European often love to take the moral high ground when it comes to controversial issues, but this time, the Irish are smack dab on the wrong side of the issue. Because according to a recent article in the Herald a number of Irish companies are banning foreign languages (notably Polish) from their workplaces.
Lest people start thinking that these are low-wage earning workers who are being shown a lesson or two from the boss man, please think again. Some of those involved worked in white collar, well-paid professions.
Due to a deafening lack of comment from the companies involved, it's hard to find out what the real issue is. However, it smells of insecurity on the employer's part. In one case, foreign languages were even banned from the canteen! What's even more ironic is to see European companies banning the use of another European language!
While I can appreciate the need for a common working language, it seems ridiculous to require a common language for non-work conversations or when everyone in the group speaks the language in question.
Working in France, I frequently speak in English with colleagues both French and non-French. For starters, to outlaw English in my case would cause definite problems, resulting in some great talent leaving the company. Secondly, though I work primarily in French, a large number of my co-workers enjoy speaking English with their American and British counterparts.
At the end of the day, the problems caused by such laws far outweigh any perceived good that could come from it. It may be time for some of these companies in Ireland to rethink such measures before they embarrass themselves with the pending lawsuits already filed against them.