The recent media coverage of the Chilean miners rescue has highlighted the importance of languages in the global community. You only had to witness Tim Wilcox, prized journalist for the BBC, switching effortlessly into Spanish in order to interview the family of a miner and then translating the conversation back into English again for the viewers at home, to understand how much of an asset his knowledge of Spanish was to the BBC at this crucial time and indeed, for making him, usually the studio anchorman, the ideal man for the job abroad.
"And the other secret weapon the BBC had was its remarkable on-site anchor, Tim Wilcox. He is normally an anchor on the domestic BBC News channel but he was sent to Chile three weeks ago and he showed a remarkable change in persona anchoring on-site rather than from the studio. It was obvious how well he knew his story, that he knew and had spoken to all those involved – officials, family, and the like, his Spanish was impeccable in being able to interview family members and officials live and give instant translation – he was just so natural." (http://followthemedia.com/writeon/bbcchile14102010.htm)
His Twitter feed also shows the benefits of his language knowledge, as well as the power of Web 2.0 technologies:
Just spoke to the father of the first miner expected up, Florencio Avalos. Father Alfonso says he is excited but anxious.
1,286,908,596,000.00 via web
Interpreters were also important in the international communication process of the rescue attempt:
The voice of an interpreter on hand to translate the words of the miners and rescuers for the English-speaking audience watching at home, could sometimes be heard directing the miners to get out of the way of the camera set up to beam images across the planet.
Interpreters were also used to communicate Presidential speeches abroad, and Chile's President, Sebastian Pinera, even showed up or own PM by speaking to him in fluent English.
All in all languages were at the heart of international affairs. So if you want to get ahead in the world - learn languages!
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