English Skills | France, You Are the Weakest Link!
If you plan to enter into the French market, or even if you already have a presence there, you should be prepared to reach your audience in French, in order to increase the impact of your message and improve the efficiency of your cross-border operations.
Indeed, nearly 46% of French executives have insufficient English skills. Further reports confirm the weak linguistic skills of the French workforce and the population as a whole.
English skills of the French workforce are among the weakest in Europe
Although 70% of French executives recognise they will have to use English at work, 43% of them are not at ease when writing a letter or an e-mail.
Besides, the French workforce is the second worst in Europe in terms of English skills, slightly ahead of its Italian counterpart, while the top 3 are Netherlands, Sweden and Belgium.
Even when the results are broken down by industry, France has an average or below average score, apart from the consulting industry, where the country is ranked above average.
The French population has the weakest English skills in Europe
According to the EF English Proficiency Index (EPI), the world’s largest ranking of English skills, Sweden, Norway and Netherlands lead the way. With a score reflecting low proficiency, France currently has the poorest skills in Europe and seems to be on a declining trend. This result is backed up by recent Eurostat data, which show that only 13% of French adults speaking English perceive themselves as proficient in this language.
The overall poor performance of France is likely due to limited exposure to English in everyday life, an adverse effect of the protection of French language by law.
Bridge the linguistic and cultural gap with professional French translators
In today’s increasingly interconnected world, “online and mobile technologies combine to enable instant contact. […] But instant contact does not mean smooth communication. Although many decry globalization’s omnipresence, national languages and cultures remain highly distinctive and deep-rooted. […] Companies find themselves stretched between opposing forces. Global competition drives businesses to operate internationally, but their employees’ limited linguistic skills and cultural inflexibility hamper communication with partners and customers outside their own countries” (EF EPIc report, 2012).
Companies should bridge the gap with professional French translators, in order to make “the difference between efficient cross-border operations and missed opportunities”.
Now, I’d love to hear from you!
How does your company plan to communicate with a French audience?
Which major linguistic and cultural issues have you had to deal with?
Do you think there is a strong correlation between smooth international communication and the success of cross-border businesses?
Let me know in the comments below!
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