Notes: International Trade & Investment Specialist
My name is Ian Ross, I am an international trade and investment specialist working with Scottish Development International. I have a geography responsibility for China and India.
I advise Oil and Gas supply chain companies on best practice for entry into new markets especially China and India.
I also am an inward investment specialist who ensures that companies from outwith Scotland registrar, hire people and begin to trade as smoothly as possible when they set up here.
What languages have you learned?
I have kept up my Spanish from school for holidays and have recently completed an intense Mandarin course. I am planning to do an intense Japanese course over the winter as I aim to go to the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
How have any language skills helped you in your work?
I visit China at least once per year and host at least 4 Chinese companies who visit Scotland. I find that general welcoming introductions and gratifications in Mandarin are very well received in meetings and at dinners.
What benefits do you think language skills bring?
Conversing with Chinese in English can be difficult, frequently things get lost in translation. When you learn Mandarin there is a cultural understanding that comes with the learning that makes overall translation easier. Chinese people appreciate that you put the effort into learning about their country. This can take the stress out of business transactions and make selling more efficient.
Do you have any advice for anyone considering learning a language?
Learning a language needs perseverance, commitment in time and effort and continual practice in listening and verbalising. There are many resources on the internet and value for money online tutoring, ie italki.com. It is good to sign up for 90 day language challenges if self-motivation is not enough. Language immersion is key, so watching films, listening to music and talking to native speakers every day is important to pick out individual words until you are in tune with the speed of delivery.
Any tips on how best to approach communicating in a language you have little knowledge of?
Try to find and learn words that are close to English and build sentences around them.
Develop a script around who you are, what you do, where you are from and why you are learning a language.
Also learn some key questions along with please and thank you.
In your experience, would you say cultural awareness is important?
Cultural awareness must be developed in parallel with language learning. Never believe that our humour or manners translate well. To start with understanding how foreigners are perceived will give you good place to start.
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