It may seem quite amazing to some, but there still are many people around the world who cannot speak English very well, and quite enough of those who cannot speak English at all. While it is obvious that for certain professions and businesses, especially those serving the local customers, this is not a big problem, I honestly find it quite striking. Perhaps, the main reason behind this phenomenon is no real motivation, in terms of everyday need, for the people to change that fact and do something about it. Otherwise very intelligent and skilled in their own professional lives, these people are losing out on what the knowledge of this rich and wonderful language has to offer both for their work and personal benefit. Need for work, access to information and personal self-esteem could serve as three examples of many areas of motivation for learning the English language.
As I have already mentioned, most people conducting their business do so within their local community or region and thus they do not feel an immediate need to use the English language as the means of communication. Their customers use their native language, too, and so there is no (or very little) motivation to learn English. However, if one thinks about the business in a broader sense, e.g. communication with your suppliers from abroad, the need for English is suddenly very obvious. This obstacle can be usually overcome with some basic knowledge of the generally used expressions, especially if dealing with countries where the overall level of English knowledge is quite basic and used in simple way. But whether you decide to grow your business or you happen to meet a potential business partner, whose level of English is very good, you do not want to be the one feeling uncomfortably due to you inability to communicate with ease. Furthermore, if this potential customer of yours refers you to their website for more information on their line of products or services, you are now in need of knowing the English language to some extent. The same applies for any other profession, which, I agree, you might exercise locally, yet if you need to acquire some new information concerning your field of interest, it is far more easier to obtain it in English.
This ability to access the information is far more important than many people realise. While it may be true that most information concerning your various interests are provided in your native language, it is beyond any doubt that most up-to-date and broad based knowledge can be accessed through the English language, not because it is English, but because it is the world language. That fact alone is sufficient to motivate you to learn it at least to some degree.
Yes, I am fully aware of the technological leap in this respect, namely that to read an English text it is now possible simply to turn on an online translator and get along that way, but if we disregard for the sake of the argument the fact that the online translators are good, but not perfect and they might screw up on some piece of information, which just happens to be relevant to you, if we ignore this point and accept the online translators as a valid solution to your not knowing the English language, there still is something, which I like to put a lot of emphasis on when motivating my students: if you need to check on the information provided in English frequently or daily, you might as well learn it.
So if you have the choice of learning the language to read about something or having that something translated to you, what is the difference? Well, to learn it, you need to do some work, and it is this effort of yours, which, in my opinion, counts the most. This feeling of achievement and victory you would feel, if you went from “I know nothing” to “I can read and speak”. This aspect of learning (anything) is so momentous, that we cannot stress enough the importance of it. Not only do you do something for your language skill and ability to communicate in a hitherto unknown language, but most importantly, you permanently add to your self-esteem, your self-improvement as a human being.
If you happen to understand everything written in this article, you, as a student, have crossed the Rubicon and possess that level of English which is necessary for connecting with the world, and which enables you to further self-educate not only in the English language, but more importantly through it! Whether you need it for work or extending of your knowledge in any area of your choice, you have the worst behind you. And although there are still many things to learn, you have achieved something which many people are only trying to, you learnt the language of the world and it was you who did it.
Now go and motivate them all!