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Issues of Global Corporate English – Part II


PART II - Issues of Global Corporate English

Typical measures taken by corporations to address English language training

In order to introduce English and to train up their personnel, most companies adopt a similar approach.

Conventional English classes are offered.

Conventional instruction is often not very effective, since:

– they often have no direct relevance to on-the-jobs issues

– many people simply do not function well in a “class room” environment

– Instruction takes place too infrequently: typically 1.5 to 4.5 hours a week

External providers are sought and chosen very often on the basis of cost and convenience.

The low-cost provider is often not the best provider.

– Low cost providers hire low cost trainers.

– Low cost providers either provide only standard instruction.

– Tailoring English training to a employee‘s or organization‘s needs takes time and money.

– Effective trainers need to have at least some sense for the business issues affecting their students. Such trainers are not always easily found.

HR / Personnel is made responsible for foreign language training

HR is often lacks the skills or knowledge for effectively guiding a foreign language training program.

– Foreign language training is unlike any other kind of learning.

HR has many other priorities.

HR – or whatever other organization is responsible

– fails to provide an effective plan for developing those resources who most need to improve their language skills.

– does not effectively or consistently measure the progress or efficacy of language training.

Language instruction is a low schedule priority

It is somehow something “extra” that should in no way take the employee away from his job for “too long”.

If foreign language skill is not a truly corporate priority, why introduce English at all (other than at a high level)?

– The low priority of language training is communicated to employees.

– Employees do not treat the training as part of their job.

– Language training is something “extra” that the company provides out of the good of its heart.

Prerequisites for making English a practical and effective means of corporate communication

A corporation must decide whether it is serious about what it states.

Is making English the effective corporate language really a corporate priority?

There are obvious reasons for answering “yes”.

Then a corporation should “put its money where its mouth is”.

Learning, improving, using English effectively must be treated as an important part of an employee‘s job.

A corporation must, in effect, first “talk the talk”, e.g. 

All newsletters and other country-wide / corporate wide communication should be composed in English.

A vocabulary / phrase list providing native language translation can transform such communications into an English learning tool.

All internal assessment documents, tools, office software versions should be in English.

Tutorials can be offered explaining, e.g., that “Save as…” means (e.g. in German) “Speichern unter…”

Other measures can be taken in the short term.

The important thing is communicating that:

– the company is serious about this, and

– that English is an important part of the job.

After “talking the talk”, a corporation must then “walk the walk”.

Provide effective, practical English training that is geared to the needs of each team, department and organization.

– Training should be based directly on current issue, initiatives, presentations relevant to the organization‘s daily work (more about this later).

– Training should be effectively integrated into an organization‘s work day.

Make the demonstration of English skills part of an employee‘s performance review process.

– Tie performance bonuses and promotions to an employee‘s English communication abilities.

– Provide intensive training (40-50 / week) to employees who need be effective abroad within a short time (e.g., engineers).

This costs money, yes... but if someone is needed abroad, the cost should be worth it.

I will say more about intensive training in Part III.

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