Having a good command of English is crucial for Shiro Nakamura, a senior vice president in charge of design at Nissan Motor Co., to work with President Carlos Ghosn, other foreign executives and subordinates.

But Nakamura, who joined the carmaker in 1999 when it formed a capital alliance with French automaker Renault S.A., has taken a light-hearted approach to the language.

In fact, the 53-year-old designer admits he does not understand everything people say in English.