English is the official language of the global marketplace of the future. Now, English is spoken in every corner of the world, especially in computer technology, business and the tourism industry. This trend shows no sign whatsoever of slowing down, as more and more countries make learning English compulsory in their schools.
What does this mean to a native speaker of English? For one thing, it gives you an added advantage. Everywhere you go in the world, there will be someone willing to accommodate you in your own native language or with a quick language translation.
This is a luxury that most of the world’s people don’t get to enjoy. It also means that if you run a business, you have an added advantage. People all over the world are trying their hardest to attain a competent level of English so that they can do business in the global market, but you’ve already got it.
But, don’t feel like you can stroll all over the world shouting, “Hi, how ya doin!” at everybody you see. We all know that English has become a world lingua franca, but you still may be shocked when you head overseas and find people giving you blank stares. You might think, “What happened to English as the world language?”
The truth is that language translation for writing e-mails, reading instruction manuals, and doing official business is very different than the language as it’s spoken on the street. Even though many people all over the world in non-English speaking countries can get high TOIEC scores, there are major gaps in their knowledge that only a native can understand.
– Idioms –
One particular example is the use of idioms. An idiom is a word or phrase that doesn’t mean exactly what it says literally. For example, “Tonight I’m hanging out with some friends.” Hanging out of where? This may sound like a bad joke, but it’s really not funny at all. There is no way for even an individual who majored in English in college to know that “hang out” has meanings other than “to hang out of something.”
Business speech and writing can be full of these little monsters. For example, I might “drop by the office to finish sealing a deal that hooks up my company with a distributor.” For somebody unacquainted with idioms, who takes this sentence literally, a pretty strange image takes shape in their mind about what exactly is going on at the office!
Idioms are difficult because they are not obvious, there are many of them, and they change over time. It really takes either a native speaker or someone with years of experience with a language to understand these idioms.
– New Coinages And Jargon –
With technology and business, new words are being created constantly. Even for a native speaker of English, if you take a long vacation you might come back and have to look up some new words and phrases.
Along with this, we have jargon. Jargon is speech that is specific to a certain trade or field. Every field has jargon, from computers, cars and real estate, to fishing, rock and roll music and sports. This specialized vocabulary can be very tough for a second language speaker to learn, and they also may change over time.
– Speech Style –
Finally, even for those who have mastered another language enough to get around, another challenge is learning how to alter your style of speech.
Take two situations – a night out with your friends, or an important business meeting. The way you would speak in both situations would be markedly different. This is another obstacle that needs to be overcome.
Sure, the world is getting smaller, and English is gaining hold as a world language. But, we still need the expertise of native speakers and bilinguals in order to get the job done right. luxury marketplace