Several years ago a video went viral. It featured a man and a woman talking on a sofa. The woman is complaining about pain and pressure she’s experiencing. The camera is zoomed in tight to heighten dramatic effect, which limits you to seeing no more than just one side of her lower face. The man is sympathetically nodding but there’s something mysterious and conflicted about his expression. As he stumbles toward a suggestion, the camera pans out and you’re able to see the woman’s full profile: protruding from her forehead is a nail. This is what the man has tried to communicate but she’ll have none of it. It’s not about the nail.
English for Specific Purposes (ESP) is a subset of English as a Second Language (ESL). ESP is about more than just vocabulary. It also focuses on methodology. This learner-centered approach focuses on developing competence in a specific discipline, such as business.
One of our company values at Emmersion is to be a Truth Seeker. To be a Truth Seeker is to continuously look for new perspectives and gain new information about ourselves. We are comfortable with questions—even questions that seem tinged with criticism. We are passionate in mastering our craft, so we welcome a chance to reflect on, and then respond to, a critique.
When I Google, “English is the language of business”, I get 4.2 million results. When I Google, the same for Chinese, I get half as many results. Clearly, there is much written on the importance of English in business, but what I find interesting is the lack of information about the fact that the world’s largest economy (the United States) does not have the lead (growth) it once had.
Covid-19 and the reverberations of its disruption continue to touch every corner of our economy and society. We are extremely sensitive to the difficulties that many people are facing. We feel fortunate that our mission aligns with recovery efforts. Last post I touched on how our work can help people get back to work. This week feels like a return to my heartland: academia.
Language needs in the 21st century
The Language Flagship, an initiative of the National Security Education Program (NSEP) at the U.S. Department of Defense, has undertaken one of the most systematic efforts, to date, to assess and understand the needs for global skills in business. Over the past three years, this effort engaged more than 100 business leaders to identify the role and value of languages and cultural skills to business’ bottom line. Of equal importance, it identified a potential role for business as an integral part of a dynamic that will bring significant change to language education in the United States.
While we are mindful of the uncertainty of the present situation around the world, our hope is that the current record high levels of unemployment will shortly give way to record high hiring. As a growing business, we know that hiring the right people is not just a part of running a business, it is the key to running a successful business. That’s why we are committed to designing solutions that help business around the world find the right people with the right skillset.
English is the global language for international business. English is the fastest-spreading language in human history, spoken usefully by some 1.75 billion people—that’s one in every four of us. In a 2012 HBR article, Tsedal Neeley said, “Ready or not, English is now the global language of business. More and more multinational companies are mandating English as the common corporate language in an attempt to facilitate communication and performance across geographically diverse functions and business endeavors.”
I have spent the past 13 years in the language testing industry. With the merger of webCAPE and TrueNorth, I'm even more excited about the future of language testing and development. The Emmersion team has impressive resources that will advance the industry of language learning to new levels. Rather than write a soliloquy of my journey that would mostly serve myself; I thought, instead, I would write a post that hopefully has some utility for those that might read it.
As individuals, communities and nations look to improve their economic situations, learning English is key. A survey by The Economist Intelligence Unit found 90 percent of global corporate executives agreed if “cross-border communication” improved, the company’s profits and market share would significantly increase. Gaining basic English language skills opens the door to educational, employment, entertainment, and business opportunities.