A great move, for business or pleasure
Speaking a foreign language can give you a competitive edge. Photo: AAP Image
Proficiency in a foreign language gives people a career or business leg-up. It will also make an overseas holiday more interesting.
As technology and transport shrink the world, more people want to learn a foreign language.
Travellers realise a crash course will ensure a richer holiday experience. Employees know mastering another language will help them get a foreign posting or rise up the ranks of a multinational.
‘‘Speaking another language always impresses, whatever your skill level,’’ says Rohan Baker, managing director of Berlitz Australia. ‘‘From a business standpoint, learning another language makes sense.’’
Berlitz is famous for more than phrasebooks and travel guides. It runs courses that help people master foreign languages fast.
Why do so many Australians see learning a new language as an impossible challenge?
‘‘Australians tend not to want to learn a language unless they have to,’’ Baker says. ‘‘People think they don’t have the time, it’s too expensive or it’s too hard.’’
Even those who want to learn are often confused about the best approach. Should they go to community college? TAFE? Do an online course? Buy a DIY guide?
‘‘Ultimately, these all come up short for most people,’’ Baker says. ‘‘When learning a language, people lose interest unless they see progress fast. You’re not going to achieve that in a group class of 20 people.’’
Time is important for many who want a language for business or career reasons.
‘‘Companies understand the competitive edge they gain by having Australian employees who can speak another language, even at a simple conversational level,’’ Baker says.
‘‘People from other countries greatly respect English speakers who have made the effort to learn their language. It helps businesses locally and abroad.’’
Some Berlitz students want to get the most from a overseas holiday.
‘‘You don’t need to be totally fluent,’’ Baker says. ‘‘Those going on holiday typically want to get around, order food and buy things without hassle.’’
French, Japanese and Italian are popular with travellers. Business students focus more on German, Spanish and Chinese. (Berlitz also teaches English to newlyarrived foreign workers and migrants, including children.)
At Berlitz, you choose the pace – from total immersion to individual sessions. It beats struggling to keep up, or slow down, in a crowded classroom.
‘‘The difference with Berlitz is we’re flexible. Our lessons are one-on-one or private small groups of friends or colleagues. You have the teacher’s full attention and can choose how often you study. Times aren’t fixed – you can adjust them to fit your schedule.’’
Berlitz has more than 500 branches around the world: ‘‘That means you can begin a course in Sydney and continue in Sao Paolo, Tokyo or Paris.’’
Berlitz has a branch in Sydney’s CBD, and is about to open in Parramatta.
‘‘We can come to your home, office, or even arrange classes online,’’ Baker says. ‘‘Berlitz is about providing maximum convenience and personalised service.
‘‘Our teachers are from a variety of backgrounds and professions. You’re not going to get an inexperienced 21-year-old uni graduate.
‘‘All our instructors are qualified, and most have worked for Berlitz branches overseas. Quality is everything to us.’’
It’s never too late to learn, Baker says. Older people tend to have the time and dedication to become proficient: ‘‘Many of our customers are mature adults or retirees. Our oldest student is 87.
Here is the copy of this article on The Sydney Morning Herald: