How to Help Your Employees Learn English

Samantha Ruff
March 31, 2020 ·
7 min read
How-to

You may have noticed that the international language of business is English.

You may also have noticed that putting together diverse teams consisting of a multitude of backgrounds and cultures can add incredible value to the creativity and output of an organization.

But that creates a fundamental skill gap: language.

Hiring only those people who speak English (either natively, or as a proficient second language) limits the pool from which you can recruit from, and this is never desirable. Approximately 1.5 billion of the world’s population can speak English, but that leaves an incredible 6 billion, or 80%, that don’t

Among those 1.5 billion, less than 30% are native English speakers, meaning there is potential for errors in the communication of the others (and that’s not even taking into consideration the fact that far from all native speakers produce the language without errors).

So, where does this leave us? In a situation where, in order to get the best people for the job, there may be a language barrier. An English language barrier to be precise.

In summary, upskilling your staff in English becomes a priority. Here’s how you can do it:

Provide in-house training

This may be the classic way of delivering training, but that is because it is so effective. It is, however, rarely convenient. It requires all necessary learners to be available and in the same location at the same time, which within a bust work environment can be nigh on impossible to achieve. Trainers can come onto your company’s premises, and even tailor the training to your staff’s exact needs, but you still have to provide time for your employees to be there, and that can be easier said than done.

Provide online training

If flexibility and cost-efficiency is what you require from your training intervention, then online training is a great option. Classes can be live, or delivered through webinars that your employees log into at a time that is convenient for them. There are some great online learning solutions for English, such as that delivered by AllTalk Training, where employees get a chance to have one-to-one or group training sessions with native English-speaking trainers.

There are also online courses that track progress and which employees can revert back to whenever they have time, and of course can be accessed remotely as well as in the office.

Provide access to writing tools

Web and mobile-based writing tools have been available for some time, but like pretty much everything else tech-related, they have got smarter, easier to use, and more efficient.

The great thing about using a content writing tool, such as Linguix, is that it will simultaneously help the employee to produce error-free and suitable content in English, and improve their understanding and proficiency in using the language (unlike translation apps, as we will see).

Linguix is far from a spellchecker. Not only does its editor tool assist in correcting grammatical oversights, but it helps you tailor the content to the correct audience, taking style into consideration. It’s dictionary tool offers definitions and synonyms of any word found online, and it also offers a content template library by which writers can select a suitable template to help them get started.

Linguix not only assists those who don’t speak (or write) English well, but makes better writers out of all employees, and works beautifully within the realms of remote work practices, which will continue to become more prevalent.

Provide translation tools

Tools in the area of translation arena getting better all the time, meaning that complete ideas can be converted from one language into another almost instantly, and with a pretty decent accuracy that was unattainable not so long ago. There are an eye-watering number of options available, from the well-known Google Translate and Linguee, to new, up-and-coming offerings that increasingly rely on AI and machine-learning developments in the tech sector.

But let us be clear here: translation tools almost never improve the English ability of the individual. Why would they? They are a means to an end, and this really is a example of a machine doing a job that means that the human doesn’t have to.

Translation apps might work in the short term, but are not a long-term solution to your staff’s English needs.

Train your English-speaking staff to communicate more effectively with the non-natives

Here’s another idea, and one that can be incredibly effective in the short-term. Why not train you English-speaking staff, particularly managers, to be able to communicate more effectively with staff whose English is far from proficient?

Think about it. It could take months, if not years for an employee to get up to a native level of English. However, often just a couple of training sessions with the native can equip him or her with the knowledge and skill to tailor their language in a way that the non-native employee can understand and respond to. The result is more efficient communication practices within a matter of hours.

This solution, called cross-cultural communication training, is provided by AllTalk Training.

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