Languages are our business

Young people in our schools need to recognise the important employability skills which they acquire when learning a new language. As well as the abilities to work in another language and compete in a global marketplace where many people speak English as well as one or more other languages, there are many transferable skills gained.

Colleagues at British Council have pulled together a great range of case studies of people who use languages in the workplace; including at GCHQ. You can view these here :

At a recent languages and employability event, Fran Boyd-Hill who works for INEOS explained her languages journey and her current role:!AvX7eGSkwoC6lX5NdEsnsLHS8qfs?e=IjqYfx

There are also a few more links below which will be of interest to schools:

This is the TV advert for the sanitising products –

This video is actually in French and it explains INEOS’ efforts to fight against the Coronavirus in France last Spring – Dave Brailsford also actually speaks in French towards the end – there are no subtitles and is suitable for older children.

Four business ambassadors shared their language journeys with over 200 pupils from nine regional secondary schools today. Explaining how they use French, German, Spanish and Italian in a range of industry settings was a powerful message to the region’s learners.

We heard how an engineer used his skills both in Germany and in developing pharmaceutical plant development, how a company making hand sanitiser in County Durham needs to liaise with clients across the world and how recycled industrial processing equipment has a world market with clients expecting the supplier to engage with them in their language. We learned how it is important to understand markets by analysing media in different languages and how language skills unlock business opportunities for local companies.

Language skills make you stand out from the crowd

The message from our industry leaders was that people with language skills, at all levels, stand out from the crowd. A qualification in a different language shows employers that you have something special to offer an that you are an articulate and confident individual with excellent problem solving and critical thinking skills and someone who is sensitive to cultural difference. Learning one language is often a springboard to another and that listening skills help learners to master multiple languages.

Pupils posed questions about which language was important and the response was that all languages are important to business.

We live and work in a global marketplace with clients expecting that their partners will use their language to do business. To succeed in the 21st century business world requires companies to be mindful of opportunities all across the world and the need for speakers of other languages has never been more relevant.

Brian Stobie, International Durham

Meet the business ambassadors

Julie Morris-Davison: I graduated in French and German and International Marketing at Northumbria University and spent 7 years living and working in Germany before returning to the North East in 2006. I currently work as a Sales Manager with a company called Perry Process Equipment Ltd which is based in Newton Aycliffe, Co Durham.

Perry Process buy and sell high quality used process equipment to the chemical, pharmaceutical, food, plastics & rubber, paper and sugar processing industries.  The company was established in 1932 in America and we now have offices in the UK, Poland and Czech Republic as well as representatives in Russia and the Ukraine.  We buy and sell a wide range of high quality used process plant and equipment such as mixers, dryers, reactors, heat exchangers, centrifuges, filters, filter presses, tanks & vessels.  I am primarily responsible for looking after our clients in German and French speaking countries although I also look after a proportion of the UK and rest of the world, excluding the Americas, which is handled by our Head Office in New Jersey, USA.

My role involves dealing with customer enquiries on a daily basis, researching the market for new clients, actively promoting equipment to our extensive customer database and listing equipment on our inventory database.  Prior to the start of the Covid-19 pandemic I also made regular customer visits and attended European exhibitions!

Mike Battrum has worked as a Chemical Engineer designing and building Pharmaceutical factories for over thirty years. This included a four year period living and working in Germany for BASF. Germany is a centre of excellence for technology and innovation in Engineering. Mike’s fluency in the German language has enabled him to learn and make use of German technology through collaborative research and Engineering conferences. He has also purchased many items of equipment and his ability to review technical specifications in German and speak to German Engineers has been of significant benefit during procurement.

Debra Smurthwaite: I have just started a new job this week as an Administrative Officer for a tutoring company called the National Learning Group. I was successful in getting this job partly due to my background in teaching German and French and also due to my translating experience.

Before starting in my current role, I worked as a translator for a data analytics company called Nielsen. It is an American company in more than 100 countries around the world and it provides clients the most accurate understanding of what consumers watch and buy. To discover what audiences love, it measures across all channels and platforms – from podcasts to streaming TV to social media. I translated from German into English for Nielsen’s clients across TV, print, radio adverts and social media. I worked as part of an international team and liaised within the company to ensure quality and consistency in German and French translations.

We have uploaded some excellent youtube videos to our youtube channel playlist at

Working with partners at Durham University and the Association for Language Learning, we have produced a number of resources to make the case for language learning in schools.

crossword snip

The poster can be downloaded here Language skills poster

We also worked with some of Durham University’s graduates to track job destinations and produced 5 colourful posters which are here :

Louis Vuitton

Languages are our business posters

The poster series also prompted an A5 booklet which is ideal for those considering options.

new booklet

Languages are our Business booklet

The computer games designer, UBISOFT, has its customer relationship centre in Newcastle. Staff here speak many different languages to be able to respond to enquireies from across the world. We shot a short video in French to show how languages are used in our region in the gaming industry.

The video ends with the message that languages are an advantage for life in 12 languages.