Expats find language the biggest obstacle

Published:  4 Sep at 2 PM
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A recent survey has found that being unable to speak the language in other countries is the greatest obstacle faced by expats working overseas.

The global mobility industry survey discovered that 61 per cent of senior managers are of the opinion that being unable to speak to local language is the greatest challenge that expats have to contend with. In addition, over half of the managers felt that speaking the local language is vital for carrying out business overseas.

However, just 37 per cent of those quizzed said their company provided the opportunity of learning the relevant language as part of their employment packages for expats. Reasons stated for this included the cost of learning the language, how it’s not always important to have a large number of multilingual staff and the time it takes to learn a new language.

The survey discovered that Mandarin is the language expats most want to learn, a fact that highlights the increasing number of businesses aiming to get a foothold in China. Other languages which are regularly requested to be learnt among expats include Spanish, German, French and Portuguese.

Judy Verses of Rosetta Stone, the language training firm which conducted the survey, said that speaking the local language when living abroad helped expats communicate with business partners and colleagues, while also increasing productivity and ensuring the expat fulfils his or her objectives.

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