When we think about international communication, No. 1 tool for communication is language. Do you study a foreign language? What is the motivation for you to study foreign language? How would you select a foreign language you hope to master?
Number of native English speakers is 4.68% of world population. It is 2nd largest next to Chinese, 13.22%. Among English speaking population, USA is 67.2%, UK 16.9%, Canada 5.8%, Australia 4.5%, others 5.5%. What we could see from these figures are as follows:
1. The portion of English speaking population is unexpectedly small.
2. Among English speaking population, USA shares 2/3 of entire figure.
These figures do not include "English speaking as 2nd language" or "people who uses English as business or public language". Most of Northern European business people, who I met, could speak fluent English. Singapore uses English for education. Indian does, too. We can imagine how difficult to know how many in the world use English for some purpose. Rapid development of Internet accelerated this trend. English is the most commonly used, most influential, and most powerful language in world communication. Language ability of English is essential for business, very useful, and powerful in communication.
English is 2nd language for me, too. I am glad that I studied English. English was the most powerful and useful tool for communication in my field of international business.
But there is a question. Is language the most important pre-requisite in world communication? After 20+ years of international business, and English, I cannot help concluding that there is something that is more important than language.
Second friend of mine is a Singaporean. He visited Japan every year in summer. He was half studying and half working. In one hot morning, he was seated in crowded commuting train in Tokyo. One old Japanese lady stood in front of him. He offered his seat without hesitation. The Japanese old lady thanked him and seated. I was watching them close by. The old Japanese lady was talking to him in Japanese. He was speaking back to her in half English and half Chinese. I do not know how much they could understand each other, but they were enjoying their conversation.
The last and most important friend of mine is an American. He was my boss in my New York days. He is still mentor and 2nd father to me. He is a smart businessperson. Although he could not speak any Japanese, many Japanese staff including myself trusted him, always wanted to talk with him, and listened to his opinion. When I asked him what is his way of communication, he answered that it is simple, he treated his Japanese friends like he treats his American friends. He added he see the difference of behaviors in Japanese, but he stopped being upset. He said he always try to enjoy the difference and admire the same.
Before being a good communicator, we need to be a good person. My boss used to be taught me that.
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