English at work in Berlin
Elizabeth J. Erling and Alan Walton
English Today. The International Review of the English Language. Volume 23. Number 1. January 2007. – p. 32 – 39 and p. 64.
In their article “English at work in Berlin”, Elizabeth J. Erling and Alan Walton give an overview of a report on a survey of the importance of the English language in international companies located in Germany.
Erling and Walton start by giving a short introduction about the change of use of the English language in German companies. The authors see the reason for the change in the progressive globalization: “[…] In a country where transnational corporations increase in number and power, where the technologies for information exchange are developing rapidly, where a supra-state appears to be evolving, there is also growing pressure to communicate across national boundaries, to be part of a larger community of communication than the national.” (p. 32). In accordance with this, there is no possibility to make an international career without special skills in English, because English has become the most commonly used language in large companies in Germany such as Daimler Chrysler, Deutsche Bank and Siemens.
In Berlin a project is being carried out by students of economics and business administration and their lecturers of a Business English course at a university. This project is supposed to give information about the use of English in certain large companies in Germany and also to document the circumstance that English is no longer only a foreign language but an additional or also second language.
The project was carried out as follows: It took place in the years of 2001 and 2007. Students of two Business English courses undertook projects whose goal it was to analyse the use of English in companies of their choice. The project was made use of a questionnaire which the students had to design on their own. All the necessary information was collected by the students from the websites of the companies. In the process, the students established four aims they wanted to fulfil: At first the students focussed on which foreign languages - especially with regard to English - are used in German companies. Secondly they wanted to discover how widely the use of English effects German employees. Thirdly they wanted to pinpoint problems which can come up by only using English and fourthly they wanted to establish which other languages may also become important for companies in the future.