It is evident that there are companies in the UK who take on British linguists which is fantastic to see as we have the opportunity to put the languages that we spent years learning to good use. However, it is still visible that British linguists are being turned down for not being a native speaker when a native speaker isn't always 100% necessary. This may be because companies think they are playing it safe, don't trust British linguists or just don't have the staff to test the languages during the employment process.
Recently several of my friends who studied languages at university have given up on the UK altogether and have now moved abroad. This was the result of being turned down for not being a native speaker before being given a chance to prove that they were capable of speaking the languages. So before companies make negative assumptions and rule out British linguists altogether, here are 10 reasons why companies should hire British linguists as well as native speakers.
Whilst living abroad it was clear to see that by the shock on locals faces that I spoke their language despite being British just said it all. 'You're British and you speak fluent Spanish! How? I have never heard a British person speak Spanish before. Congratulations!!'.One Frenchman went as far as shaking my sister's hand when she spoke French. Wherever I go in France, Spain and Italy people are still shocked that I can speak their language which shows that people abroad still think that British people don't speak languages full stop. Hiring British linguists will spread awareness that we are capable of speaking foreign languages and take interest in cultures rather than just our own and will in turn help to eliminate this negative attitude towards us.
When British linguists apply to language jobs it is because we want to use our language skills after having spent years perfecting them and don't just take an interest in the language but in the people and culture too. Some native speakers will apply as they believe that they will have more chance to obtain the job due to being a native speaker. Some companies will hire native speakers just for being a native speaker and don't always consider other benefits they could bring to the table which is not the way forward. British linguists are eager to use their languages and this love for the language and culture shines through having a positive effect when in touch with customers abroad. I loved talking to my Spanish customers so much that when I went to Spain on holiday, I went to say hello to some of them in Madrid and Puerto Banus.
Time and time again I have met many native speakers who have wanted to meet up with me so that we could do a language swap as they couldn't practise English at work as the company they were working for only took on native speakers. Some of them had been living in England for two years or even longer and had no English speaking friends at all as they only went out with their colleagues when not at work.
Some of my ex colleagues who were native speakers invited me out to events with other native speakers which I still go to now which is fantastic. I appreciate being able to mix with people from other nationalities in my home city. If companies employ solely native speakers integration will be discouraged within society, a worrying consequence that may not have even been considered when choosing to employ solely native speakers.
From my five years work experience I have seen that customers abroad really appreciate that you can speak their language and take an interest in their country and culture. They are also shocked that despite being British you have made an effort to learn their language which goes a long way and they really do respect you for that. You will find that customers abroad also take an interest in British culture too which helps break down the barrier between customer and client and helps turn them into friends.
Just because somebody is a native speaker doesn't mean that mistakes aren't made. I have noticed endless mistakes in written French by native French speakers more so than other nationalities. This does not look professional in the business environment and correcting this for them can prevent embarrassing mistakes from being made. Many roles requiring language skills may not require the foreign language 100% of the time meaning that a high level of English is also required. British linguists can also help native speakers as they sometimes have difficulty with pronunciation as English is not spoken as it is written.
Several of my colleagues who didn't speak a foreign language in previous workplaces heard me speaking the languages and were very impressed. They had never met a British person who was able to speak foreign languages before. Some didn't consider it possible for a British person to speak foreign languages as even after two years some colleagues still thought that I was French or Spanish. Some took an overwhelming interest, repeated things I said and some actually started learning a language themselves! It sends off a positive can do attitude and more people tell themselves that if another British person can speak languages then so can I!
This can be very beneficial in a work place when employees voluntarily choose to learn a language as it can benefit the company as languages may be required in another role or in my case one colleague attempted to write and even speak to the Italian customers whilst I was on holiday.
Once you have learnt a couple of foreign languages learning other skills becomes easier. I studied accelerated beginners Italian at university which was a full on course and was expected to be almost fluent just after one year. My first role was in IT and found myself resolving technical issues within just a few days and my second role in credit control I had to quickly learn about different financial systems. As some British linguists will have studied solely languages including myself it will be necessary to learn new skills and vocabulary quickly on the job. Learning a language is a constant learning process as it includes grammar, translation, speaking, writing, listening, interpreting, historical facts and many other skills so learning new skills doesn't worry us as it is something we are very used to.
You will find that many British linguists have lived abroad and their close circle of friends includes people from many countries so settling into a multicultural team in the workplace is something that can easily be done. Living abroad was an eye opener for us as we moved abroad without knowing anybody and had to make an effort to make friends with the local people. It is second nature to us and allowed us to become more accepting of people from other countries which will be beneficial whilst working within a multicultural team in the workplace.
We still remain in the dark regarding Brexit as there are many uncertainties. These uncertainties have and may encourage more native speakers to go back to their home countries just like we have seen within the NHS. Those companies who are hiring solely native speakers may see a high staff turnover during this time. This is why companies must hire British linguists as well as native speakers to give them a leg to stand on if laws were to change.
If more companies take on British linguists there will be more opportunities which will prevent us from giving up our languages altogether or moving to another country. British linguists must realise that there are opportunities for them with languages and need to be reassured that they will not be punished for being British.
Before companies rule out British linguists altogether they need to think carefully about their choice and must give us a chance. Test our languages before making assumptions and ruling us out completely. I can assure that after our four year slog at university we can say a lot more than Bonjour and can easily pick up new vocabulary and skills required on the job.
If more companies take on British linguists fewer will give up their languages/leave the UK, more will be encouraged to learn languages, native speakers will be able to integrate properly within British society and can improve their English, British linguists can improve their language skills plus many other benefits. It's a win win situation for the British linguist, the native speaker and the company so surely it's a no brainer when it comes to hiring British linguists? Believe in British linguists and give us a chance.