Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

As the World Shrinks Executives Hone Language Abilities

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

As the World Shrinks Executives Hone Language Abilities

Article excerpt

THE foreign language industry is booming, as more American executives jump on the bilingual bandwagon to do business across the border and overseas.

Berlitz International Inc., headquartered in Princeton, N.J., reports that enrollment among executives in the United States increased 27 percent between 1987 and 1992. With more than 328 offices in 31 countries, Berlitz leads the field in teaching foreign languages to executives, says Patricia Sze, director of marketing for Berlitz.

Second-place Inlingua, which is privately owned, also experienced a steady increase in enrollment among executives over the last few years, says Cynthia Samaras, executive director of the Inlingua School of Languages in Boston.

"Events around the world have definitely changed the perspective of Americans regarding learning a {foreign} language," Ms. Sze says.

The most popular languages among executives are Spanish, English, French, German, Italian, and Japanese, in that order.

"The passage of NAFTA is definitely fueling the demand for Spanish," Sze says. Spanish accounted for more than one-third of Berlitz enrollments last year and is still growing. Sara Lee Corporation, one of Berlitz's biggest clients, has been sending a steady flow of executives for Spanish training, since it recently opened branches in Mexico and elsewhere.

ART of the reason Spanish is so popular, Sze says, is because people can justify the expense and the time to learn the language. Not only is Spanish helpful in international business, but it is spoken widely in places such as Miami, Los Angeles, New York, and parts of Texas. And people frequently use Spanish to enhance a vacation.

English is still the No. 1 language taught worldwide. It has become "the language of commerce throughout the world," Ms. Samaras says.

Berlitz reports that Russian is growing the fastest in popularity among American executives. …

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