I wrote a post on my Travel blog about how a lack of language training in the U.S. is harming the U.S. ability to function internationally, long term. Numerous countries are significantly ahead of the U.S. in global skills.

There’s a term called “transversal” skills – referring to one’s ability to be 21st century forward thinking, to understand other cultures and international opportunities, to be digitally skilled, to have an ability to work across cultures, understanding diversity, and being multi-lingual.

Most U.S. born residents are lacking transversal skills relative to our counterparts in other countries.

In the EU, over 90% of all students will be studying English as a 2nd language in elementary school onwards. In 20 of 29 countries, students are expected to study a 3rd foreign language, beyond English and their own native language.

In a non-pandemic year, an estimated 1.5 million foreign students are studying in U.S. colleges and on high school student exchange programs. There may be more that are staying with U.S. extended family that do not get counted in the tally. Over half of foreign college students in the U.S. are studying STEM subjects and are automatically eligible for a 3 year OPT work visa upon graduation.

Meanwhile, 370,000 or so U.S. students may study abroad, but most study in programs taught entirely in English (their own native language) and will not get the full experience unless they have developed proficiency in the local language.

I wrote a post on that topic, with details, on my Travel blog.

As best I can tell, the U.S. leadership probably knows of these deficiencies – but intends to resolve this primarily by importing workers from abroad, rather than growing our own and training in house. This is unfortunate.

From an international business textbook (992 pages!) I am currently reading:

“International managers face a dilemma in terms of international and intercultural competence. The lack of adequate foreign language and international business skills has led to firms losing contracts, weakened negotiations, and ineffectual management. The increase in the overall international activity of firms increases the need for cultural sensitivity training at all levels of the organization.

Czinkota, Michael R.; Ronkainen, Ilkka A.; Gupta, Suraksha. International Business (p. 143). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.

I will eventually write a review of this text on my Travel blog.

By EdwardM