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Craig Smith, Manufacturing Engineer, Mitsubishi

My name is Craig Smith and I am a Manufacturing Engineer for Mitsubishi Electric Air Conditioning Systems Europe Ltd (M-ACE) in Livingston.

Working as an engineer involves a variety of skills such as the ability to solve problems, manage projects and work within teams, however in order to achieve all of these tasks, good communication is a necessity.

What languages have you learned?

I currently speak English, Japanese and I can communicate on a basic level in Polish.

How have any language skills helped you in your work or personal life?

As Mitsubishi Electric Ltd has its headquarters in Japan, communication needs to tCartoon image speaking Japaneseake place in both Japanese and English. This can lead to some difficulties when working with colleagues from Japan. A way of dealing with this is to train professionals to speak in both languages to eliminate the communication barrier. I was given this opportunity during my first year working for M-ACE.

I was sent to Japan for a year to learn the language and immerse myself in the culture while working in a Japanese production engineering department. I was given 2 months of intensive training in Japanese and then I worked for the rest of the year while communicating only in Japanese.

After leaving school, I began a relationship with a Polish girl and started to learn Polish in order to communicate with her parents.

What benefits do you think language skills bring?

Learning Japanese was difficult for me but, with perseverance and a regular study schedule, I Japanese cultural iconsgradually reached a point from which I could effectively work and communicate with my colleagues.  

During my time in Japan, I was able to comfortably travel the country, make new friends, have new experiences and gain a great understanding of a different culture, all because I was able to communicate in Japanese.

Upon returning to Scotland, I’ve had further opportunities to go on business trips to Japan, my future job prospects have improved and communication with my Japanese colleagues has become easier. Constantly practising my new language skills while working also provides an additional sense of achievement and job satisfaction. 

Do you have any advice for anyone considering learning a language?

When I was at school, I was always under the impression that everyone speaks English and there is no need to learn another language (this is not true). This hampered my desire to learn a languages signpost showing different directionsnew language and I now regret having had this attitude. Now, I speak Japanese for my work. 

Having an additional language at your disposal opens you up to additional career choices, allows you to meet new people and can lead you down a variety of paths, which would not have been possible had you not taken advantage of this great opportunity that has been given to you.

To anyone studying a language at school, I would say to work hard at this and you will feel the benefits later in life, both in your career and beyond.

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