Is Translation really necessary?

A study by the European commission of over 53,000 on the competencies of secondary school children studying one or two foreign languages in 2011 revealed a very stark result.

Out of the 16 participating states the percentage of children not reaching beyond Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) level A1 in reading, listening and writing in their first chosen language (mostly English) was as follows

Reading 46%

Listening 39%

Writing 33%

To put this into context here’s what the CEFR defines as Level A1


I can get an idea of the content of simple informational material and descriptions, especially if there is visual support.


I can understand questions and instructions if people speak carefully and slowly, and I can follow short, simple directions.


I can write a few words and phrases that relate to myself, my family, where I live, my school.

So here’s my point, do you really believe that if you’re exporting that you will be engaging with your target market if you only use your own language? Do you honestly believe that if your window to the world has broken French (or any other language) written all over it, it will attract the next multimillion pound order? In fact don’t you think that you will become one of the increasing examples of “Lost in Translation?” which are beginning to litter the social media sites?

In all seriousness the answers to all these questions we probably already know… but what to do about it or who to speak to about it is a little more tricky in this very crowded market space.