What’s one of the biggest worries people have when traveling?
Hint: It stops more than 30% of travelers from embracing new and different destinations and accommodations.
Booking.com surveyed 20,500 global travelers about various travel topics, including travel ambitions, trip planning habits and biggest fears. Nearly 30% of the people surveyed agreed that one of their biggest worries while traveling was the language barrier, and that this communication worry can even stop them from booking unknown accommodations or a vacation in an exotic locale.
When asked what would remove those travel anxieties, one in five said that language skills would make the difference. If they were sure they would be able to ask questions at their hotel or order their favorite foods, aspiring travelers claimed they’d be more likely to book a new destination.
In January 1990, Avianca Flight 52 from Bogota, Colombia, to New York City, was running out of fuel on approach to John F. Kennedy International Airport.
Due to weather conditions, the aircraft was kept in a holding pattern prior to landing, even though its fuel situation was critical. The flight crew communicated the situation to the ground crew, but according to reports, they failed to use correct terminology to describe the situation. They did not, for example, use the word “emergency.” Unfortunately, air traffic control underestimated the seriousness of the situation, and the Boeing 707 aircraft crashed into a residential area on Long Island, killing 73 of the 158 people on board.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined the crash occurred partly from the flight crew’s failure to properly communicate a fuel emergency.
The number of foreign language speakers in the United States has increased an impressive 90% since 1990. There are 38.4 million Spanish speakers reported in the US. The next most common language is Chinese, with 3 million speakers, followed by 1.6 million Tagalog speakers, 1.4 million Vietnamese speakers and 1.3 million French speakers. These populations translate into a new challenge for healthcare professionals and organizations across the nation.
How well does one need to be able to speak a language to use that language effectively and appropriately in the workplace? What language tasks does that individual need to accomplish successfully? How accurate must one’s language be to be acceptable in the work context? The simple answer – it depends upon the job.
In a global workplace, employers can no longer depend on the self-reporting of language skills when determining if a potential hire has sufficient communication skills in the language for success in the workplace. Continue reading