Expanding your opportunities.
Expanding your world.
THE SKILLS TO SUCCEED IN A 21ST CENTURY ECONOMY
In 2009, foreign owned companies employed 188,500 workers in NC, with the most foreign investment by German owned companies. English speaking countries produce 30% of the world's GDP. The language majors offered at ECU make you an attractive employee to businesses in countries that produce another 25% of the world's GDP. The State of North Carolina exports $7.6 Billion to French-speaking countries (28.3% including Canada!); $3.6 Billion in trade to Spanish-speaking countries (13.4%); $1.6 Billion to Japan (6%); $1.1 Billion to Germany (4.1%); $261 Million to Russia (1%) and $242 Million to Italy (0.9%).
Foreign Language education nearly doubles the market access opportunities available to ECU students.
In a 2006 report on employers' perspectives on the basic knowledge and applied skills of new entrants to the 21st century workforce, 21% of employers report that Foreign Languages are "very important basic skills for job success for new workforce entrants" (p.18). While knowledge of foreign languages is very important currently to only 11% of jobs, the report says that it is becoming a "new basic skill that will increase in importance in the next five years, more than any other, according to 63.3 percent of the employer respondents." (pp.10, 19, 49).
The number one deficiency among new college graduates entering the workforce, as rated by prospective employers, is in foreign languages (p. 34), followed in 2nd place by ability to write well and written communication generally. When asked to select which emerging content areas will be "most critical" in the near future, roughly half of the employer respondents select "Use of Non-English Languages as a Tool for Understanding Other Nations, Markets, and Cultures (49.7 percent), and Demonstrate Understanding of Global Markets and the Economic and Cultural Impacts of Globalization (52.9 percent)." (p.49)
(cont.) Randy Steinhoff of Quest Diagnostics indicates: "We have employees in Mexico, Belgium, the UK, and conduct business in several international markets directly or through joint ventures. Foreign languages are important in a global economy. In the past, we had not paid enough attention to this. Now, knowledge of foreign languages is in our leadership profile. We’re asking people what languages they speak.”
Annette Byrd of GlaxoSmithKline points out the advantages of knowing a foreign language: “We are a global company with many people working on global teams and traveling to other countries." If they speak another language when on a global team or attend a meeting in another country, they are so much further ahead of their colleagues who have no foreign language skills.” She also noted that in many GlaxoSmithKline facilities in other countries, the employees speak English since it is a required language in schools.
In contrast, the United States Department of Education indicates that fewer than 8 percent of U.S. undergraduates take a foreign language class in a given year, and fewer than 2 percent study abroad. Most colleges do not require much study of foreign languages, nor are foreign languages emphasized in U.S. elementary and secondary schools, unlike schools in other industrialized nations.
Any relationship with a non-English speaker — whether economic, political, diplomatic or social — requires mutual understanding. Understanding their language and culture will help you understand the way they speak, think and react to your words. Without the ability to communicate and understand a culture on its own terms, we remain outsiders and we miss things that are important. Foreign Language degrees provide deep cultural competence with knowledge of literature, art, history, poetry, music, theatre, religion, philosophy, and digital media. Cultural competence is the soft skill that is essential to building business relationships and client retention.
A 2009 report on "What Business Wants" says, "Knowledge of the culture of a country and region is just as important as knowledge of the language. This is an integral part of a skill set not only for global professionals, but for any successful professional operating in a U.S.-based multicultural market. As an example, a company with operations throughout Latin America reported the loss of a multi-million dollar deal because it was not represented by someone who knew the particular country and culture of the potential partner. The employee knew Spanish, but not the culture or the specific business context. The deal blew up and was lost. Lost deals resulting from lack of understanding of cultural traits; as well as lost time, productivity, and trust in business relationships hurts the bottom line. Many businesses have to rely on translations of documents or interpretations by third parties during business negotiations. As a result, they lose many of the nuances of the business culture and professional interactions. With the rise of globalization, more businesses need to be better informed about different religions and cultural symbolism, particularly concerning marketing campaigns."
In addition to providing vital second language and second culture knowledge, a foreign language degree also improves:
· critical reasoning
· the ability to understand new systems and complex bureaucracies
· creative problem-solving
· team-building and collaboration
· open-mindedness, tolerance and empathy
· verbal ability in speaking, writing, listening and reading
· understanding of colleagues from diverse backgrounds
· adaptability to rapidly changing situations.
The 2006 report, "What Business Wants: Language Needs in the 21st Century (2009) lists these applied skills as the top things employers are looking for.
ADVANTAGES TO STUDYING FOREIGN LANGUAGES
For jobs in sales, marketing, and technical support, "usable" knowledge of a foreign language can add 10-15% to wages, and a wage advantage applies to other sectors as well, such as finance, manufacturing, import/export, and service. To communicate effectively in the workplace, the minimum education required is a minor or undergraduate major in foreign language. But you don't have to "just" major in foreign language: our students combine foreign language degrees with over 40 other degrees in the university, from business and biology to exercise sports physiology, K-12 education and criminal justice.
Foreign Language majors help ECU grads to earn more than peers with no usable ability in a second language.
English is the most commonly used language on the web, at 27.3%. But that leaves those without Foreign Language education blind to the remaining 72.7% of the web. The language majors offered at ECU provide students with access to an additional 22.6% of all websites, nearly doubling their ability to use online information. This trend will continue to accelerate because many of the languages offered at ECU are situated in regions with relatively low market penetration of the internet.
Foreign Language education gives ECU students a substantial advantage in access to online information, and this advantage will increase with time.
Foreign language learners travel more widely and easily and experience foreign places more enjoyably. They read the world’s literature without need for published translations. They watch foreign films without squinting at the subtitles. They meet and communicate with a broad array of people and build friendships across borders. Even within the diverse United States, they interact more successfully with their neighbors.
People who study foreign languages have richer lives.
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