Almost half of the Black Country bosses who think they should speak a foreign language to boost their firm's overseas prospects can actually do it, a survey has revealed.
While almost two thirds (60 per cent) think knowledge of a foreign tongue could help win orders abroad, just over a third (38 per cent) can speak another language other than English.
Meanwhile 14 per cent have learnt a new language specifically for their jobs.
The survey by Business Link Black Country targeted over 2,000 individuals in the Black Country business community to discover the importance of speaking a second language in order to help boost international trade.
European languages still seem to be a popular choice when it comes to learning a second language for business, with 29 per cent saying French is an advantageous language for international correspondence, closely followed by German at 21 per cent.
This is particularly evident with respondents working in the manufacturing industry.
Meanwhile 19 per cent thought learning Spanish would have impact on the future of international business relations, followed by Italian (12 per cent) and Mandarin (seven per cent).
Tony Lucas, executive director, Business Link Black Country, believes speaking a second language is an invaluable skill necessary if companies are to succeed in international trading.
He said: "Black Country businesses must not be complacent in assuming everyone speaks English when it comes to dealing with companies overseas.
"It is encouraging to see more and more Black Country firms are recognising the importance of learning another language and are investing in staff training to specifically address the problem.
"Some firms are also looking at recruiting people with language skills in order to communicate better with business partners in the competitive international market."
* Businesses wanting more information on learning a second language can contact Business Link Black Country's Gateway Service on 0845 113 1234.