It doesn’t matter if you are doing business in China, India, The UK or Brazil; learning English is still an essential tool to obtain success in the competitive global business market.
Let’s Trade in English should be on the list of essential books for professionals of International Trade and business and it’s highly recommended for those who are learning English as a second language.
In this interview, the Brazilian author Vera Spínola talks about how her expertise as PhD in Business Administration and Master’s Degree in Economics has helped students and professionals to improve their English skills in dealing with the world’s market and international relations.
Midlands T: How did you get the idea of writing Let’s Trade in English?
Vera SpínoIa: I used to be a franchisee of Number One English School, an English as a Second Language course, located in downtown Salvador, whose students were mainly adults working at banks, shipping and international trade companies. One of the groups requested a language course focused on international trade. So I started collecting information and preparing the classes for this specific group. Later, I was invited by Unifacs, a private university also in Salvador, to teach Business English as a subject of an undergraduate program majoring in international trade. The writings used in classes became a textbook.
MT: Being an Economist and also an educator has inspired you with the idea of writing the book.
VS: I would say yes, in many ways. I had worked in International trade for many years. First, at the Brazilian Embassy in Santiago Chile. Later, as trade manager of a big petrochemical company. As far as economics is concerned, the concepts learned from the theory help to understand and write about market dynamics. Besides, my students contributed to building up a textbook.
MT: How do you think the methodology used in your book has helped learners to improve their English skills?
VS: We tried to combine the basic structures of the English language with elements that are relevant to international trade. The first chapter is very basic. It deals with the verb BE and simple wh questions (who, where, where…from, etc.), combined with world geography and Mr Tung’s story, who is a real character. Gradually, through the following ten chapters, the student is introduced to more advanced grammar structures and specific themes, like logistics, the Incoterms, the steps of a business deal, letters of credit, foreign exchange, international payments, import procedures, as well as to the basic concepts of the classical international trade theory. The 11th chapter deals with business communication. At the end, there is a glossary of technical terms with their corresponding Portuguese translation. The many grammar exercises always take place within a world trade environment.
MT: Who is your targeted audience?
VS: It is meant for learners and speakers of English as a Second Language dealing with the world market and international relations.
MT: In your opinion, what are the benefits the professionals working in the International Trade area can get from learning a second language? (In this case, English)
VS: Speaking English is obviously essential to someone working in the international market.
Sometimes it’s hard for an adult to learn a second language, but if he can learn it under situations that are common to his day-to-day work, he will be more motivated.
Besides, speaking English will help him reach an executive position, like becoming a trader or a manager.
MT: Do you believe speaking English is fundamental to finding a good job in countries like Brazil?
VS: English skills help to develop a career in any country of the world. Of course, it is more relevant to activities dealing with foreigners, such as tourism, international relations, diplomacy, foreign exchange, and logistics. It’s also essential to researchers, scientists and scholars, who should be able to read, write and publish in English.
Since it has become a global language, the important point is to make oneself understood.
English has become richer with different accents and variations which make the speaker more relaxed. In the past, there was a lot of pressure to speak British or American English. The linguistic variations were not tolerated, which inhibited the speaker. However, the many languages brought by immigrants that flourished in the USA have enriched American English enormously. Today English is spoken in at least fifty countries, due to the power of the British Empire in the past. Indian English, for example, is spoken by at least 1.2 billion people, in a country that is very active in trade. On the other hand, the Jamaican variety of English, spoken by 2.7 million, became popular worldwide through reggae music.
A professional working in international trade should never feel uncomfortable about his accent and should also get used to listening to different varieties of English.
MT: What else is important to professionals in the area to keep themselves upgraded in the market?
VS: One: never stops learning. It’s hard to keep up-to-date because knowledge has become more dynamic. Things change very fast. In general, one should be always aware of the international news day-to-day. Specifically, it’s very important to be accurate with the cost structure of the goods and services traded. One must also be acquainted with the legal requirements and procedures related to the products and services, in both exporting and importing countries. As you can see, the field is so broad that it’s recommended to specialize in a certain area and to become a generalist at the same time.
MT: Let’s Trade in English is in its 3rd edition now. What was the main change in the content if compared to the other previous editions?
VS: I’ve tried to update most information. There is a new chapter focused on the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and later South Africa). To make the book more accurate, the seven chapters from the original edition were subdivided into eleven shorter ones. The answers to the exercises were added to the end of each chapter. Since some teachers and students thought the exercises were too long, I made them shorter. Some are still too long, I might say.
MT: Do you think about writing more books about the same subject in the future? What are your projects in the area?
VS: I like so much writing that I decided to go back to college, to Universidade Federal da Bahia – UFBA, to get a major in Letters – Portuguese and English, which is keeping me quite busy. Under the same approach of Let’s Trade in English, I’ve started writing Let’s Travel in English. I’m also writing about a Brazilian painter. It’s a kind of fictional biography which I’ve been working on, along with the Letters course. It’s necessary, however, to establish some deadlines and priorities; otherwise, one gets caught up with the demands of day-to-day life and never finds time for long-term projects.
About the author:
Vera Spínola was born in Salvador Bahia, Brazil, where she lives now. She has a PhD in Business Administration and a Master’s degree in Economics from the Universidade Federal da Bahia, UFBA, Brazil. She has a bachelor’s degree from Slippery Rock University, Pennsylvania, USA. Currently, she teaches MBA courses at Unifacs-Universidade Salvador, in Salvador Bahia, Brazil and at Aduaneiras Cursos, São Paulo, which is also the editor of the textbook Let’s Trade in English. She has worked for ten years in the petrochemical industry as a trade manager; has been an intern in the commercial section of the Brazilian Embassy, in Santiago, Chile; has taught International Economics and English as a Second Language focused on international business at Unifacs.