Among the essential skills employers look for in MBAs are multi language skills and international awareness. While English continues to maintain its dominance, other languages including Spanish, French and Mandarin are moving up in an increasingly globalized world.
MBA aspirants, also may want to consider MBA destinations that are more likely to help them build on their language skills and better prepare them for working in new markets and find success in an international career regardless of which language(s) they already speak. Additionally, bilingual candidates could take advantage in MBA admissions by targeting programs with language requirements they already meet.
The advantage in developing multiple language skills helps in the ability to expand horizons to new markets or areas and develop a deeper understanding of the work ethos and culture of different countries.
The UK, US, Canada and Australia have English as medium of instruction and international students whose mother tongue is not English, may have to appear for TOEFL and IELTS to meet English-language requirements.
ESSEC Business School in Cergy, France, has a similar scheme for international students, though the teaching is in English.
Despite the presence of a large number of Spanish speaking people in places like Florida, business schools stick to English as the teaching medium.
However, HEC Montréal in Quebec offers a full-time and part-time MBA in French, Canada’s second official language and the province’s official language.
These programs require a TFI, French-language proficiency test for all non-francophone students. The school also offers a full-time MBA in English as well as a four-week immersive course during summer for students who wish to refresh their skills in French before classes begin.
However, there are exceptions to the rule. University of Miami has an Executive MBA for the Americans in Spanish, targeting professionals aiming to work in Latin American countries or entrepreneurs with business interests in the region.
Some others like McCombs School of Business at Austin, Texas, offer foreign-language electives, for those intending to take up an international career. English dominates even Latin America and MBA applicants may have to provide IELTS or TOEFL scores.
Language requirements might also exist as part of the MBA admissions in markets where English is not the primary language spoken, such as for many business schools in Latin America, which primarily conduct their courses in English.
EGADE in Mexico which has MBA programs in both English and Spanish, wants only proof of proficiency in English. Some others like Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez require mid-level English proficiency so that students can participate in international seminar sin the US or UK. Ingeniería Industrial Universidad de Chile also insists on TOEFL or IELTS.
IAE in Argentina needs both Spanish and English as both languages are used. INCAE Business School in Nicaragua and FGV in Brazil insist on students providing IELTS or TOEFL scores for their English-language programs.
In Asia, the English-language MBA predominates. To satisfy English-language requirements, standardized test scores will be asked for applying to programs available at business schools in places such as China and Japan. Although proficiency in Mandarin is not essential to gain admission into a program in China, top business schools commonly run mandatory Chinese-language training as part of the MBA experience. CEIBS, for example, requires a one-month immersion summer course for students with no prior experience with the Mandarin, as basic competency is compulsory.
However, learning the local language during one’s studies can also be crucial if an international student wishes to pursue a career at their MBA destination after graduation.
Regardless of the destination or program expanding one’s language skills could be one aspect of a carefully planned and successful international MBA career, whether working in new markets or with international teams.
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