Economic growth depends on many factors. Is the nation exporting more than importing – otherwise known as the balance of trade; is there high manufacturing output and are most of the working population actually in work?

The economy is one factor that drives growth but there are all too often factors which seem to be overlooked. The economic power of language is deeply underestimated. However, the business community, entrepreneurs, CEOs and corporation shareholders all know too well the need to get an overseas market to understand what it is you are selling.

A good economic return across the language divides can only be achieved by communication. If you cannot speak to your market, you cannot sell anything to them. There are many countries that actively look after multilingualism from the get-go. Schools teach a range of languages, universal languages are encouraged on public signage and in some countries, locals blether to one another in English or Spanish, even though it is not their mother tongue. It must always be remembered that practice makes perfect.

Multilingualism creates an innovative workforce. It has been made clear time and time again that bilinguals have a sharper and more adaptable mind than monolinguals. One only has to look at classic examples of where multilingualism actually works: Switzerland, with its four languages, has increased its GDP (Gross Domestic Production) by as much as 10 percent.

The Swiss factor is down to its companies and services being able to freely trade with Italian, German, French and English-speaking nations. If a nation can invest more in language building, it can export more goods and services. True, there are translation tools, translators and those who help us to bridge the communication barriers, but it costs business to use them.

Swiss companies will not have to use translators or services helping with communication to the surrounding EU trading block, as it can do so with its own merit. Moreover, using translation tools is a sure-fire way of falling into miscommunication scenarios and poorly translated phrases. It is far better than the business workforce can speak the language than get someone else to translate for it.

The good news about learning a foreign language is that one does not have to exercise fluency. A positive outcome – even in business – can come about from an understanding and a communique that makes a trade work.

Hardach, S. (n.d.). Speaking more than one language can boost economic growth. Retrieved March 20, 2018, from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/02/speaking-more-languages-boost-economic-growth/