Presents the findings of a study of the use of foreign languages by Irish exporting companies. Suggests that, although a substantial majority of respondents believe that foreign language skills are very important for export success, relatively very few of them actually use foreign languages to any great extent in their day‐to‐day exporting activities. Just over half of the firms contacted claim to communicate frequently in German or French, around 20 percent in Italian or Spanish; only 7 percent use Japanese and less than 3 percent use any other foreign language on a regular basis. The specific tasks conducted in a foreign language are relatively low level basic exchanges of information in telephone calls, fax messages or routine letters rather than activities requiring higher‐level language skills such as negotiating contracts or discussing technical specifications. The implications of the research are discussed in the wider context of export promotion and development in general, and some ideas for further research on this topic are suggested.
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