Company language programs are an excellent way to ensure your non-native speakers can communicate effectively in all required capacities. An effective language program will improve productivity, company culture, and the bottom line. But there are a lot of variables to consider when identifying and instituting a program, and common challenges of corporate language programs should be considered and addressed before the launch. While there are many benefits of a corporate language training program, the ultimate goal is a return on investment.
Identifying the typical challenges of a company language program will help you preemptively address potential issues so you can be assured of a well-run, effective program that will serve your company’s needs. Here are eight of the most common challenges of corporate language training programs, as well as tips to tackle each challenge.
Every company has unique language requirements based on the industry, job roles, and target markets. Identifying the specific English language needs of employees is one of the challenges when implementing training, especially if the company operates in a diverse range of sectors or has employees with varied roles. If a growing company wants to reach an international market, it’s wise to invest in an English language training program.
Bridge’s corporate language training begins with needs analyses and interviews, designed to identify a company’s unique needs and goals. Part of this initial investigation is to understand why the company wants to provide English training, so training to can be tailored to accomplish this specific goal. Is it to improve communication within the organization, enhance customer service, or enable employees to work in an English-speaking environment?
Starting with clearly-defined objectives, language program materials and activities can be aligned to ensure employees are receiving targeted training that teaches the English language skills they’ll use in their job-specific roles.
2. Ensuring employees have the time and resources to commit to language training
Committing time to language training can be difficult. Courses and study are additional responsibilities in employees’ already full workloads. Balancing work responsibilities and training schedules may require careful planning to ensure minimal disruption to daily operations. There are several ways to approach this challenge, but flexible, online courses can be part of the solution.
Bridge’s language program solutions include private instruction, small group classes, and immersion, providing flexibility and instruction and authentic materials that meet individual learning and professional needs.
Companies can also provide additional support to their language learners to maximize their program’s effectiveness. Encouraging continuous learning through language resources, providing opportunities for practice through discussion groups, networking events, or language exchanges, and giving access to language support tools such as translation software and pronunciation apps can all be tools of additional support that will speed the process of language acquisition.
3. Measuring the effectiveness of the training program to determine its ROI
Investing in a language training program challenges is largely budgetary because the return on investment (ROI) can be difficult to measure. Assessing the effectiveness of an English language training program and monitoring the progress of employees can be challenging. Companies need to establish clear metrics and methods for evaluating the impact of the training on language skills development and its alignment with the company’s goals.
A good language program partner will provide data and analytics that may be used to effectively analyze all aspects of your language program. Bridge’s Language Proficiency Indicators (LPIs) dashboard provides detailed data and analyses to track learner progress, time invested in learning, and a variety of other data points, accessible online or in downloadable spreadsheets, that may be used to continually assess the program.
In addition, accurately assessing the current language proficiency levels of employees is crucial to determine the appropriate training program. Companies often struggle with evaluating the language skills of their workforce effectively, as it requires standardized assessments or qualified language experts. Bridge uses reliable and recognized tests such as Linguaskill, Versant, PTE, and TOEIC for the targeted purpose of the test taker.
4. Keeping employees engaged and motivated to continue learning over time
When employees invest in their own personal and career development, it is easier for them to stay motivated. After all, it’s their own money spent on extra lessons or certifications. However, when a company offers English language training, it could be more challenging to keep employees motivated.
One way to combat burnout is by providing consistent and effective support throughout the process, with the additional tools and opportunities for practice mentioned above. Another way to keep engagement and motivation high is to provide detailed progress tracking.
Bridge uses Pearson’s Global Scale of English (GSE) to interpret language tests, which provides detailed information on even micro-progressions in learning. Based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), the GSE uses a scale of 10-90, further breaking down six categories of language abilities. With learning objectives at every point on the scale, learners can have highly personalized pathways and see the progress they continually make as they learn.
It is worth noting that language learning is a long-term, often non-linear process. Employees may struggle to retain and apply their newly acquired English language skills in their work environment. Providing language reinforcement and opportunities for practice can help overcome this.
5. Integrating language training into existing learning and development
Many established companies offer learning and development opportunities for employees. From healthcare to aviation, English is an industry-standard, especially for customer-facing businesses. If a company also invests in an English language training program, then it’s important to integrate it within other L&D initiatives.
This is one of many reasons that a flexible learning program is so important. Bridge’s state-of-the-art learning platform combines independent learning with a teacher-centric model that provides opportunities for both engagement with learning and flexibility.
From a broader perspective, the language program’s objectives should align with L&D objectives and organizational strategy. This begins with a thorough needs assessment involving all relevant stakeholders to determine specific language skills needed for job roles and career progression, and then learning components should be incorporated into existing training programs and initiatives.
For example, if a company has onboarding programs or technical training, the program can include language modules or activities that address relevant skills within those programs.
6. Finding qualified and experienced trainers who can deliver high-quality instruction
It can be difficult to find qualified trainers who have experience in delivering Business English or English for specific purposes. The instructors should possess not only language expertise but also an understanding of the company’s industry and goals. A marketing company will require employees to have a very different vocabulary from that of a finance company.
It’s vital that companies inquire about the qualifications and experience of the trainers who will deliver the English lessons. BridgeEnglish is the corporate language training branch of Bridge Education Group, which has 40 years of experience in teacher training programs that range from foundational, professional, and specialized certifications and micro-credentials. Bridge’s corporate language training program teachers are a global community of professionals with degrees and certifications, as well as professional experiences that meet the needs of all industries.
7. Addressing the varied English levels and language aptitudes of employees
Multinational companies will have employees with different English language proficiency levels. Designing training programs that cater to the diverse needs of employees can be complex. Ideally, every company could assess individual language skills and provide personalized training, but it’s also important that training be effective for employees at all levels. Employees and management alike must come together to identify the company’s unique challenges of corporate language training.
Using the right assessments and developing individual learning goals through tools such as the GSE can help. The Bridge program uses competencies-based learning, which identifies the individual short and long-term goals of the learner and targets instruction and learning resources to meet the workplace competencies identified for the learner.
There are some language programs that claim to have found the “best” learning methodology, but with four decades in the business, Bridge knows there is no one-size-fits-all methodology. Instead, many factors must be considered to identify effective instructional practices. Effective Business English learning practices take into account individual student needs, learning styles, purpose of learning, and more. Be sure to have access to clear data and analytics on learner progress to regularly assess the effectiveness of instruction in your program.
8. Balancing the cost of training with the company’s budget
Implementing comprehensive English language training programs can be expensive. Companies need to allocate resources for hiring qualified trainers or investing in language learning software and materials. Additionally, there may be costs associated with scheduling training sessions and providing ongoing support.
To overcome these various challenges, companies can implement different strategies, such as partnering with language training providers, leveraging technology-based learning platforms, offering flexible training options, providing ongoing support and encouragement, and integrating language learning into the company culture.
One piece of advice when partnering with a language training company is to look for industry certification. Bridge is somewhat unique in its ISO 9001 certification, in that in most parts of the world, it is not a standard requirement for a language company. ISO 9001 certification is an intensive auditing process, required every three years, that is a globally-recognized standard for quality management systems. This certification demonstrates a commitment to process efficacy and continual improvement in products and service delivery.
Taking on the challenges of corporate language training
With planning, preparation, and support, your company will be ready to succeed in your English language training program. Identifying your unique needs and finding a compatible program match may sound daunting, but is well worth the time and research. Consider a program that offers a tailored approach, with immersive and intuitive technology integration.
Lastly, be sure to conduct regular assessments, seek employee feedback, and continuously adapt your training initiatives for maximum return. With these tools in hand, your employees will be ready to compete on an international stage in any industry or market. If you need more information on how to approach your firm’s unique challenges of corporate language training, contact BridgeEnglish for a consultation. Your employees are your firm’s biggest asset and greatest contribution to growth. Set your business up for expansion and your employees up for success with a single goal: integrating English language training.
Does your company have an English language training program? Read about the benefits in 8 Reasons to Invest in Language Training for Non-native Employees.