Trade Forum Says Look beyond Europe for Upcoming Language Skills; LANGUAGES

Article excerpt

Companies need to look beyond Europe when it comes to developing their employees' language skills, a major West Midland trade body has said.

The president of the region's largest international trade group told a European conference that businesses should look beyond traditional languages and start learning Far Eastern tongues.

Peter Mathews, president of the Midlands World Trade Forum, told a conference on Languages, Business and Intercultural Skills in Brussels that he was a "British, European and a global person" and travelling around the world had shown him how important it was to learn a second language.

He said: "If we go back 15 years or so, the priority languages to learn, from an English point of view, were French, Spanish and German and most other European languages were in the top 10.

"Now I would say that Mandarin is the most important, followed by Spanish, with Russian also becoming increasingly important.

"We have to realise how important language is for our future, for our children, grandchildren and our great-grandchildren.

"There are more Chinese people learning English than there are English people in England and even though English is the world's commercial language, it's not good enough. …