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Donavan Whyte

Rosetta Stone

Vice President, International Enterprise & Education

Read more from Donavan Whyte

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Meeting the need for language skills


Through language skills businesses can reap the benefits of improved interaction with customers, suppliers, partners and among their own globally dispersed workforce.

As companies expand internationally the need to upskill their workforce to communicate in more than one language grows. Nurturing language skills in the sales force equips them to have more satisfying customer conversations. Communication within the company is more rewarding when languages are shared.

We talked to executives responsible for language training in large enterprises in Britain and Germany. The results reveal the need for language skills and the skills gap that currently exists. Nearly nine in ten (87%) said more than one critical language is in use in their organisation; 79% said through languages relations are improved with customers and 72% that sales opportunities increase.

Yet nearly two-thirds (63%) said improvement was needed in languages in their own company and 70% that language skills aren’t currently taught to a standard sufficient for multi-national organisations. You can review the full research outcomes on our website.

It would seem there is an acknowledged skills gap and companies can consider a range of training methods to address it. These include face to face, on the job training and computer-based (e-)learning programmes.


With teams often dispersed and regularly moving around to work from different locations including home, e-learning provides a flexible training solution for many businesses. It can be provided remotely to large numbers of people, the training it delivers across groups is consistent and it gives employees the freedom to choose when they take their training time and where. Programmes where content synchronises give learners access to the full programme functionality whichever device they’re using.

We found that the benefits of an e-learning approach are recognised. Over half of our respondents cited lower costs (59%) and faster delivery (52%).  

Engaging employees in ongoing learning is a challenge when they constantly face the pressure of deadlines and targets. L&D departments need programmes that can be consistently rolled out across multiple sites and that enable them to measure take-up, completion rates and the programme’s level of success. The programme needs to capture the interest and imagination of employees for them to stick with it.

E-learning programmes that incorporate a range of content – videos, exercises and practical knowledge application – should present lessons in a fun and motivating way. A high level of interaction is especially important when learning a language through an e-learning programme. Pronunciation can be compared against a database of native speaking voices, allowing for feedback to the learner that is really well informed and helps them develop their ‘voice’ in true-life situations. Computer-based learning doesn’t mean human to human interaction is excluded either; live online tutoring sessions with native speaking tutors are an ideal way to practise.

Through measurement and reporting tools, the central L&D team should be able to assess the progress of the training rollout and its relative success among employees and against business goals. In our survey two-thirds (66%) of respondents said the future of language learning lies in e-learning.  

Employees who engage with their language training at work may develop a passion for it and continue to explore it outside the workplace. With apps on phones and other portable online devices, training isn’t tied to the office and can be continued in a practical way as employees travel for work or pleasure.

The possibilities such tools offer for personalisation, interaction and engagement can deliver an all-round learning experience. This should be rewarding to the learner and the business may hope to reap the rewards of its employees’ improved skills.

For further information please review the online summaries of Rosetta Stone’s research into Business Value in Languages and E-learning.   

Author Profile Picture
Donavan Whyte

Vice President, International Enterprise & Education

Read more from Donavan Whyte

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