اهمیت مهارت های زبان های خارجی در بخش گردشگری: مطالعه مقایسه ای نوع درک دانشجو در انگلستان و قاره اروپا
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|21038||2006||11 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||محاسبه نشده|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Tourism Management, Volume 27, Issue 6, December 2006, Pages 1397–1407
There is little doubt that skills in the language of another country are invaluable when communicating with people from that country. This is nowhere more apposite than in the context of the cross-cultural interface between tourism enterprises and visitors. However, the need for such skills in the UK has gained little attention, even in the key area of tourism. UK-based research that has been undertaken reinforces this view and also established the attitudes and perceptions of tourism students to the study and development of foreign language (FL) skills. In contrast, other EU countries reputedly have a greater awareness of the need for these skills and commitment to developing them which leads to speculation that tourism students in continental Europe would have contrasting attitudes to their UK counterparts. Subsequent to review of the importance of FL skills in the tourism sector the findings of research undertaken to investigate this hypothesis are presented. Significant variations between UK and non-UK students are identified not the least of which is the comparatively weak attention given to FL skills development in the UK. In concluding, the implications of the findings are discussed and concerns raised over the need to address evident weaknesses in order to enhance career options and tourism management in the UK.
The international crises and terrorist acts witnessed since 2000 have served all too well to remind everyone, not least those businesses which seek to meet the needs of tourists, just how vulnerable tourism demand is for any one particular destination. Thus, tourism businesses need to do everything possible to ensure their international competitiveness and maximise their traditional markets, which is all the more vital given the highly competitive global market within which destinations are increasingly vying with each other for a share of the market. This is particularly true of the countries in Europe, especially those in the west, which have gained substantially from international visitors—predominantly other Europeans—for well over a century. However, Europe's share of international tourist arrivals has declined in latter years as the marketplace has expanded and competition increased, a trend which has significant implications for the countries of Europe. It might be expected, given the marketplace within which tourism enterprises now operate, coupled with the intercultural services interface between visitor and host, that the development of foreign language (FL) skills amongst the potential workforce would be a matter of course. This is applicable across all of Europe, and thus there is an explicit need for FL skills throughout the region, as illustrated by their major European market segments (see Table 1). Table 1. Arrivals of non-resident tourists Country Austria France Germany Greece Italy Netherlands Spain UK Austria — 385 10,145 60 964 1238 195 645 France 4042 — 10,787 4607 48,350 77,279 18,925 108,006 (1) Germany 809 845 — 107 1030 2590 423 1713 Greece 475 602 2395 — 823 655 115 2772 Italy 1894 2861 9801 242 — 1376 2086 2460 Netherlands (3) 455 2657 (3) 343 — 259 1939 Spain 232 3280 7876 92 1898 1892 — 9500 UK 1268 16,274 14,182 1618 7186 5859 8562 — Notes: 1. Combined UK/Ireland visitors. 2. Arrivals at national borders, 2000 only. 3. Austria and Greece classed as other Europe Visitor Numbers for 2001—972,500 (actual figure). Source: WTO Yearbook of Tourism Statistics, 2003. Table options As Monod (1992, p. 15) argued over 10 years ago: ‘The knowledge not only of languages but also of the culture of different European nations, …, in short, a knowledge of others, is an absolute must.’ A view affirmed by the UK Secretary of State for Education and Employment, emphasising the importance of FL learning: ‘There is no doubt that, despite the dominance of English as a world language, the ability to speak another language—or several languages—is increasingly important in our competitive and global economy.’ (Blunkett, 1998, p. 1) This echoes the European Union's stance on the importance of FLs in the curriculum and that an accent should be put on developing multi-linguistic ability as opposed to a student being fluent in only one FL (Leslie (1993a) and Leslie (1993b); Richards, 1995). This view is supported by many employers in the tourism sector as Davies (1999) and Leslie et al. found, for example, and as one visitor centre manager expressed: ‘The main thing is to be able to hold a conversation and understand guest/customer's needs.’ (2004, p. 263) A minority of organisations preferred fluency, e.g. a function of their field of business, in a call centre dealing with emergencies, for example: ‘Fluency is paramount.. because some customers can be in crisis.’ (2004, p. 263) This advocacy of the need for FL skills and correlating support by tourism employers brings into focus the place of FL study in tourism courses. Recognition of this leads to a study to investigate this area (Leslie, Russell, & Forbes, 2002), the findings of which catalysed research, as noted above, into the views and needs of tourism employers. A number of concerns emerged from these studies over the development of, and the need for, FL skills in the UK, not the least of which, as discussed below, were the implications of such concerns on the current and future competitiveness of tourism in the UK. Subsequently, we began to question whether the situation in the UK was similar across continental Europe. To further the study, research was then undertaken to investigate the position of FL studies in tourism courses across Europe and the perceptions of the respective students to the development of FL skills with the primary objective of establishing whether there are substantial differences in opportunities and student attitudes. This article presents the findings of this latest stage of what, in effect, is now a longitudinal study into FL skills and the tourism sector. First, however, it is necessary to set the background to and context for these findings commencing with a discussion of the value of FL skills in the promotion and delivery of tourism services. This leads on to establishing support for and the benefits attributable to FL capability in business generally and tourism specifically. Subsequently, key factors relating to tourism employers, and the situation relating to undergraduate tourism programmes, in the UK are brought into the discussion.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
The opening analysis of the value of FL skills established three major points. First, the added value that skills in FLs bring to business in general and arguably more so to the tourism sector. Secondly, the importance of good, effective communications, particularly in promotional campaigns and at the host/guest interface. Communication in this area is all important—the first contact invariably influences the customer experience—yet it is an area that has gained little attention in the tourism sector (Blue & Harun, 2003). Third, the comparative paucity of attention to the value of these skills in the tourism sector, including education and training, especially in the UK. Further confirmation of this was forthcoming from employers in the tourism sector, who also forecast a shortage of potential recruits with the necessary FL skills. These outcomes raise a range of concerns, particularly with regard to attitudes towards FL skills in tourism education. Is this just applicable to the UK? To explore this question, research into FL studies in tourism programmes, and the attitudes of students, on mainland Europe was undertaken using a methodology closely based on the approach used for the UK study. To ensure currency of comparative analyses, UK students were also included. The findings identified a range of substantive differences. First, the tourism programmes in mainland Europe predominantly included mandatory provision, and also optional opportunities, to study FLs. Thus, the student would graduate with skills in one FL at least and more probably two, thereby and in accordance with UK employers’ preferences favouring multi-FL skills, and making continental students more attractive potential recruits. These students, in contrast to the UK, were by far more supportive of mandatory provision within the course programme. Second, the continental students may have 3 years in full language immersion compared with the UK wherein students may possibly study one FL for just one semester. Furthermore, the continental students support all aspects of the development of FL skills and are more likely to use such skills than their UK counterparts. UK students may well be increasing their travel abroad but this has been found to be more to north America and Australia/New Zealand (Clare, 2004a) and not to countries with a different language. Even so, UK students, albeit comparatively less so, did recognise the value of having FL skills in terms of increasing their employment prospects, an outcome which strongly supports the view of the majority of the employers and of the European Union. However, the same split occurs with the minority of UK students as with the minority of UK employers—denial and excuse-making. Evident throughout much of the research is a recurrent theme—that English is the global language. This may be so but the argument ignores socio-cultural dimensions and assumes information seekers and visitors to the UK speak English. It is against this background that we should consider the apparent lack of support by tourism organisations and ‘leaders’ in the field of tourism course development for the acquisition and promotion of FL skills which represent an essential element in the provision of top quality service to overseas tourists.