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Language training and diplomacy

One of the most important benefits the knowledge of foreign languages offers us is the ability to communicate with people from other countries, getting to know their culture and to an extent dissolving social barriers presented by linguistic diversity.

Foreign language skills are particularly important in 21st-century business, enabling cross-border collaboration and trade, however, they have become indispensable in another key area, political cooperation. For diplomats, language skills are necessary for the purpose of day-to-day functioning in the country of posting, as well as for concluding agreements on a wide array of subjects including; trade agreements, climate change and peace-making. The incredible job our FCO teachers do in preparing our students for their posts, means that they themselves take part in this process, by expanding students’ linguistic capabilities and broadening their horizons through embedding cultural elements within training. In this article, we explore some of the reasons why our tutors and their work has so much influence on the success of British foreign relations. 


Diplomacy, which in its most simple form considers the conduct of relations between two or more states (and more recently including non-state actors such as the UN or EU), can be considered dependent on the ability to communicate effectively. Foreign language training equips civil servants with the necessary skills to enable such effective communication with counterparts from other countries. The easier it is to communicate between state officials, the more likely it will be that solutions developed in the process become a common denominator, thus making state cooperation more effective and inclusive. Issues such as cybercrime, terrorism and climate change are global in nature meaning that they don’t respect national borders. In order to respond to such threats successfully, diplomats must be able to break down barriers to come together and develop solutions addressing these dangers. This is easier said than done because the foundation of diplomacy is to represent the interest of our state to the representatives of other states, who also by logic have their own agendas. By taking out the language barrier problem, we are thus able to focus on the most important issues at stake and that is, coming up with mutually satisfying solutions to global problems.


In this sense, language training is a very important element in preparing diplomats for their postings and enabling them to fulfill their duties effectively. Skills gained during their training enable representation of the British position on a variety of subjects to the host country officials and what’s increasingly important, interacting with the locals for the purpose of promoting British interests within the domain of public diplomacy. An example of this includes attending trade shows to promote British products abroad, providing interviews to local media outlets or delivering speeches on a wide variety of subjects. Learning to do so prior to departing for post is critical as there is no time for on-the-job language training. The stakes are also very high which means the work of teachers in the preparation of students often acts as a window into a completely different culture and language. Making the courses interactive and engaging means that the students find it easier to adapt to the new environment so teacher influence in this regard is very high. Then, there is also the impact language training has on the daily lives of diplomats at post and their functioning in society, including simple things like grocery shopping. These are the very basics of language training but form an important milestone in progressing towards more specific topics. Again, by ensuring that these skills become second nature to our students, teachers are laying an important foundation for specialised knowledge that comes later in the programme.


What stems from this is that our teachers, working hard to deliver training for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have significant influence and an important role to play in the preparation and the way in which diplomats settle within their country of posting. In addition to the development of linguistic skills, cultural awareness is another undervalued aspect that becomes a differentiator in the way diplomats successfully navigate their new surroundings. Enriching language training with cultural elements and tailoring lessons to student’s learning preferences means that they can make the most of their time prior to posting, learning about their future “home”. PLS is very proud to work with so many fantastic teachers, who work hard to ensure that they're delivering high-quality training to enable our students to succeed and become effective diplomats. We would like to thank you for all the effort you make, in order to help our students succeed and as a result making the world a better place for everyone. 

Contact Us (HQ)

Language Solutions

7 King Street Cloisters

London, W6 0GY


Language Solutions Holdings - our companies

  Professional Language Solutions Ltd
Established in 1991, PLS provides language training in multiple formats and over 50 languages for corporate and government customers across the UK.
  Language Solutions International Ltd
Operating since 1993, LSI is the international wing of our organisation. We offer specialist English language training and assessments, as well as recruitment and manpower solutions for projects around the world.


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