Monday, January 21, 2008
What Language Shall We Speak?
Observed in an Italian restaurant in Milan: A group of businessmen speaking Chinese among themselves, switching to English to order and discuss the menu with the waiter who, moments before, had been speaking Italian with all other customers. For the diners and the waiter was the common language allowing reasonably smooth communication.
We hear that English is THE language of business today, allowing enterprises to function, meals to be ordered world-wide. However, speaking English may not be enough. When working in Rome, my Italian guide and I found that the language most effective for us was a combination of Italian, French and English. Recognizing the level of our language skills, we adapted and with much laugher were able work together, converse clearly, accomplishing what we set out to do.
Create choices for yourself. Learn a few words of the language used at your destination. Please and thank in the local tongue are powerful tools for building connections. Learn a few phrases, common words. (Check out www. podcastalley.com or www.worldnomads.com for lessons, useful phrases) You never know when speaking some Spanish, French, Italian, Mandarin or Polish can make a difference.