Arabic Rated the Second Most Important Language for UK Businesses

Arabic Rated the Second Most Important Language for UK Businesses

A new initiative has been introduced into UK schools by the British Council to get more school children interested in studying languages. However, unlike the ubiquitous French and German classes that are currently undersubscribed in schools across the UK, this new initiative is a project with a difference.

The British Council has been spurred to introduce the teaching of Arabic into eight clusters of schools across the UK after research revealed it was the second most important language for future UK businesses. The study, which took into account the UK’s export links, government trade priorities, most popular holiday destinations, and diplomatic and security priorities, found that only Spanish was a more important language for children to learn.

Arabic is not only accessible, it’s also in great demand

Arabic is currently in great demand across a range of UK business sectors, but there’s a real shortage of well-qualified speakers. The culture, history and politics of much of the Arab world are so different that many young learners prefer to stick with languages a little closer to home.

Such is the dearth of Arabic speakers that government departments, the armed forces and many UK businesses are willing to pay their employees to study the language at an advanced level. As one of the six official UN languages, Arabic can be a real boost to the CV of anyone looking to start a career in international organisations and diplomacy, as well as tourism, journalism and international trade, particularly in the energy industry. Many of these jobs are also well paid, so studying Arabic at an early age is an excellent choice to develop the skills that will set language learners apart.

One written language with many spoken varieties

The lack of Arabic learners in UK schools and universities is attributed to the fact that many people believe it to be one of most difficult languages to learn. Arabic is written from right to left for a start, which can certainly be off-putting for some (try doing that in English and you’ll soon realise just how hard it can be!). However, Japanese is still currently more popular in UK schools despite there being thousands more characters to learn.

Arabic is not the language of a single county, but of 26 different nations across the Middle East and North Africa. There isn’t a single Arabic language as different dialects are spoken from country to country. This means that Arabic learners will have to get to grips with the universal written language, known as fus-ha, which translates as ‘the purest’, and one of the locally spoken dialects, which vary in pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary.

The top ten future languages for UK businesses

French has consistently been the most popular language in UK schools, but this latest research shows how it is slowly slipping down the league table in its level of importance for UK businesses. According to the British Council, the most important languages for the UK’s businesses are:

1. Spanish
2. Arabic
3. French
4. Mandarin Chinese
5. German
6. Portuguese
7. Italian
8. Russian
9. Turkish
10. Japanese

In 2010, the schools secretary Ed Balls warned British businesses that Mandarin was the language of the future and wanted at least one school in every area to offer it as a subject at secondary level. Now all that has changed, and Arabic has become the lingua franca for British businesses with international aspirations.

An Arabic translation and interpreting service

If you’re yet to plug your skills gap with an Arabic speaker, we offer a full mother tongue translation and interpreting service that can help your business make waves in the Arab world. For more information, please get in touch with the Linguistica International translation team today.


International social media

Our Guide to Localising your International Social Media Campaign

The world is in the grip of a social media explosion. Just a few years ago, it used to be enough to have a business website to capitalise on those online opportunities, but nowadays, social media is king. Without a Twitter account or a Facebook page, your online business is virtually prehistoric.

The money businesses are spending on social media is on the rise. In 2014, 80 percent of businesses reported increased traffic to their website as a result of their social media efforts, while 66 percent generated additional leads. This shows how effective a well-run social media campaign can be at tapping into audiences that were previously off limits, and helping to create a recognisable international brand.

Navigating the minefield of localising your social media campaign for each market can be daunting, particularly on a limited budget, but there are a few a steps you can take to create international social media campaigns that support your expansion plans.

1. Define the market

Twitter, Facebook and YouTube might be all the rage in the UK and across much of the western world, but if you’re planning to expand into Asia, particularly China, then it’s Qzone and Renren that you’ll have to get to grips with.

Not every social media channel will be the right fit for your brand. While LinkedIn is great for reaching out to a corporate audience, visual sharing platforms like Instagram or Pinterest are more effective for lifestyle businesses like fashion, food and interior design.

Once you’ve decided which social media platforms will appeal to your target country and market, you need to understand exactly what that market are using the platform for. Are they watching videos, reading articles or private messaging? Ask yourself what makes a particular channel popular; once you have the answer, you can start creating your localised content.

2. Consider the culture

To travel effectively across international borders, it’s essential your content is culturally relevant and native to each target market. The best way to create culturally relevant content is to use a mother tongue linguist who lives and works in the target country. Their innate understanding of societal norms and cultural conventions will help to create content that introduces your brand to a new market in an appealing way.

3. Create assets that can be easily localised

Creating assets that appeal to your target market can be a time consuming and sometimes expensive business, but creating infographics, videos and original articles with localisation in mind can help to reduce the costs and increase the return on your investment.

Something as simple as sending infographics as .psd files rather than .jpgs, which will have to be edited all over again, can help to save a huge amount of time and expense.

4. Stay up to date

When it comes to social media assets created for multiple markets, some social media platforms are real stickers for the rules. YouTube, for instance, has strict rules in place that international marketers must adhere to, and simply putting different subtitles in place usually won’t do. Meanwhile, in China, there are certain words you are simply not allowed to use. Failure to adhere to the rules could lead to a ban from all social networks.

How are you localising your international social media campaigns? We’d love to hear your thoughts, so please leave your two cents’ worth in the comments section below, or drop us a line on Twitter.