How important is English at work?
Yes, yes! We all know that Dubai has won the Expo 20202. Who doesn’t know to be honest? We hear about it every time we turn the radio on and each time we stare at a magazine. It even seems like most email signatures have a 2020 logo in it. But what does it really mean for Dubai? Winning the bid has definitely boosted people’s confidence in the UAE’s job market.
In March 2014, 52% of respondents from the bayt.com Consumer Index survey said that they felt the economy in Dubai had improved in the last 6 months and are confident that the trend will continue over the next 6months.
But where does English come into to all this? With the increase in business, Dubai is going to have to deal more and more with companies internationally. Also, tourism will pick up considerably. Most companies that deal with counterparts from abroad will communicate in English and most tourist will try to communicate in English while in Dubai. Yes, Arabic is the official language here in Dubai, but look at hotel staff! Can they actually all speak Arabic? Of course not! Most communicate in English.
When employees deal with customers either face-to-face, over the phone or by email, they represent their company and its values. They promote the company and its brand.
Think about when you go to a hotel; if a member of staff is rude or doesn’t understand what you are trying to say, you associate the hotel with being rude. I know that most of the time I personally blame the hotel for not having given good training to their staff. On the other, if the staff is polite and attentive, the hotel’s image improves in my mind.
When I ask the question, How important is English at work?, I am not just talking about the actual language, but also about the culture. Being able to understand other cultures and adapting to others, whether customers or colleagues, is a key skill for any employee.
Don’t get me wrong, language is very important. How many companies lose business because their staff misunderstands certain things over the phone, especially in Dubai. Now think about companies that deal with clients internationally. If a client in the UK or the United States receives an email that he or she cannot understand because of bad English, it doesn’t really give the company a good image.
Providing language training to employees that deal with customers is a smart move for any company. I see so many badly written emails from people looking for work that I could make a book out of them. Now I know that it’s not necessarily their fault as they may not have had the opportunity to study English formally. However, there are certain things which are not related to language. When someone puts in the email subject “Plez help”, yes the language is bad but what is even worse is how they decide to put themselves across. Begging for a job is never good and no employer will take someone on who begs.
This is now common sense and something that can be improved over time and understanding of other cultures. Maybe it is acceptable to beg for work in other cultures but it certainly isn’t in western culture.
Just to finish, I would like to say to everyone that maybe your company doesn’t have a budget for your training, however, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to improve your language skills. There are so many resources out there for free.
Websites such as BBC learning English offers lots of good things for free. Meet people, ask them, listen to them and practice!