Corporate Language Training: How to Ensure Certification Equals Competency

Supporting your employees in learning a second language equips them with the skills they need to thrive in a global market. It will enable your workforce to enter new markets and effectively interact with potential clients and colleagues. Second language learning does more than just bolster an employee’s CV. Being bilingual has been shown to boost memory and build decision-making skills, too.

When rolling out a language training program, an HR manager must ensure that staff is actually competent in a language, and not merely going through the motions to pass tests and obtain their certification. The best way to nurture competency is by prompting extension activities beyond the classroom learning.

Speexx White Papers

Organize Conversation Groups

If participants work in the same office, encourage them to set up after-class conversation groups. To promote engagement these events could be held in a fun location, such as a restaurant that serves the ethnic food associated with the language being learned.

If participants are spread out among office locations encourage them to explore MeetUps in their area to find a local language group. Not only will participating in a conversation group improve their language skills, but they may also make some new connections along the way.

Practicing writing and conversation skills with a personal coach is another excellent way to hone language skills. With Speexx, each participant is assigned a coach who supports their learning and development.

Supply Resources to Extend Learning

Connect learners to resources that they can work with outside the learning program. Provide a list of language-specific books, websites or blogs in your industry, newspapers or radio stations. Encourage participants to watch popular movies in the language being learned along with subtitles in their native language. These activities won’t only increase language exposure, but will also help build participants’ cultural understanding. If resources are available, you may want to consider running meetings in the language participants are learning.

Encourage Participants to Teach Others

Teaching is an excellent reinforcing activity for a learner. Challenge the participants to share what they learned with another person. It could be as simple as debriefing their spouse or partner on the learning session or teaching their child a few vocabulary terms. Leave time for peer-to-peer interaction and teaching within the classroom sessions as well. Teaching job-related language to a coworker could also help reinforce their learning and in turn, help their colleagues improve their own job performance.

Promote Internal Written Communications

If participants of the learning program work together on a project, encourage them to send and receive their e-mail communications in the common language they are learning. If they don’t know each word they need to compose their work-related message they can use Google Translate to fill in the gaps. The reader could do the same if they aren’t able to decipher the e-mail’s contents. This will give both employees practice translating from their native tongue to the new language when writing and reading.

Building Language Competency: Best Practices

Learning a second language has ample benefits for both employee and employer. However, true language competency is a key success indicator of any language training program. HR managers can promote competency by helping participants apply what they’ve learned outside of the learning environment. Encouraging conversation groups, written exchanges and the exploration of reading and listening materials are all excellent ways to help build language competency.

When you’re investing in language training for your employees, you want to make sure that everyone is getting the most out of the experience. For the best results, develop strategies to ensure learners are using their new skills in a variety of ways, not just in a classroom setting. Learning should be a mix between instruction, discovery and testing. Having a standardized assessment program will help pre-assess language skills and later, confirm that learners have made the desired progress towards their language goals. A Blended Learning solution like Speexx will have many of these features built right into the program.

For more on getting the most out of workforce training projects, download our white paper on bridging the gap between technology and commitment to workforce learning needs.

Photo: Startup Stock Photos

About the Author:

Beate Gallist is Head of Product Management at Speexx. In this role, Beate coordinates the developer team and she is directly involved in designing and creating new learner tools and next generation features for all Speexx solutions.