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Panos Kraniotis

Rosetta Stone

Regional Director, Europe

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Get ahead with language training in 2017


As we head into 2017, many companies are forming training and development plans designed to equip employees with the skills they need to meet business objectives. Typically training includes a focus on leadership, coaching and negotiation…but should you also be thinking about a company-wide plan for language learning?  Without one, businesses looking to grow market share in a competitive global market could find themselves falling behind.

Brexit and all that

2016 was a year of immense political upheaval and economic uncertainty. The future competitive trading position of Britain in Europe is still unclear but it’s no exaggeration to say that UK companies have long-since put themselves at a disadvantage in Europe, perhaps without realising it. It’s a disadvantage that comes from a lack of language skills.

Mark Herbert at the British Council summed it up nicely. He cited the estimated, “tens of billions in missed trade and business opportunities every year,” resulting from the UK’s language skills shortage.

It’s a shortfall that businesses need to address and by doing so, they can expect to see significant results. Employees that are proficient in more than one language often gain more satisfaction at work through enhanced working relationships they have with customers, prospects, suppliers and colleagues. This all translates to a positive impact on your company’s bottom line.

An improvement in business communication means richer interactions which can result in better sales opportunities and a higher rate of performance. When an employee has regular interactions in multiple languages, on-going training that builds their skills will help them to feel more confident, to achieve more day-to-day and can even open up new career opportunities for them within the company.

Training for today’s workplace

Language learning today can be a very different experience to the one many would remember from school. While classroom-based learning has its benefits, it also has some clear drawbacks as a standalone method for many businesses. Firstly, it can be very difficult to align learner schedules, especially when employees are spread out geographically, to get them all together in the same place on a regular basis for training. Face-to-face training limits class participation to employees who are geographically close and the content and delivery doesn’t easily adapt to suit the learning styles and proficiency level of each learner.

Digital learning addresses many of these challenges. It is easily made available to employees regardless of location and geographical spread, learners can set a training schedule around their work commitments that suits them, and content can adapt to the individual for a more personalized experience.

As digital learning becomes increasingly sophisticated, desirable features to look out for in a corporate training package include:

  1. Adaptive learning – the more personalised and tailored the content is to each learner, the better results they’ll achieve In addition to varying the speed of delivery and level of repetition to maximise learning outcomes, highly adaptive programs will assess each learner at the start of the course and assign them to an appropriate learning path. In this way, the learner has a training experience suited to their proficiency level instead of one which adopts a ‘one size fits all’ approach.
  2. Mobile learning – technology has broken down many barriers when it comes to where and when learning takes place. Many businesses whose employees don’t work solely from one location prefer learners to have access to flexible training that they can do from anywhere. Digital learning solutions that synchronise content give learners access to the full functionality via whichever device they’re using, be it their phone, tablet or desktop.
  3. Return on investment – pressure is always on management and training leaders to measure and report on the success of training initiatives. After all, training is a considerable investment of time and funds; it needs to demonstrably contribute to the company achieving its objectives. Administrators will want to look for programs that track performance, proficiency gains, and training usage across learners, teams, geographies and languages. With a company-wide, centrally managed digital training solution, this level of insight can be achieved
  4. Industry specific content - industry-specific content can maximise the benefits that language training brings to the workplace, helping learners engage with content that fits with their everyday work. This makes a lot of sense for enterprise training as employees will feel much more comfortable communicating in a second language about matters specific to the industry they work in if they have covered common terms in their training
  5. Practice speaking- look for programs that have speech recognition technology built in, allowing learners to receive immediate feedback on their pronunciation. Speech-recognition within all activities helps employees perfect pronunciation and raises their confidence to have conversations in real-life. Good digital learning solutions will have these features that stimulate active knowledge acquisition.

The benefits of implementing digital language learning programs in the workplace are many, and can help UK businesses close the communications skills gap they may face. By doing so, they can aim to raise productivity and employee job satisfaction, and improve interactions with customers and suppliers to ultimately support growth objectives in 2017.

Author Profile Picture
Panos Kraniotis

Regional Director, Europe

Read more from Panos Kraniotis

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