Com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills, English lessons spur lo­cal traders to think global

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Business -

GUANGZHOU — Ma Jieyao, the owner of a small stall in a whole­sale mar­ket for gar­ments in the city of Guangzhou, south China’s Guang­dong prov­ince, didn’t speak any English two months ago.

But now, af­ter a few lessons in “Shop English”, she is no longer afraid of fac­ing for­eign buy­ers.

This par­tic­u­lar va­ri­ety of the English lan­guage course is all about price in­quiries, bar­gain­ing, pay­ment and de­liv­ery terms. The speak­ers pay lit­tle at­ten­tion to gram­mar or pro­nun­ci­a­tion — it’s a lan­guage of get­ting things done.

“Now when I want to greet buy­ers, I say, ‘Please have a look,’ and I know how to show them new things. I can say ‘last price’ and num­bers,” said Ma. “And I just learned ‘de­liv­ery’ and ‘ware­house’ to­day.”

The evo­lu­tion of lan­guage al­ways re­flects changes in the eco­nomic and cul­tural land­scape. With ac­cel­er­at­ing glob­al­iza­tion, for­eign lan­guages are be­com­ing more ac­ces­si­ble and ap­proach­able.

Sim­pli­fied forms of busi­ness lan­guage like the Shop English course are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar among traders in Guangzhou, China’s south­ern trade hub and home to about 1,000 whole­sale mar­kets.

Hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple are look­ing for busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties there.

“If I can talk to a for­eigner di­rectly, both of us will be happy,” Xia Mingyue, an­other shop owner, told Xin­hua. Xia started tak­ing Shop English classes two years ago. “It will save time and money. Hir­ing an in­ter­preter could be ex­pen­sive. Why not spend that money mak­ing the qual­ity bet­ter or the pack­ag­ing pret­tier?”

Xia doesn’t watch Hol­ly­wood movies or lis­ten to English songs, but she can sell her clothes to Eastern Europe or Latin Amer­ica.

Xiao Wuwei, founder of an English train­ing school, said that more than 2,000 peo­ple took its “Shop English” course in 2017. His old­est stu­dent was a 73-year-old man who sells glasses.

Xiao’s school in­tro­duced a pro­gram called “Cross-bor­der E-com­merce English” two years ago to help stall keep­ers do busi­ness with for­eign­ers on­line.

Liu Guodong is the teacher who de­signed the new pro­gram. He is also a part-time busi­ness­man him­self.

“When you do busi­ness at your stall, you’re ac­tu­ally wait­ing for the buy­ers to come,” Liu said. “But things are dif­fer­ent on­line. You have to pro­mote your goods, write at­trac­tive prod­uct de­scrip­tions, and deal with in­quiries both be­fore and af­ter sales, so there are many things to learn.”

Xiao is plan­ning to op­ti­mize the school’s cur­ricu­lum and de­velop pro­grams on “Lo­gis­tics English”, “De­sign English,” and “In­tel­lec­tual Prop­erty Rights English”.

At the same time, he has launched “Shop Span­ish,” “Shop Ara­bic” and “Shop Rus­sian” for stall keep­ers, as well as “Shop Chi­nese” and even “Shop Can­tonese” for for­eign buy­ers, as the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive pro­posed by China has drawn more peo­ple and cap­i­tal.

Ding Hongchao, as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor at Guangzhou Panyu Polytech­nic, pointed out that cross-bor­der e-com­merce will soon be­come the ma­jor form of in­ter­na­tional trade, and small stall keep­ers must adapt them­selves to the trend.

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