Language Advantage
June 17, 2020

6 Reasons Why Mining Professionals Should Learn a Foreign Language


mining communication

Learning a new language is always a good idea, no matter the purpose. In fact, besides improving your communication abilities, it can also develop your memory, problem-solving skills, creativity, and sense of self-worth. Yet, there are some profiles and industries that benefit even more from learning a new language. One great example is the mining sector.

Due to globalization, learning a foreign language has become increasingly important, especially in a sector like mining, which is considered pivotal to the world’s economy. Nowadays, companies that have traditionally been national champions are globalizing, while start-up companies are investing in outskirts locations spread around the world. Considering all the international programs, partnerships, and investments that define the industry, there’s no denying that mining professionals should invest in improving their language skills. Here are 6 good reasons why:

1. Doing business

Learning a foreign language upgrades your network and increases your business opportunities. And if you’re in the metals and mining sector, this is even more important. Considering that this industry covers immensely different countries such as China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, or Brazil, having some knowledge of the local languages is a great advantage when it comes to conducting business.

2. Celebrating diversity

Mining companies are known for being quite international. In fact, it is common to find corporations with employees from (or located in) different regions and countries. Considering that, being able to communicate in the local language will make it easier for you to connect and progress with your employees and partners. For global companies, the best way to deal with diversity is by celebrating it and being inclusive!

3. Sharing knowledge

Imagine that you’re invited to conduct a conference or an international symposium in Brazil. How great would it be to communicate in Portuguese with your industry peers? It’s a fact: managing other languages makes you seem more experienced, skilled, and competent, especially in the professional world.
On the other hand, it also facilitates your understanding when you are in a learning position. If you’re in a meeting in México, recognizing the mining terminology used in the country will facilitate the overall communication and decision-making processes.

4. Sharpening relationships

In a study* conducted by McGill University, it was determined that people are more prompt to make trust-related decisions with someone who speaks the same language and, if possible, with a similar accent. Many believe that speaking English, the international business language, is enough to go by in the mining industry, but this isn’t necessarily true. 75% of the world population doesn’t speak English, which means that basing all operations and communications in a single language can actually have a negative impact on interpersonal relations, trust, and workplace culture.

5. Understanding the culture

Language learning is not just about the ease of communication: it also means understanding a new culture. When you’re conducting business in another country, it is crucial to acknowledge how the workplace culture operates in there. Mining companies often operate in areas where people have had limited exposure to foreign business cultures and proposing a mining exploration program in Africa is significantly different than proposing it in China, and you must recognize those differences. After all, insensitivity and misunderstandings can have a huge impact on your company’s reputation.

6. Saving time and money

The role of language has become central for efficiency in communication, especially in businesses that operate globally. Many companies trust translators and interpreters to help them in their operations, but, in the long-term, it is significantly more effective to invest in learning the required languages. Mediated communication is only so effective in building strong relationships. Therefore, and given that almost every mining company works with multicultural teams and in multinational projects, investing in learning a language will save a lot of time and money in the long run.

How to start?

Learning a foreign language can be difficult and time-consuming, but the benefits are well worth it, especially in an international industry like mining. At Language Advantage, we focus on creating personalized programs, where you enhance your language skills, learn about other work cultures, and become an expert in your industry terminology. Whether you need to learn Spanish, practice Russian, or understand how businesses are conducted in Canada, our team of language experts is here to help you. If you want to know more or ask for a quote, don’t hesitate to contact us!

*McGill University

Learning a new language means acquiring a new culture and mindset; once you are comfortable with these new language skills, they open doors into a more welcoming and interactive environment

~ Lizbeth Toscano, IAMGOLD, Language Advantage client since 2017

Read more about how IAMGOLD is saving time and benefiting from French language training.

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