Cross-cultural working

Regent’s Lecturer comments on the value of languages and culture intelligence for future graduates

For graduates seeking to break into the workforce, learning languages and developing cross-cultural understanding can make you highly marketable in the future and aid in long-term job satisfaction while working abroad. 

Robert Johnson, Senior Lecturer in Cross-Cultural Studies at Regent’s comments on a report exploring job satisfaction for non-native employees working in a foreign country.

The article follows a study conducted by Preply, a language learning app, which ranked London as one of the top-rated cities with companies that offer the best workplace experience for non-native language speakers working abroad. The study showed that employers are keen to find highly skilled and motivated employees with the capacity to excel in international environments.

Moving to a new country can be a challenging experience for employees and international students alike when adjusting to language and culture. With over 140 nationalities making up the student body at Regent’s, intercultural communication skills and cultural intelligence are integral to what we do and are embedded right across the curriculum.

From opportunities to study abroad to supporting international work placements and offering special language electives as part of degree courses, Regent's provides students with the opportunity to learn about different cultures, specific traditions in business or the arts, and work on real-world projects in multicultural teams.

Robert Johnson explains: ‘Graduates of all disciplines will emerge into a job market that is volatile, uncertain, but also diverse, multicultural, and exciting. Employers are keen to find highly skilled and motivated employees with the capacity to excel in international environments. This may come from language ability, and of course, here at Regent’s all students have the opportunity to develop their linguistic skills in one or more foreign languages apart from English. Or that potential may come from hands-on experience of living and working abroad, no matter where the student originates from.’

To be successful in a foreign work environment and lessen the effects of cultural shock, Johnson suggests:

  • Be open-minded and welcome discomfort in the beginning (moving out of your comfort zone)
  • Learn at least the basics of the language
  • Make efforts to adapt to the culture
  • Listen to and learn from the experiences of people who have spent time in the country you will be working in
  • Demand cross-cultural training and, if necessary, basic language instruction from the company
  • Be open to making new friends and accepting social offers from local contacts (while staying within safe boundaries) to help grow your network and sense of belonging

‘At work, always ask questions and show interest in anything that stands out as different. Ask why. Be modest. The more genuine interest you show, the better you will be regarded by your counterparts.'

On the topic of what Regent's provides graduates, Robert Johnson says, 'One of the many benefits of studying at Regent’s is that students can live and breathe the diversity on campus, then immerse themselves in a new environment and practice new skills in a safe environment, while developing valuable industry knowledge. All this will make graduates highly marketable in the future.'

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