10 tips to improve language training in your organisation

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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 asking staff to commit their valuable time to learn a new skill, make them aware of the potential benefits of knowing another language, from being better able to meet company objectives to advancing their careers and personal goals.

Conducting an informal seminar could give you the chance to inspire potential candidates, as well as brainstorm with them 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. Measure Learning Progress

Before you decide how you will direct your in-house language training, form a comprehensive picture of your staff and their current 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.

Assessments can 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 train your staff, they will be able to advise you of the type of preliminary assessment most suitable to your needs.

Language Trainers offers FREE Level Tests for individuals for a range of languages. We can also design a free and customized Level Test for your professional teams of any size. Contact us for more information.

3. Offer Job-Specific Training

Make sure that course content is relevant to each learner’s professional role. Lessons and exercises that teach workplace etiquette, common business phrases and vocabulary, and make use of role-playing to develop skills like writing emails and speaking on the phone will help candidates understand how their new language skills can be useful at work.

4. 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 give both parties the opportunity to review which areas of study need the most attention.

If you intend to train multiple people, consider splitting staff into groups according to their language ability. Advanced learners studying alongside beginners in demotivating for everyone: higher-level students cannot progress fast enough; lower-level students feel out of their depth; and it’s difficult for the teacher to manage classroom expectations. Again, this is where an assessment, like our Level Tests mentioned above, can help. So, assess your staff’s current language proficiency, divide them into groups according to ability, and then have the teacher train them with material appropriate to each group’s level.

5. Give Feedback

Organize regular review sessions with candidates to track their progress and keep trainees motivated. Keeping a formal record of progress and feedback with trainees makes it easier for everyone involved to identify strengths and weaknesses, and a private space for staff to give honest feedback about the teaching process.

6. Human Interaction

Learning via exercises will only get your staff so far. Provide opportunities for learners to practice their new language skills with native speakers. For instance, ask guest speakers to visit the sessions or ask staff to attend local language exchanges in their spare time. Failing that, ask the teacher to give extra focus to practicing speaking and listening in class. 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. Encourage Employees to Communicate in the New Language on the Job

Practice makes perfect. Incorporate the new language into everyday business by asking that trainees speak the new language with each other at appropriate opportunities. For example, in business meetings or internal emails.

Although this will take time and you will have to allow for mistakes, giving employees the chance to apply their new skills practically will prove to develop their skills and confidence more quickly. It also means staff will start to teach and correct each other.

9. Promote Extra-Curricular Learning

Help your newly raised army of polyglots to 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 their 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 any pressure.

10. Give Incentives

People respond well to targets and rewards, and not just in the long term. Offering rewards for exceptional effort also introduces an element of healthy competition among trainees and, hence, is a 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, like an app subscription or a food voucher, 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 book an online language course and get started on your employees’ language training!