The Multilingual Experiment: Take Two

Businesses Can “Learn” Languages Just like People, and the Benefits Are Similar

Eight years ago, I was confronted with a harsh realization: To graduate college, I would need to take several semesters of a foreign language. Eep. It had been four years since I last took Spanish courses in high school, and at least five years since I had mentally checked out of the process. No bueno.

To resume my Spanish studies would mean a mandatory placement exam to assess my current level of knowledge. No thanks. Too many exams already. I wanted to start at the very beginning with easy words so I could concentrate on getting accepted to the journalism school. After minimal research, I chose Italian—it, of course, being the closest thing to Spanish.

Give international markets a locally-authentic experience. To make a (delicious) analogy: Italians want authentic Neopolitan, not take-out deep dish.

And so I began my studies d’Italiano. Unenthusiastically. But a funny thing happened: I started to enjoy the experience. My teacher was pretty cool. She being from il bel paese, dressed stylishly and almost exclusively in black. The classmates were pretty cool, many with a distinctly Southern American drawl to their pronunciation (Che ora è, ya’ll?). And the language – ITALIANO! – it’s the prettiest in the world. The song-like cadence, the history, the poetry, and how easily it lends itself to dramatic gesticulations.

After three semesters, I was by no means fluent, but I could converse quite well. I hoped to take my solid foundation and gradually build towards fluency after graduation. But… it didn’t work out that way. In the hustle and bustle of the real, working world, my handle of the language faded like an old photograph.

Being a wistful rube, I now find myself going through the proverbial box of photos with a very real twinge of nostalgia. I’m about two weeks into an immersion software program for Italian. It’s going pretty well so far. I’m surprised at how much I’ve retained from school and how much fun I’m having interacting essentially only with my laptop. I’m seeking out some language and culture exchange pen pals. It’ll be a long process, but probably an enjoyable one, and one that I hope to see through.

Languages enrich us and give us perspective. They open us up to opportunities. They connect us. These are things I’ve learned working at GM Voices, a provider of professionally-recorded voice in over 100 languages and dialects. It’s not just a personal benefit. For organizations, especially U.S. based companies, doing languages correctly—fluently, properly translated, localized—all of this still applies. It improves customer relationships, creates greater understanding, and opens the door to exciting revenue possibilities.

So, what is your company doing to “learn a language?” What are your long-term expansion goals? Do they include new language markets? If and when you’re ready to take the leap, contact GM Voices to ensure your message reaches its audience with local market credibility. From IVR voice prompt messaging to dubbing/subtitling marketing videos to business narration, we’re your voice to the world for all things languages. Va bene!

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