A study of foreign language training in Lancashire companies

Davies, Joy (1994) A study of foreign language training in Lancashire companies. Masters thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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1994, a time when sixty per cent of British exports go to non-English speaking countries is an appropriate time to consider perceptions about foreign languages and their use in Lancashire companies
The research was carried out by sending postal questionnaires to both personnel managers and export managers in 174 Lancashire companies with more than 200 employees. The questionnaires were followed up by interviews with selected
personnel and export managers.
The findings revealed that more Lancashire companies had business contact with France than with any other country. This was followed very closely by Germany. In terms of language competence, there is considerably greater knowledge of French than German but generally language levels are insufficient to be able to carry out business in any language other than English.
More than half the companies in the sample have taken some initiatives to increase the level of language skills but one third had taken no action at all although they had business contacts with non-English speaking countries. Action taken includes
recruiting foreign nationals, using translators or interpreters, and training British staff in foreign languages.
However, few people receive foreign language training since it is usually perceived as a useful extra rather than as essential. This is because most of the companies believe that English will continue to be the dominant language for business and that levels of competence in English will become higher and more widespread.
Although most export managers concurred that knowledge of a foreign language, however basic, makes business trips easier and improves relations with overseas contacts, training is unlikely to be provided for them because in many companies there is no formal training strategy and therefore no effective means of identifying needs and evaluating appropriate training.

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