Stuck for ideas for a winning degree? Try Language WITH Business!Tuesday, August 11, 2015 12:00 AM
As part of the #backingsoftskills campaign -endorsed by Dragons Den’s James Caan-, a recent report (www.backingsoftskills.co.uk) found that soft skills - including strong communication skills - are worth over £88 billion Gross Value Added to the UK economy each year. But this sum - or at least a high proportion of it - is at risk because recent graduates often do not have the appropriate communication skills to fill a high number of vacancies. The figure below (from gov.uk) shows that the lack of spoken and written communication skills feature on the top of the skills shortage list on the current job market.
It should not come as a surprise, though, that excellent communication and language skills are now crucial to business success. Language intertwines and affects the day-to-day running of any organization, from social media to marketing and advertising, from contracts to technical documents, from everyday discussions to formal meetings, sales calls or presentations.
So why is language so important?
Because even seemingly simple linguistic choices - the choice of words, the grammar of sentences - can change what we believe is true. Using a famous linguist’s analogy (Guy cook) the language we use is similar to the glass in the window. It allows us to see the world - and reality - through it. For most it does not get in the way of our attention, we look through it and do not question its existence or influence.
Caption: Where does the window end and reality begin?
Language - similarly to the windowpane - is a transparent medium. People think that its main role and function is merely to convey information about the reality. When people communicate, they tend to focus on this information, rather than how it is presented through linguistic choices. Language, the medium that transfers the content goes unnoticed. But similarly to the glass sheet between us and the world, language does exist: it can blur, distort or block out, or sugarcoat what we see as reality.
A qualification in linguistics combined WITH business will allow you to zoom in on this “windowpane” - to understand and use the power of language. The combined honors of Linguistics and Business will equip you with the knowledge to turn language into a competitive weapon in international business: you will be able to analyse and practice effective language use in a range of situations, from internal communication scenarios, such as motivational leadership, conflict management or intercultural misunderstandings, to external and corporate communication efforts, marketing, customer service and brand and reputation management.
It will also broaden your horizons in ways you didn’t know was possible. As one of my previous students commented: “Looking at business through the lens of language challenges the conventional ways of viewing things. This approach has brought so much insight into the way in which companies attract customers through the use of language. It’s amazing to realise that there is a reason behind every message”
If you would like to explore the Business Management and English language combined honors at Aston, you can visit the official website (www.aston.ac.uk), our blog (http://businessandenglish.astonblogs.co.uk). You can also follow us on Twitter: @bmelaston