Globalisation: the good, the bad and the necessary

by Linguarama 15. November 2011 11:48

In light of the recent wave of anti-capitalist protests, the Linguarama Blog is going to explore the many complex and sometimes controversial connotations of Globalisation.

Globalisation has become a buzz word for business. Thanks to its effects, the world has become a smaller place and trade is now freer than ever before.

Recently however, in the wake of the current financial crisis, the buzzword has become a byword for uncertainty in the fragile economic climate we live in.

So is globalisation an unstoppable force for good? Do the prospects for a homogenised world wide work place look glum? And what part will languages play in an increasingly integrated international market place?

First, a cost benefits analysis.

The ongoing question as to when globalisation began is still being debated today. One undeniable point is that over the last 20 years, the coming together of the world’s markets has benefited businesses both big and small. National interests and protectionism have taken a back seat in favour of blurred borders and expansion. Some argue its ubiquitous presence even encourages peace and prosperity between countries while others advocate the advantages of easier travel and improved communication links.

The cost of globalisation however, has become a bone of contention for many who feel that free trade is detrimental to developing economies and low cost travel has had an irreversible effect on the environment. Many suggest that the movement of labour leaves poorer countries lacking in skilled workers, thus keeping them in a perpetual state of poverty.

Globalisation’s impact on languages has been immense. To ensure they do not get left behind in the global market, companies the world over have been investing in language learning to compete on an international scale.

Over the past 40 years that we have been training business people to speak new languages Linguarama has seen a remarkable shift in the languages being requested. At the beginning, in addition to English, the demand was mostly for European languages with occasional requests for Brazilian Portuguese and Japanese. But now Russian, Chinese, Arabic and Spanish for South America form a large part of the training we offer. This reflects the increasing internationalisation and globalisation of business.

So is globalisation good or bad? I think we can conclude it is a little of both and as Kofi Annan so eloquently puts it: arguing against globalisation is like arguing against the laws of gravity.”  Globalisation is not going anywhere for the foreseeable future. Our advice would be to grab it with both hands and embrace what it has to offer, languages and all!   

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