Magazine

Table: Getting Ahead


SILVIO BERLUSCONI

Italian Prime Minister

Long took private English lessons, but aides discourage him from using it in public, fearing a gaffe. He understands more English than he speaks.

JACQUES CHIRAC

French President

Learned English doing odd jobs around the U.S. and was briefly engaged to an American woman. It's not as good as his Russian, but Chirac is more comfortable in English than his Prime Minister, Lionel Jospin.

JOSE MARIA AZNAR

Spanish Prime Minister

Elementary level, an embarrassment for Aznar. Spanish media roasted him after a meeting with President Clinton in which Spanish King Juan Carlos I served as interpreter.

JORMA OLLILA

Chairman, Nokia

Excellent. He learned it at school in Britain and later on assignment as a Citibank manager in London. Ollila, like most Finns, also speaks Swedish but sticks to English even with Swedes.

JEAN-MARIE MESSIER

CEO, Vivendi-Universal

Like many grads of France's Grandes Ecoles, Messier speaks fluent English. And his French accent should take an American turn as he settles into his new luxury apartment in Manhattan.


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