Language is profitable Today's governments, organizations and businesses have to do more and more in a global scenario. Norway is no longer limited by national boundaries and distance and as a result, globalization has increasingly led to a greater need for language skills in the workplace. The need for effective and clearly inter-cultural communication is essential to ensure success in today's globalized workplace.
Several companies in Norway and other countries require in job announcements employees with excellent multilingual skills. Gerard Doetjes works for the Foreign Language Centre in Østfold and agrees that language knowledge is profitable.
- Companies that do not have sufficient knowledge of language may miss the big contracts for just that reason that one does not understand the opportunities that lie ahead of the company. There are particularly many export companies in Østfold, which can make use of having multi-lingual staff, says Doetjes.
Østfold is a county with proximity to Europe with both airport and rail line. Doetjes suggest that the location factor means that more companies should invest more in languages.
- The world does not consist only of Norway alone, the outside world is actually quite close to Østfold. One is simply forced to use other languages than English and Norwegian. When we meet potential customers from other countries, communication is the key to doing good business, says Doetjes.
Foreign languages in Norway Council of Europe has decided that pupils should be trained in at least two foreign languages. In Norway, the language ambitions are at a lower level. Many pupils complete primary school without receiving training in more than one foreign language. After the Knowledge Lift curriculum was introduced in 2006, the proportion of those choosing foreign language in secondary schools increased slightly. The proportion of pupils taking foreign languages during the last school year was 74 percent. But language is not mandatory, and it makes the subject's status low. In high school hwoever, foreign language is compulsory. But beyond this is the students lack of interest. Only 802, 176 and 246 pupils were registered, respectively in Spanish, German or French in the school year 2008-2009.
A survey conducted for the Centre for Foreign Languages in 2007, revealed some grim numbers. While German was used by 48 per cent of the companies in 1973, this had fallen to 18 percent in 2005. French fell from 21 to 8 per cent in the same period. This has of course consequences for the business community.
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