Updated: Nov 2, 2019
What kind of language training is offered in your company? 1 hour a week of individual lessons with a teacher? Telephone lessons? E-learning? How many of you have taken English classes where you talked about your weekend or about a magazine article, or did some grammar exercises, and realised that after a while you were no longer making progress?
Training budgets and CPF funds are limited. Your language training needs to be efficient and actually help you do your job better. As a small English organisme de formation, the biggest demand I have is for one-on-one training using the CPF, which, because of budget restrictions, is getting harder and harder to offer.
s this really the most efficient use of training budget anyway? How much progress can you really make like this and will it improve your ability to do your job?
The answer is, it depends…
What do you need to actually do in English? Talking about your weekend is one thing, but when you are making presentations to a group of buyers, or participating in weekly conference calls, or attending conferences, a totally different level of language and knowledge is needed. Even if you only use English to send emails or talk to clients, you should be practising those things in your training. Look for training that focusses on identifying and working on the real needs of the participants.
Motivation: This has one of the greatest effects on the success of language learning. You have probably heard about the different between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Instrinsic motivation comes from inside: learning is personally rewarding. For example, I love learning languages because I love being able to communicate with people in their own language. Extrinsic motivation is often related to what you have to do for your job, or to pass a required test. Research has shown that learners are more successful when they are instrinsically motivated. No one can make your employees instrinsically motivated, but it’s worth knowing that forcing people to learn English for their job is usually not successful. On the other hand, employees who ask for language training and have several good reasons for wanting this training usually become successful learners. This leads me to…
Goals: Having a clear SMART goal can make language learning much more efficient. “I want to speak better” is very vague. “I want to give my opinion on my next conference call” is much more precise. The trainer should be working with the learner to set and achieve goals all throughout the training.
Hours of exposure & effort: Also related to motivation. One hour a week of training is usually not enough. If outside of that hour, you are using what you have learnt (consciously! I will be writing more on conscious learning later), you can make progress. If exposure to English outside of the lesson is minimal, progress will be minimal. I recommend following some e-learning as a complement to face-to-face sessions. Again, this requires learner motivation, but f done correctly, it can pay dividends, Two of my clients are making huge progress using Gymglish every day.
Follow-up: I recently read an article that compared training without follow-up to throwing spaghetti at a wall and seeing which pieces stick! Doing a 2-day workshop on presentation skills in English is great, but without follow-up, how much are participants going to remember and implement? Likewise for general language training: someone can make good progress but then if they don’t do anything for the next year, how much will be lost?
Teacher & method: Engaging a big training organisation to do your language training is a lottery. Did you know that companies, even those who claim to only have the highest-quality teachers, often haven’t even met those teachers? Plus the rate of pay is often very low, meaning the quality of your teachers is not guaranteed. Ask around in your network for recommendations and look for independent trainers and small training organisations. All trainers should be doing their own professional development: find out if this is the case. Ask about the method and check that participants are going to be actively using the language, and not filling in the gaps in grammar sheets.
Individual or group? Many clients don’t want group classes as they think they won’t have the opportunity to speak, or that they’ll learn mistakes from the other members. It’s highly unlikely you’ll learn new mistakes from other groups members, and a good trainer will ensure that everyone gets to speak. Of course you should be looking for a small group, but anything up to 8 people ensure adequate speaking time with the trainer and plenty of different permutations of group work. Group work is often better for certain kinds of training as you need to recreate group interaction.
English is vital for so many people in their work today. Often the people affected are those who have not used English in their work in the past, or who don’t have a particularly high level, which means they struggle in conference calls.
Don't waste your CPF budget: you can choose your own training now, make sure it's the right training for you.