In the past, countries would tend to primarily deal with partners who were in the same trading block as themselves so the need for foreign speaking workers was minimal. Now thanks to advancements in technology such as the internet and mobile phones it is possible to contact people anywhere in the world within a second making business with faraway places much easier. The other main reason is the advancement of traditionally less developed countries such as Thailand, Taiwan, Vietnam and Korea who have entered the mass manufacturing sector and are now exporting a large amount of goods to the mainly English speaking western countries. Anything from consumer electronics, sports items, and clothing to food and builders items gets shipped from the Far East to the west for the end users.
An example of the need for English workers can be found by looking at one of the biggest companies in the world – Apple. Apple manufactures their iPhone and iPods via a company called Foxconn who are a Taiwanese based company but actually make their products out of Shenzen, China. This company is manufacturing and exporting billions of dollars worth of hardware, it is essential that they have a core group of English speaking employees who can communicate effectively with the US to ensure everything is going smoothly.
That being said, China, Brazil and India are growing superpowers with much more potential to increase their GDP beyond that of Western Europe and the USA. If China continue to grow at the rate they are then they will be the number one economy in the world, they already lend billions of dollars to the US government as it is and they are only just beginning to get an emerging middle class so it is frightening to this just how powerful they may become. If this was indeed the case then people would find it much more necessary to speak Chinese. The main factor against this however is the fact that China is just one country, it doesn’t matter how big, rich or powerful a country is they simply can’t compete against a group of countries and in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the US, UK and Ireland there is a large proportion of the globe covered.
So taking everything in to account, if you are an employee or an employer it would definitely be worthwhile ensuring your staff can speak English. It would be beneficial to have at least 2 members of staff who can speak it fluently in order to translate for senior members of staff but everybody should be able to speak conversational English, there is nothing worse than receiving an email that has been written using Google translate, it never reads well and is very unprofessional. There are numerous options available to teach English, the best option is to get your employees to go on TESOL courses, these courses are tailor made for people who don’t speak it as a native language, and they are specifically run by people who are trained to teach non English speakers as well. Your other available options include sending some of your employees on after work college courses to learn English run by universities, the down side to this is that it takes longer and it will be more expensive.
In conclusion, the modern business world is a rapidly changing environment, nobody knows which direction it will take, who will be the new superpower and what the language to learn will be but at present there is no doubting that is English. Due to the large middle and upper classes in English speaking countries that have the expendable income to buy expensive products it means that for the time being the Far Eastern countries will be manufacturing and supplying them. This means that they will have to be able to speak reasonable English to deal with their customers who will be English speaking on the whole. English is classed currently as the ‘international language’ as it is used by all captains on boats and planes, it is a useful language to learn whether you need it or not. If you ask most English people they would like to learn another language but they just simply don’t feel the need to at the moment.