The Center for Language Instruction & Coordination organized and held a symposium on business and languages in emerging markets on Friday, April 29, 2016 at the Illini Union. This blog covers the second half of the symposium consisting of the networking with business professionals and student panel discussion. The first part of the symposium included a pedagogical workshop on integrating business content into language curricula and a lecture on the LESCANT approach as a Framework for intercultural business communication. The networking with business professional consisted of a panel of business professionals who make significant use of language. The participating business professionals were: Steve Carlson, Director of Campus Brazil; Steve Doench, CCA, Director of Business Development, Agrible Inc.; Shahbaz Shabbir, Lecturer, College of Business; Mark Wolters, Lecturer, College of Business.
“The translator liberates the language imprisoned in a work.”
“Translation is not a matter of words only: it is a matter of making intelligible a whole culture.”
Center for Translation Studies at the UIUC offers a certificate program, an MA program to become translator, courses in professional translation and translation technology, medical, legal translation, and theory. These courses are designed towards learning how to break into the world as a freelance translator. According to the representative from the Center for Translation Studies, the translation sector will increase by 50% from now to 2020 so it is worthwhile to think of translation as a career. One of the representatives from the Center for Translation Studies, Laura, had herself worked for many big companies like Porsche, BMW when she was a freelancer. Sometimes the work consists not only of translation but also of transcreation, that is, translating and copywriting.
Steve Carson was present in his ability as Director of US operations of Campus Brasil. Campus Brasil is a custom study program coordinator specializing in customized, short-term, faculty-led study programs. Campus Brasil acts as a doorway to connect visiting learners to a vast culturally, economically and ecologically diverse country that Brazil is.
Mark Wolters who teaches marketing in the College of Business put forward that whatever job one has nowadays, one is going to be travelling and language can make a bridge to the people and environment one is going to work into. One does not have to be necessarily fluent but even knowing bits and pieces of the language open doors. Nowadays, learning underutilized languages can be very powerful because the world increasingly interconnected, for instance, many of the commodities we use come from Brazil, Africa, Asia. Mark Wolters’ advice was for students not to pass up the opportunity of learning languages. Mark Wolters recalled with fondness the number of business deals he made and other perks he obtained just by using his broken Polish and Hungarian.
Steve Doench of Agrible Inc. felt he would have definite advantage by learning foreign languages. He noticed that people speaking different languages were the ones at the top positions and making the decisions. He wished he had learned Portuguese when he was still a student which would have been useful when he does business in Brazil. He echoed what Mark Wolters said about the increase in economic importance of other parts of the world; Brazil being now on par with the USA as an agricultural, the volume and quality of exchanges between the two countries. Steve realized that people are friendlier when one is able to demonstrate that one can go beyond being a loud American, who speaks only English. Language facilitates the building of good relations with the local people which is important for doing business. He was often invited to weddings and family reunions and made many friends who became contacts in his subsequent business endeavors.
On the student panel, there were students who studied abroad in various countries around the world like Tanzania, Jordan, Brazil, with one of them also having taught English in South Korea. Issa recounted how her experience studying Arabic shaped what she wants to do in the future. She got a scholarship to go to Morocco for two months and she fell in love with the language and the warmth of the people. She is passionate about learning the language and believes that the language enabled her to see things through a different lens that other people might not have. Arabic provided her a new way to look at world affairs, epically in the Middle East. Issa is going to spend next year in Jerusalem for intensive Arabic language learning. She is interested in doing research on conflicts to examine how a country gets rebuilt, especially post-conflict.
One of the panelists, a fifth year student, highlighted the importance of immersing oneself in the culture for learning the language. She was also glad to see an increase in the number of students from Saudi Arabia with whom she was able to practice her Arabic. She then went to Jordan on a critical language scholarship and realized that she spoke the Saudi dialect, which was not a problem because she mixed her Jordanian dialect with the Saudi dialect she was used to and the rest was just standard Arabic. Her Arabic language skills helped her to navigate her way in France. Despite not being fluent in French, she was able to communicate with the people from the Maghreb such as Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco who live in France.
Another panelist, a graduate student in NRES, grew up in a bilingual household, his mother being from Colombia which helped in the learning of languages. He wants to work in international business so he started learning Portuguese. He already knew Spanish and thought it would be good to have a third language. After his first trip to Brazil, he fell in love with the culture and the country. Agriculture is a huge sector in Brazil He was studying how ethanol is growing as a commodity in Brazil and how it could be exported to the rest of the world. He is now studying algae in waste water treatment, for his master’s program. He has his strictly engineering curriculum but learning language helps him to understand how to translate what he knows and wants to communicate about engineering into how it would be relevant to another culture and country. He will soon be leaving for the University of Sao Paolo for fifteen months, to collaborate with professors there. Learning Portuguese has opened many doors for him and he is expecting a long fruitful career.