Flagship State Roadmaps
City-based Language Summits
Metro Language Series: Continuing the Dialogue with Business
The success of the “2007 U.S. Language Summits” sparked The Language Flagship to initiate a new metropolitan-based series in 2008 focused on the language skills needed by business and the role the business sector can play to advance language education in the United States. The “Metro Language Series” kicked off in the Spring of 2008 with concerted think tank sessions in San Francisco and Seattle, followed by sessions in the Fall in New York City and Washington, D.C.. Thirty-five representatives of small-, medium, and large-sized companies as well as organizations supporting business development in their region contributed their insights to these sessions. Participants brought a broad range of experience not only in terms of their responsibilities, but the breadth of industry sectors they represented. This included business people from research and product development; marketing and branding; international business development and sales; domestic workforce management; and human resources.
The key findings from these the Metro Language Series have been summarized in the report, “What Business Wants: Language Needs in the 21st Century.”
Below please find the compilation of notes from the individual sessions of the Metro Language Series.
What Business Wants: Language Needs in the 21st Century
The Language Flagship 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 over one hundred business leaders to identify the role and value of languages and cultural skills to business’ bottom line. Equally important it identified potential roles for business as an integral part of a dynamic that will bring significant change to language education in the United States. The resulting report, “What Business Wants: Language Needs in the 21st Century” summarizes the findings that companies do need language and cultural skills on their staff for improving global business practices and for serving a domestically based multi-lingual workforce and clientele.
Key Findings: Key Foreign Language Needs in the Corporate Sector
The totality of findings may be summarized by these key points illuminating need for languages and the commensurate of cost of not having language and cultural skills readily available on staff.
These points are discussed in detail in the report; they are listed below:
- Develop New Business and Keep it
- Avoid Mystery Pain: Negotiate Solid Agreements
- Serve Clients, Customers and Partners Well
- Succeed with External Communications in Other Cultures
- Manage Cross-national Projects and Sales with Efficiency
- Win the War for Talent
- Use Translation, Interpretation, and Localization Judiciously and with Caution
In the face of strong perceptions that English is -- and will continue to be -- the lingua franca of international business and that most companies address their language needs through creative “workarounds” (hiring in-country nationals and using translators), Flagship sought to delineate the actual needs of business for an American workforce with global skills including advanced language proficiency. This also included domestic business dealings with a multilingual workforce and/or clientele. We were impressed to learn of a real need and real opportunity costs, as well as a call for more systematic discussion of the role and value of language skills not only within the business sector, but throughout American education and society.
The Business Participants
During 2008, Flagship brought together thirty-eight representatives from a broad cross-section of the U.S. business community to participate in a Metro Language Series in San Francisco, Seattle, New York, and Washington, D.C. These sessions gleaned insights about the value and role of global skills in business success. This series was an important next step to an inquiry begun in 2006 with the development of three state-focused Language Roadmaps designed to address the economic and social imperatives for a globalized workforce at the state and local level. The Roadmap efforts – in Ohio, Oregon, and Texas -- convened over seventy business leaders whose input was critical to the development of strategies and policies responding to identified needs for language education.
Participants in both the Language Summits and the Metro Language Series brought a broad range of experience to these sessions not only in terms of their responsibilities, but in the breadth of industry sectors they represented. Business sectors included: hotel and travel industry; food services; high technology; transportation and shipping; aviation; banks; law firms; engineering and industrial development; waste and water management; international business development; automobile industry; as well as a number of economic development agencies. Participants represented views from research and product development; marketing and branding; international business development and sales; financial and legal services; domestic workforce management; large-scale project management; and corporate human resources.
This summary reviews not only key insights from session participants regarding serious need for language and cultural skills in business, but also the role business can play in affecting significant change in language education throughout the U.S. education system.
Annual Reports Archive: Overview
The Language Flagship provides an Annual Report to Congress on progress and results of the program. Please see attached The Language Flagship Annual Reports.