Language plays a role in many different sectors. Whether it be business, politics, academia, etc., one important way of building relationships is by means of the organization of international conferences. Especially in business development, direct contact provides global conference participants an important element for networking. In a non-English speaking country, when hundreds of people touch down in a city to attend an international conference, is it appropriate to propose English as the common language?
Though many may feel English is the main language of communication on a global business level, translation and interpretation are the keys for comprehension. For instance, picture a distinguished invited guest come up to a microphone to give a welcome speech. Then, picture him speaking his native tongue while half of the audience looks back at him with a blank look on their faces. Embarrassment for the event host is likely to follow.
At an international conference, there may be representation from 20 different countries. A simple question ensues: If people communicate better in their native tongue, are you doing them a disservice by forcing them to use only English?
As mentioned, conferences are a great platform for attendees to network. Yet, there is another component to them as well such as the presentations given during sessions. Participants invest time and money to attend. They should not have to miss the meaning behind the important topics discussed in those sessions due to a language barrier. Providing them a service of interpretation will resolve that issue.
Using one common language to communicate may be right to an extent, but one purpose of an international event is to build a bridge between the different attending cultures. Connecting people, regardless of their language, through interpretation, is a sure way to give all attendees the feeling of inclusion on a global level.