The Role of English In Omani Business

Introduction

It is clear that English is currently a global business language (Al-Bakri (2013). In this regard, various multinational companies opt to mandate English as a single corporate language, in order to facilitate communication, as well as facilitate effective performance across business endeavors, and also across various geographically diverse functions. There are various advantages, as well as disadvantages of using English as the single language of business in Oman (Cogo & Yanaprasart, 2018). As such, this essay argues that making English a single language for business in Oman has more advantages, compared to disadvantages.

English has played a major role in enabling communication within Oman for 200 years. The extreme state of dependency in Oman made it possible for the British to exert both economic and political control of the Omani regime. During the pre-colonial and post-colonial periods, the Omani established equitable business relations with the British and as such, Oman was able to expand its territory and flourished in both slavery and ivory trading. During Omani’s time, being an informal colony of the British, English was used by the British in their communication with the Omani people, and as such, the Omanis had to learn how to speak effectively in English, in order to facilitate their trade with the British (Ku & Zussman, 2010). Omani is a developing country, which values English as a significant international language, which also acts as a tool in achieving multiple purposes. The Sultan (His Majesty) rose to power, precisely in the year 1970, he mandated that the government accept English as an official foreign language. As such, he allocated huge budgets, as well as resources for the implementation of English through education in universities and business colleges. The Omani government has since then revolutionized the English language system by adopting a reform plan, which covers all the shortcomings that may be experienced in this course (Al-Issa, 2015). In line with this, there is an expectation that employees use English in multi-national business. As such, these companies need employees who have better English skills, to be able to relate effectively with foreign clients and suppliers, who in most instances, use English as their first ore even second language. This thereby aids in developing a long-lasting relationship between the multinational companies and the suppliers and clients (Chidlow et al., 2014).

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The advantages associated with adopting English as a single language for business in Oman include the following. The first advantage is that it is an effective language of communication across most cultures. For example, if employees in a multinational company speak confidently, there might be a likelihood that they have studied or even experienced the culture of English to a given extent. As such, it is clear that the cultural understanding can be valuable, especially for multinational companies that purpose to interact with (work with or even sell to) English speaking countries (Al-Issa, 2014). Secondly, English language enables the development of a long-term relationship with most business partners. Significantly, effective skills in English allows multinational companies to communicate effectively with various international clients, thereby, aiding in the development of trust, which consequently results in stronger and lasting relationships with them. Additionally, using English at work on a daily basis aids in the accomplishment of significant purposes such as meetings, writing of reports, as well as giving presentations among others (Daly & Davy, 2018; cited in Rogerson-Revell, 2007). Thirdly, English enables easy access to various business-based research documents. Most of business-based research journals and books and even 50% of internet pages are written in English, thereby, implying that books, journals, and online information are accessible for individuals who are able to read English. Accessing much more information related to business can make a great difference in a multinational company, even if the company does not deal with clients who understand and speak English. For example, an article document on the internet may assist a multinational company to understand the basics of a project better and also purpose to provide significant information that may be used in a report (Bhatia, 2014). Finally, it enables easy communication with potential investors. It is evident that the only way that a company can enhance the growth of its company is by adopting an English, one-language policy in aggressively globalizing its business. In this regard, the company will be able to meet potential investors from other countries, outside the company, but in Oman and even within the company. As such, it is necessary that multinational companies purpose to accelerate their plans related to globalization whilst emphasizing on the adoption of English language, in order to attract investors (Al-Issa, 2014).

On the other hand, using English language as a single language for business in Oman has disadvantages. This is because it may bring forth misunderstanding in communication. Owing to the fact that there is much interconnectedness in the world, multinational company employees may fall into the trap of having to assume that people operate in a similar manner regardless of their places of work or where they live. It is evident that globalization has a great impact of bringing people together, with an aim of spreading ideas across different cultures in the global populations. However, it is worth noting that linguistic as well as cultural norms are still dominating, especially in forming financial cross-border businesses and relationships. This then brings forth miscommunications, which may then lower the performance of these companies (Kirkpatrick, 2010). Moreover, it is evident that English language erodes self-confidence in non-native English speakers (employees), who may be pushed to adopt English language in their communication. They might feel that their value to their organization is diminished, irrespective of their level of fluency. In this regard, it is clear that Employees who face a one-language policy have the worry that their companies offer best jobs to other employees having stronger English skills, irrespective of the content expertise. Usually, these feelings are common especially when multi-national companies merely announce their new policies, as well as other language classes, instead of opting to implement such shifts in a more systematic way. This then makes employees to underestimate their abilities and also overestimate the challenge that comes by developing a sufficient fluency. The outcome of this is that their performance in the company is lowered, which consequently lowers the performance of the company (Pennycook, 2017; cited in Rogerson-Revell, 2007).

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Conclusion

Although the English language has some negative effects, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. In this regard, more and more multinational companies in Oman are opting to mandate English as the common corporate language. This is in order to enhance the performance of these organizations by facilitating communication, as well as facilitating effective performance across business endeavors, and also across various geographically diverse functions. However, the disadvantages are that it may bring forth misunderstanding in communication, and may as well erode self-confidence in non-native English speakers (employees), who may be pushed to adopt English language in their communication.

References

  • Al-Bakri, S. (2013). Problematizing English medium instruction in Oman. International Journal of Bilingual and Monolingual teachers of English, 2, 55-69
  • Al-Issa, A. S. (2014). Researching the uses of the english language in the law job market in the sultanate of oman: implications for policy-practice improvement. Educational Research for Policy and Practice, 13(1), 25-44.
  • Al-Issa, A. S. (2015). Making a case for new directions in English language teaching research at an Omani university: A critical qualitative content analysis report. The Qualitative Report, 20(5), 560-595.
  • Chidlow, A., Plakoyiannaki, E., & Welch, C. (2014). Translation in cross-language international business research: Beyond equivalence. Journal of International Business Studies, 45(5), 562-582.
  • Cogo, A., & Yanaprasart, P. (2018). English is the language of business: An exploration of language ideologies in two European corporate contexts. English in Business and Commerce: Interactions and Policies; English in Europe, 5, 96.
  • Daly, P., & Davy, D. (2018). Language boundary-crossing by business school faculty using English as a medium of instruction. European Journal of International Management, 12(1-2), 62-81
  • Kirkpatrick, A. (Ed.). (2010). The Routledge handbook of world Englishes. Routledge.
  • Ku, H., & Zussman, A. (2010). Lingua franca: The role of English in international trade. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 75(2), 250-260.
  • Pennycook, A. (2017). The cultural politics of English as an international language. Routledge.
  • Rogerson-Revell, P. (2007). Using English for international business: A European case study. English for specific purposes, 26(1), 103-120.

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