A second language is an asset.
Fluency in more than one language has always been an asset even if you don’t plan to visit another country. This is especially true for the Japanese worker in the field of technology as well as some of the other fields. With the advent of today’s technology employees are coming in direct contact with suppliers, customers and colleagues in foreign lands. When you think of being monolingual, you naturally think about American football. If you are monolingual, your marketable skills in a global job market are limited.
The language you need to learn how to speak clearly and correctly is Standard English. It is believed by some that the Japanese student has a head start when it comes to learning the English vocabulary. The origins of Japanese and English have no relationship. Nevertheless, the Japanese use English words for many imported products, technological terms, names of food, medical terms, and other ideas and concepts. Therefore, when a Japanese student begins to learn English words, he is familiar with many of the words, because he uses them daily.
When learning English for the job market especially the global market, emphasis needs to be placed on the pronunciation, cadence, listening, as well as subject verb agreement. There are many who can read another language but cannot speak it fluently. In other words, you need to ask yourself, if you were in the country of this language, would you be understood. Could you successfully communicate with the natives? If you are really bilingual, you can communicate well enough to be understood.
English in Japan
The Japanese student faces a challenge in the skill of listening due to the unclear sounds that the native English speakers utter. Let’s face it in every country it depends on what part of the country you come from as to what dialect and accent you may use in your speech. Natural English speakers reduce vowel sounds and usually connect words together in their natural speech. For an example a native English speaker may say “whatsup” instead of “what is up”, or if they are from the American south, they may say “ya’all” instead of “you all”. When teaching English, this needs to be explained to the Japanese student, so that the student gets to know the natural way of speaking English. Much of the English language is even hard for the English speakers to explain. The articles, such as “a,” “an,” and “the” are sometimes hard to explain as to usage and are used randomly sometimes by English speakers. This is another big challenge for the use of Standard English.
Did you know that English has more sounds than Japanese? Therefore, Japanese students must realize that there is a difference between these sounds and that if you substitute another sound, you may easily change the meaning of the word. The challenge is to learn how to produce the sounds easily and correctly in conversation, if you are to become an asset to the global job market. More and more employers are asking for workers who can speak good, clear, grammatically correct English. The idea is to be able to communicate in English effectively from anywhere in the world.
It is common for a Japanese speaker with a major in English to come to the United States. However, it does not take long for him to realize that he cannot communicate in English at all. Most of the younger generation of Japanese takes three years of English in junior high school and three years in high school. Instead of putting the emphasis on English grammar and reading, the focus now is on listening, pronunciation, and speaking.
In this global world economy, communication is the key. Yes, it is important and of utmost importance that if you are Japanese, the whole wide world is your job market, if you have good verbal and non verbal English skills. This is true in a wide range of industries and professions such as insurance, transportation, tourism, marketing and sales, technology, the medical profession and you name it. The most important thing about speaking another language is that it allows you to stand in the gap of another culture and serve the world from their vantage point. As companies all over the world realize the need for foreign-language fluency, Japanese job seeker without a good solid English speaking background may soon find themselves left out in the cold.
Today it is impossible to see who the competition is in the job market. The never ending global nature of the jobs today may just mean your competition may be nowhere in sight. Outsourcing has made the job market much more competitive. You can now take a job any where in the world and stay at home. So if you are in Japan you can take a job in another country, but you must have the right marketable skills and good English may just be one of those skills.
Here are some points to consider in the global market today –
• You must have the ability to communicate well
• You must keep abreast of what is going on in the job market. The internet is a wonderful way to increase your education.
• Good behavioral skills and discipline will work miracles in the job market.
• You need a good formal education in a marketable field from a school with that particular specialty.
• Leadership enhancements – you must learn to guide and direct into working teams
Companies nowadays want you to be able to communicate ideas and encourage others to do the same. Competition and globalization are key words today. Doing the same thing today that you did yesterday is evaporating in the global economy. If your world changes, you must be prepared to lead others in a new direction. In other words you are no longer considered bilingual if you can not speak another language and be understood. Change has come and is moving ahead. If you want to be future leaders in a global economy and world, you can ill afford to stagnate. You must also remember that technologies change and you have to move across jobs more frequently and you have to make sure that your skills transfer across jobs. Employers are no longer given an incentive to train workers when there is a possibility that the job may be transferred overseas in a competitive external labor market. It is more important today than it was yesterday to upgrade and keep your skills current over your full career cycle. Enough emphasis cannot be placed on how important it is for you to complete your degree. With a good disciplinary foundation you can then pursue whatever career is of greatest interest to you. Follow your career and balance that with a good foundation in the ability to speak good acceptable English so that you are able to communicate and work effectively in groups and teams.
Don’t let it go to waste
So don’t let your many hard hours of learning English language skills go to waste. It has been estimated that about 90 percent of all local projects professionally translated from Japanese to English are done by native Japanese. The doors are wide opened for you to earn a good living. There are some specialized fields such as patent law, science, copyright law, medical science, and engineering that make maximum use of translators. Let’s remember that it takes more than vocabulary and grammar to turn a good phrase. So the qualified translators are a tiny minority and opportunities abound. You may even decide to translate as a freelancer. Freelancing is the most popular form of translating, however there are those who work through an agencies or combine the freelance work with some agency work. You are offered the stability of a job and it can be an avenue to learn your way around in the beginning. Those who choose to freelance have the highest potential to make a good living. Let’s look at other ways you can use those English skills in the global job market.
Outsourcing has become a household word. Every other industry has become affected one way or another by the process of outsourcing. With the eradication of distance via use of the internet and advances in technology, especially the communications system, everybody seems to be living right across the street instead of across the ocean. That is why the ability to communicate in as many different languages as possible is so important. The ability to communicate in English is the number one marketable skill, after training, in the job market. You no longer have to live in the city, state, or country where you work. All you need is a way to communicate by using some form of today’s modern and advance technology.
Your wages are not predicated on your job title but on your skills and the amount of time you have invested to enhance those skills. In a global economy, your ability to trade goods and services, allows you to relegate your skills and capital into productivity. As a group of people you have always known that there are two ways for you to get things in life. The first way is to do things for you. The second is to allow someone else to do things for you and then trade. This philosophy gave birth to outsourcing. If you can get someone to do something cheaper than you can do it, then outsource. Japanese, along with others, benefit by the outsourcing of jobs, goods, and services. This is one way wealth is created in addition to the jobs, goods, and services.
The outsourcing of call/service centers, manufacturing of cars, video games, flat panel computer displays, clothes, and other goods and services, have produced many jobs for Japanese with marketable skills and fluency in English communication. On the other hand, outsourcing has provided cheaper goods and services for people all across the world. Therefore, outsourcing has become a win win situation for all.