How to Improve Language Training In Your Company

KCP International/Flickr

KCP International/Flickr

When it comes to honing a diverse, multilingual workforce, strategy is everything. Here, we provide a short guide to making the most of foreign language training in your company.

A multilingual workforce can be a huge asset in the world of modern business. As more and more companies are looking to diversify their staff through the introduction of in-house foreign language training programs, we look at some of the ways you can make the most of language training in your company.

1. Make Employees Aware of the Benefits

Learning a foreign language can be an intense, difficult and time-consuming process, and not all of your employees may be enthusiastic about taking on the extra workload. Before throwing them in at the deep end, make staff aware of the potential benefits in terms of meeting company objectives, advancing in their careers and personal fulfillment.

Conducting an informal seminar could give you the chance to inspire and inform candidates, as well as brainstorm with them concerning how best to conduct sessions. Set goals and make sure that they are made clear.

Speaking to Sarah Fister Gale at Workforce, Mindstorm Group language trainer Duane March says, “if employees need to be proficient in a foreign language to do their jobs or to get promoted, let them know exactly what that means, what their timeline is and how many hours they are expected to invest in the training.”

2. Find Out Where You Stand

Before you decide how you will direct your in-house language training, it is essential that you obtain a comprehensive picture of your staff and their abilities. A short, no-pressure assessment could be invaluable in helping you structure sessions and divide staff into appropriate groups, while giving you an idea of the scale of the journey ahead.

Assessment could be written, verbal, or multiple-choice, or it could even mean some sort of game or group activity. If you are bringing in an external agency to run sessions, they will usually be able to advise you on the type of preliminary assessment best suited to your needs.

How would you or one of your employees get on while working with America’s many Spanish speakers? Try our Spanish Level Test to see how you score.

3. Offer Job-Specific Training

Make sure that course content stays relevant to the trainees’ jobs and industry. Including common business phrases, examples of emails or telephone transcripts and working using specific business documents will help candidates understand how their evolving language skills will be directly useful within their job roles.

4. Remember that Structure Is Key

Think carefully about how the course is structured and paced. Receiving too much material at once can be overwhelming for anyone. Breaking the material up into manageable, bite-sized portions will help employees to stay motivated, and will give both parties the opportunity to review which areas of study need to be focused on.

5. Give Feedback

Let candidates know that you care. Organising regular review sessions with individuals gives you the opportunity to track performance in a controlled way and keeps trainees motivated by offering them the chance to report back on their learning. Keeping a record with trainees makes it easier for both parties to identify strengths and weaknesses and also provides a unique source of reflection towards the end of the training.

6. Human Interaction

Make sure that they are able to converse regularly with native speakers of the new language. You could ask various guest speakers to visit the sessions, a successful notion even if the guests are colleagues. According to Julia Bonheim, marketing director for Mochalive, “Practicing with a native speaker creates engagement and gives learners a reason to keep trying.”

7. Make it a Priority

If the language program assists the company in meeting its strategic business goals, then it is only fair that employees should be given time during the workday to take the training. Obviously, this will involve careful planning so that your business continues to function efficiently.

Workforce reports that Best Buy Inc., for example, allows retail employees to take up to eight hours of training per month during work time, as a means of accommodating the increase of Spanish-speaking customers.

8. Require Employees to Communicate in the New Language While On the Job

Practice makes perfect, and practicing new language skills with your employees will help build confidence and proficiency. Incorporate the new language into everyday business by asking that trainees speak the new language in certain business meetings, or when emailing certain colleagues or even by introducing foreign language versions of corporate software.

Although this will take time and you will have to allow for mistakes, giving employees the chance to apply their new skills practically should prove to be enormously effective.

9. Encourage Extra Curricular Learning and Activities

Help your newly raised army of polyglots recognize that learning doesn’t have to begin and end in the classroom. It may benefit budding linguists to reach out to one another away from the confines of the prescribed program of learning. Perhaps workers could form private study groups as a means of supplementing their learning.

Setting up chat groups or a dedicated social media page could also help groups with focus and morale, giving individuals the sense that their difficulties and achievements are not theirs alone. Remind your learners that such options are available to them should they require a chance to work on their skills without the pressure.

10. Give Incentives

People respond well to targets and rewards, and not just in the long term. Offering significant bonuses for exceptional effort also introduces an element of healthy competition among trainees and hence could be a key motivational tool.

If you have the resources, why not offer the top achievers the chance to win a weekend break to a country where the language is spoken? Even if you have to think on a smaller scale, the stimulating value of an incentive scheme should not be underestimated.

Put all of these tips to the test and get ready to meet your new, motivated, multilingual workforce–a crack team ready to take the international business world by storm! Contact Language Trainers today to get started!

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