Research & Thought Leadership

Why English is the language of innovation

Peter Burman

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A brilliant idea is a brilliant idea. No matter if it’s expressed in English, Spanish, Arabic or Mandarin. However, in today’s globalized world, if you want to expose more people to your ideas, you need to communicate them across borders in one common language: English.

English is a widely spoken language. According to the World Economic Forum, an estimated 1.5 billion people around the world speak English – with 360 million as their native tongue. It’s no coincidence that the language has been spread around the world throughout the past 400 years alongside with global businesses, becoming the official language of international organizations.

With the unprecedented exchange of information and ideas across borders, today’s professionals need to stay abreast of international best practice, and they need English to have access to information. We cannot afford to miss out on global innovation because of language barriers. For companies, a culture of English proficiency makes it possible to tap into pools of talent and expertise that would have been out of reach just a few years ago.

Effective communication as a driver of innovation

Think about the websites or the idea sharing platforms that you frequently visit. The latest research report you read; the last TED talk you listened to. Were they in English or in another language? You will probably realize that most of the websites you frequently visit are in English. So much that in fact, more than half the 10 million most visited websites on the internet are written in this one common language.

Besides, some of the world’s most influential technology companies are American, and most of all the commonly used programming languages are based on English vocabulary. As a result, poor English proficiency makes it difficult for employees, no matter where they are from, to access key resources in their fields.

Our recent research shows that in an increasingly globalized and fast-moving business world, companies with higher revenue growth are more likely than their competitors to be innovative. These successful and innovative companies are also more likely to support their employees’ development with an English language training program. We call these companies “Global Fluency Leaders”.

These Global Fluency Leaders outshine their competitors on a range of performance indicators. They cut recruitment costs by increasing employee engagement and retention through training programs. They are able to break into new markets with a linguistically mobile and culturally aware workforce. And, with increased speed and accuracy of communication through higher language skills, they work more efficiently, grow faster and are more innovative.

Innovation comes from cross-functional teams that exchange ideas with one another through effective communication and operate efficiently at a global scale.

Effective communication is a top priority for the world’s fastest-growing markets that are at the forefront of innovation. These organizations understand that English proficiency and innovation go hand-in-hand.

English connects employees, individuals, and businesses around the world, providing a pathway for innovation. What if language barriers stood in the way of these innovative companies? Would they be where they are at now?

At EF, we believe that strong and sustained revenue growth relies on cutting edge technologies and innovation as well as effective communication, leadership and a highly engaged workforce. We harness new technologies to make education more relevant and immersive. Investing heavily into research and development to ensure we can provide the most effective learning experience for our students, whether it’s using smart notifications to remind and motivate students to work towards their study goals or building the next generation of learning tools.

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