Count the cost of one language

5th August 2005 at 01:00
Peter Wilby is perfectly right to say that English is the language which dominates international popular and elite culture (TES, July 8). His mistake is then to assume that English is enough.

Imagine you are the human resources manager of a large international company and you are considering the CVs of half a dozen graduate applicants for IT posts. They all have equally good computing qualifications and they all speak excellent English. However the applicants from Germany, France, Spain, Denmark and Poland all speak their own native tongue, and another language, too. Our home-grown candidate is from a university which anticipated the wisdom of Wilby last year by axing all foreign language provision. He, consequently, speaks only English. The multilingual European candidates have all lived, studied and worked in other countries as part of their degree courses.

So which candidate would you be inclined to employ? Which candidate is likely to have the adaptability, cultural awareness and communication skills which are so necessary in truly international organisations?

David Winter Staffordshire Languages Group 10 Lower Oxford Road Newcastle, Staffordshire

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