. combine language practice with romantic aspirations) and communities that can be described as single goal oriented communities – they stick solely to the language practice. Such communities are orientated to the people who has a goal to practice the language and to get the maximum out of the time they spend online. In a single goal orientated virtual language communities one expects that the members have clearly professional aims and attitude; there is no mix with dating aspirations that could be troublesome aspect in some cases, especially if the language learner age is below 18 years. These virtual platforms welcome all people who wish to practice and improve their language skills in easy, welcoming atmosphere that at the same time is safe and unambiguous environment. Many parents will find this feature particularly relevant when thinking about how to help to their children to practice the foreign language and open them the gate to the global world.
So you are a social butterfly. The last thing you want is for your language learning to take the way of the hermit. Just because you work solo with a language learning software does not mean you have to lock yourself up in a room as your strategy for acquisition. In fact, many social-based activities can help reinforce your lessons and get you much needed time in the field.
Hit The Tables. Many colleges regularly see students who study a particular language congregating together during specific times of the day. Find the tables where those practicing your target language meet up and join them. A new face is always welcome as long as you have something to contribute.
Seek Out Local Groups. Chances are, there are local groups in your city where the target language is regularly practiced, either by expats from the home country or second language learners like you. Find them and ask around whether you can join in. No harm ever comes from asking and the good it can do you!
Set-Up Language Exchanges. Native English speakers who want to learn a foreign language have a tremendous upside: tons of people want to improve their English. As such, it is considerably easier for you to find folks from overseas that you can swap language training with. They will teach you their language, you teach them yours – the classic barter trade. Then, get into these activities for you to be helped with regards of leaning a new language.
Today, more than ever business is conducted in some kind of multicultural environment – at the office or with customers and colleagues abroad. Many companies, however, do not offer their personnel the necessary training to succeed in the global marketplace. Misunderstandings and poor communication are the result. Furthermore, employees are unable to manage cultural differences, expatriates suffer from culture shock thus negatively impacting the company’s productivity and foreign assignments end prematurely. All the above translate into major costs and losses to companies.
In fact, the main reason for failure in international business is not the lack of technical expertise or good will, but rather cultural illiteracy and the lack of people skills.
Knowledge of a foreign language is a key element in communicating across cultures. It not only promotes understanding and mutual respect by allowing for dialogue in another’s tongue but also gives an insight into foreign cultures and different ways of thinking. In fact it is believed that the language we speak not only expresses but also determines the way we think!
Learning a new language broadens our horizons, builds and strengthens relationships while allowing us to take advantage of new opportunities.
In view of the subtle yet powerful impact of culturally conditioned behavior on international business transactions, intercultural competence is now recognized as a critical element to succeeding on the global stage. Intercultural or cross-cultural trainings combine a company’s business skills with the necessary people skills. They provide management and staff with the knowledge and tools to develop general and specific intercultural skills in order to work more effectively with international clients or colleagues. Employees having received formalized cross-cultural training are more effective in leadership roles, are good communicators and valuable company ambassadors. Incidents of culture shock are reduced and the premature return rate for expatriates drops dramatically.
For a company, cross-cultural training is an investment that pays, yielding the benefits of increased productivity, successful business relationships, and the avoidance of costly misunderstandings.