A Survey Of The Problems And Prospects Of Bilingual Secretaries In An Organisation

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The job classification of secretary is probably the most misunderstand term in office occupation.  Almost any woman who works in an office may refer to herself as “secretary” or almost any employer may speak of “secretary” in describing his clerk.  The term “secretary” is used for prestige to the employee working at such high level and to the employer for rating an employee of such importance as a secretary.



The word “secretary” is derived from Latin word “secretaries” meaning something known only to one or a few and kept SECRET or hidden from the view or knowledge of others.

The Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary of Current English defined a secretary as an “employee in an office, who deals with correspondence, keep records, makes arrangements and appointments for a particular member of the staff”.

The American National Secretarial Association defined secretary as “an executive assistant who possesses a mastery of office skills, who demonstrates the ability to assume responsibility without direct supervision, who makes decision within his assigned scope of authority, who exercises initiative and judgment.

Nowadays, almost all men and women that involve in skilled jobs such as typewriting, shorthand and others see themselves as secretaries but this is not true because the following prefixes different entities in secretary from a typist.  These are as follows:  Permanent, Confidential, Bilingual, Executive, Personal, Company, etc.  Their work depends on the environment in which it is applied.

People have started to realize the importance of secretaries in their offices and the secretaries all over the world.  As a result, this has lead to the scarcity of qualified secretaries almost everywhere in the world because their demand has risen considerably.

According to Dictionary of Occupation Titles a Secretary is one who carries, performs general office work in relieving executive and clerical company officials of minor executive and clerical duties.  She dictates using shorthand stereotype machine, who transcribes dictation or the recorded information reproduced on the transcribing machine, who makes appointments for the executive and reminds him of their interviews, people coming into the office, directing to other works those who do not warrant seeing the executive, who makes and answers telephone calls, handles personal and important mail, writing routine correspondence on her own initiative, what may supervise other clerical workers and may keep personal records.

A good secretary is a public relations expert a staff assistant and the boss office memory.  She is responsible for much of the detail work of the office and is expected to carry out her duties with a minimum supervision and direction.

She represents the company and her employer effectively to the public and generates good human relations in working with all employees in the organization.

A secretary learns how to gain the goodwill and co-operation of her co-workers and respect of the executives.  She identifies her daily business associates as being on a level, and she applies the best principle of human relations at each level.  The secretary is accurate, highly efficient, creative and sound in judging when to use initiative and when to consult her employer about handling a job.

For the secretary to achieve a desired goal, she has to oversee the activities of others under her, this therefore is beyond the paperwork and it involves administration.  She is the “life wire”, the “image maker” or “th communication channel” of any organization.  Whitehead (1980:193).

Since she is an administrator, Davis (1983-4) stressed that the secretary has to plan her work, that is knowing which to treat first, organize them in a manner that she can achieve a desired goal.  By virtue of her work, the secretary knows practically everything relating to her organization, she is the first to come and last to leave the office.

Chamber (1972) says that to function as a secretary, one must act much as the executives “alter ago” and must be a person of responsibilities and even dedicated, qualified by training, experienced and temperament to perform the secretarial duties efficiently and enthusiastically.

In this study the researchers tried to survey the problems and prospects of the bilingual secretary in an organization/


A bilingual secretary is one who exercises her secretarial skill in two languages.  The bilingual secretary is much in demand by companies with international connections.


The bilingual secretary must be qualified to take dictation in her native language and in her second language.

          Other problems include, poor office environment, inadequate equipment for satisfactory job performance, promotion prospects and fringe benefits.

          To a large extent their responsibilities and limits the scope of their job to typing documents taking dictation and transcribing them. As the Country is becoming advanced in commerce and industries, secretaries encounter much problems as they cannot communicate freely in another official language except English language secretaries are said to be the “image maker of an organization” and as an image maker, she is bound to understand and speak a little of another foreign language which will be of more benefit to the organization she works with. The biligual secretaries encounters. Some problems like inadequate means of communication thereby hindering the effectiveness of communication.

          Our government has not accorded secretaries (biligual) their due rights as regards salary grading and prospect fro further studies.  



          Most of the problems confronting biligual secretaries are based on individual secretary’s relationship with his job and job environment.

          In the course of this research, the investigator will research on the likely problems that exist between the secretary and the boss, the secretary and his fellow workers, visitors to the office, inadequate equipment for the performance of his duties and recommend solutions to these problems.



          The significance of this study is to reveal misconception about people’s usage of the word secretary to mean typist and any boy that understand the second lingual franca to be a bilingual secretary.

          The result will also portray the importance of secretaries and to erase some erroneous views about secretaries.

          It will also enable secretaries (bilingual) to understand and appreciate the application of administration principle in the achievement of their daily task. In addition, creating a motivating co-operation and encouraging work environment for the bilingual secretaries as other staff. For executives, it will help them to understand the importance and benefits of allowing secretaries (bilingual) implement these principles as they should be. This will enable them to here certain administrative responsibilities.

          The public will also see that bilingual secretaries perform other professional duties than their professional duties and to transcribe her notes in both language. Since the bilingual secretary is called upon to serve as hostess to foreign visitors, she must possess exceptional poise ability and judgment. Because of her linguistic ability, the bilingual secretary serves as the translator of all foreign correspondence for her employer as well as for other company officials (college secretary procedure).

          Following the description given by OLUMBA, they are highly skilled secretaries. They have knowledge of more than one language. In other words they can write and transcribe shorthand in more than one language. In addition to this quality or knowledge, they study Accounting, Buisness administration, Company and Business Law with which they are expert advice to their executive. Hence, they go on tour with their executives to foreign Countries. They also make phone calls abroad, i.e when the firm makes a lot of business abroad, translate incoming mail and compose replies and reads foreign journals and newspapers.”OLUMBA C., New Talk, IBS Owerri 17th June 1982”.

          According to Harmers and Balance (1982) the use of language as a congnitire organiser is developed by biligual secretary at three different levels, two levels specific to each language and one abstract level common to both languages.



          Generally, our society holds different opinions about the problems and  prospects of biligual secretary in the organization.

          In most offices, today, objectives are difficult to realise. This in most cases have been blamed on the secretaries who are “mirrow” of the organization but cannot express themselves in more than one lingual franca. (AHUKANNA 1985:5). According to Sparling (1970) “secretaries should be good communicators, fluent in spoken and written language as her contacts are very wide and encompassed all levels.

          As Nigeria is surrounded by franco phone Countries as the neighbour, there is every need for every secretary to have at least a knowledge of the second language (French).

          In the course of study of secretary, he is faced with numerous problems. Although problems are experienced in the work of the secretary, he has some prospects in his carrier. The. Problems of this study is therefore that some organizations, individuals, secretaries themselves, employers and the society in general do not seem to know and realise the importance and therefore are ignorant of problems and prospects of biligual secretaries in an organization.  Such duties as public relations officer.

          Finally, suggestion will be made to ensure that solutions are found to the problems of biligual secretary and highlight what his prospects are.


          This study covers the secretary and biligual secretary of the organsiation. The study is limited to only one establishment due to time constraints, it could have been my ideal to cover more establishments or more biligual organization to enable the researcher get more information.

          Findings is a very important  aspect of every research work, as a student, the money available for the study was limited so it makes it imparative to limit the scope of study.



          The purpose of study is to find out the following.

1.                 To identify the problems of the bilingual secretaries in an organization.

2.                 To determine the courses of these problems which affects bilingual secretaries in an organization.

3.                 To determine that, the job of a bilingual secretary goes beyond typing and documenting.

4.                 To determine the extent the modern means of communication have helped the bilingual secretaries in executing their jobs.

5.                 To often suggestions for improvement.

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A Survey Of The Problems And Prospects Of Bilingual Secretaries In An Organisation