Multilingual in Business!

Multilingual in Business!

Plurilingual and intercultural proficiency are a part of the key competences in international business. In companies operating internationally, business people use several languages at the same time, switching and mediating between languages and cultures.

Based on the key results of the Pluriling Study, an innovative language module Multilingual business communication has been introduced at the Turku School of Economics.

Pluriling Study in a nutshell

Key questions:

  • How plurilingual are people in IB?
  • Isn’t one lingua franca enough?
  • Which plurilingual competences are needed in international business communication?

The Pluriling Study (a language needs analysis):

  • Focus on alumni of Turku School of Economics, mainly with major International Business and alumni working abroad
  • Online survey 2014, number of respondents: 214
  • With support of Liikesivistysrahasto | Foundation for Economic Education


  • The staff is plurilingual, mastering six or more languages (44 %) or five languages (38 %)
  • Multilingual situations are normal, 53 % experience them always or daily
  • Typical multilingual situations are mostly internal communication with colleagues and in meetings. They are about negotiations, decision making, and small talk (= relational communication).
  • Multilingual communication typically consists of combinations with English and Finnish, Swedish or German; combinations with two (foreign) languages are the most frequent, but combinations with three languages occur often.

Plurilingual proficiency:

Expand your comfort-zone

Plurilingual proficiency is the ability to use three or more languages for the purpose of communication with specific skills bridging the gap between the languages:


  • Language alternation:
    "In my earlier work in Germany I changed between German-English-Finnish 20-30 times in a day."
  • Code-switching:
    "I am very practical in terms of languages and use code-switching, if necessary. (...), if I sometimes don’t find a particular term quickly in a particular language, I resort to code-switching rather than leaving too long to find the right term."
  • Mediating:
    "Training plurilingual discussion: Interpreting to other students what was discussed."
  • Transfer:
    "Knowing and understanding different languages (understanding, for example, knowing Spanish, but not Italian, the reading of an Italian email may still succeed)."

Quotes from the TSE-alumni, Pluriling Study

With support of Liikesivistysrahasto / Foundation for Economic Education.

More information at Pluriling Study's project site

Implementation: Multilingual business communication module

Multilingual business communication module

Multilingual business communication: A cross-linguistic study module at the Turku School of Economics

The business environment today is highly international and communication in internationalizing firms is multilingual. In order to succeed in situations where multiple languages are used, well-trained personnel is aware of plurilingual proficiency and the implementation of it: Employees choose consciously the appropriate language and can switch smoothly from one language to another. They are also able to mediate between languages and cultures and they benefit from the transfer between languages. Plurilingual skills facilitate the studies of additional languages.

The courses in the study module Monikielinen yritysviestintä | Multilingual business communication comprise training in the above-mentioned skills bridging the gap between multiple languages. Each course uses and fosters at least two languages. The study points can be accredited either in the optional studies or in one of the languages in question. The MONI-module has been introduced in 2016.

MONI1 Plurilingual Business Communication

(trilingual En + Sv + De)
Training language alternation, code switching, and mediating in oral business presentations and discussions.

The course focuses on describing trends, giving presentations in multilingual
business contexts, and mingling in an international and multilingual setting.
The communication style of the target culture will be taken into consideration
during the learning process. Multiple languages are used to practice effective
business communication in interactive teamwork and discussion sessions.
Introduced in 2017.
KKMO0001 MONI1 Plurilingual Business Communication (English-Swedish-German), 3 op

MONI2 Flerspråkig affärskommunikation | Mehrsprachige Geschäftskommunikation

(Sv + De)
Including oral and written communication aiming transfer skills and mediation activities with business content.

Främst tränas den svenska och tyska muntliga språkfärdigheten samt flerspråkiga aktiviteter såsom kodväxling, transfer och återgivning av tyska texter på svenska och tvärtom. Trainiert werden konkrete mehrsprachige Situationen im Geschäftsleben wie Geschäftskommunikation, Informationsweitergabe sowie Gespräche und Verhandlungen in beiden Sprachen. Zwei Unternehmensbesuche bei voraussichtlich Bayer OY und bei Meyer Turku OY. Der Kurs läuft jährlich, sedan år 2010.
KKMO0002 MONI2 Flerspråkig affärskommunikation (Swedish-German), 3 op

MONI3 Voyage d’étude plurilingue | Plurilinguale Studienreise

(De + Fr)
Combining learning in the classroom with authentic situations during the study trip, training continuous language alternation, code switching, and mediating.

Des outils de base (conscience langagière, code-switching, empathie langagière) pour la construction d’une compétence de communication orale en allemand et en français dans la vie des affaires. Im Mittelpunkt stehen Deutsch und Französisch, diese Sprachen werden kontinuierlich und wechselweise genutzt, um dadurch plurilinguale Einzelfertigkeiten zu trainieren und ein Bewusstsein für das Lernen und die Verwendung mehreren Sprachen aufzubauen. Depuis 2007 – fahren wir plurilingual en Suisse.
KKMO0003 MONI3 Voyage d’étude plurilingue, (French-German) 3 op

Multilingual in Business! -promoting video (2016)