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Hélène Guillet, University of Ulster, James Hamill, Training Manager, Michelin, Dr David Barr, Head of School of Modern Languages, University of Ulster, Dr Marie-Anne Besle, Language Tutor, University of Ulster and Kathy Simpson, Head of Personnel, Michelin

The University of Ulster is helping top NI businesses compete at an international level with the launch of two new language courses in Chinese and French.

Designed for people who need language skills for professional purposes, these innovative programmes will give businesses an edge in an increasingly challenging global market.

After English, Chinese and French are ranked by Bloomberg as the top two languages used for business worldwide.

Dr David Barr, Head of the School of Modern Languages at the University of Ulster said: “Being able to speak more than one language is critical in today’s global business market. Each year, 60 per cent of UK trade takes place with non-English speaking countries and crucially, business deals can be won or lost on the ability to communicate in a range of languages. In the current economic climate, the need for businesses to communicate in other languages is more important than ever.

“Speaking the language of the country that you are doing business with gives flexibility, knowledge and personal connections that can make a difference in the speed and effectiveness of negotiations. It will be viewed as a sign of respect and has the potential to open doors in the future.

“Major employers in Northern Ireland including Moy Park, Michelin, Bombardier and Wrightbus have already enrolled key personnel on to our new language courses which will begin later this month.”

Both language courses will be delivered at University of Ulster’s Belfast campus and will also be taught ‘in house’ for larger groups.On completion of the course students will be able to take the French Embassy exam or the Chinese official proficiency exam, both of which are internationally recognised qualifications.

Dr Barr added: “It is important to remember that learning a new language is not just about grammar and vocabulary, there is cultural understanding too. The new courses will enable businesses to develop an understanding of Chinese or French business practice and culture through tailor-made programmes.”

In September 2011 Northern Ireland’sonly Confucius Institute was established at Ulster (CIUU), which enabled the University to significantly expand its Chinese language and cultural teaching.

Like the 385 other Confucius Institutes operating in universities in 150 countries worldwide, CIUU encourages private and public sector companies and organisations who want to trade with China to study the language, the business culture and its customs to gain a competitive edge.

Yan Liu, Director of the Confucius Institute at the University of Ulster, said: “The Confucius Institute promotes the teaching of Chinese language and culture and facilitates research into China's education system, economy, the arts and society. It will also act as a catalyst for the further development of business links between China and Northern Ireland. We look forward to working with the business community to ensure that Northern Ireland gains maximum benefits from this exciting new initiative.”

For further information on the University of Ulster’s Chinese or French for Business courses email Lorraine Lavery-Bowen at: or phone: 028 90366695.