Why language learning will be top of the corporate agenda in 2018

Panos Kraniotis tells us why language learning is more important than ever in 2018. 

Reading time: 5 minutes.

With 2018 ahead of us, many companies are forming training and development plans designed to equip employees with the skills they need to meet this year’s business objectives. Typically, training includes a focus on leadership, coaching and negotiation, but with Brexit looming, language learning needs to make its way up the corporate agenda.

UK businesses, striving for a stable foothold in a changing political climate, face growing competition and will find themselves at a competitive disadvantage if they lack language skills in their workforce.

Language learning was already an integral element for international businesses, but now the UK will need to prioritise language learning as they potentially work with more international clientele and suppliers. Being able to converse with customers, suppliers and other stakeholders in their language of choice will yield more fulfilling and productive conversations, and ultimately relationships.

Ultimately, being able to communicate in the same language builds trust and strengthens working relationships to the benefit of both the employee – who gets more satisfaction out of the successful communication – and the company, which translates this success into results.

Being able to converse with customers, suppliers and other stakeholders in their language of choice will yield more fulfilling and productive conversations, and ultimately relationships.

As companies initiate their 2018 training plans, it’s time for them to take a fresh look at language learning for the following five reasons: 

Language learning will become an integral part of a company’s corporate strategy

Businesses buy and sell internationally, yet many UK companies don’t underpin global expansion plans with employee training in other languages. This can impact businesses in a range of ways. International negotiations can be hampered and team collaboration across borders can be less effective.

All this can have a direct impact on building successful working relationships, securing and growing business, and operating efficiently.

As an integral part of company strategy, language learning programmes can help employees more effectively engage with suppliers, customers and co-workers in their own language, resulting in more productive conversations and – in many cases – more successful outcomes. 

Organisations will provide a more personalised, adaptive learning experience based on learners’ proficiency and goals

Every learner embarks on training from their own starting point. Some will be complete beginners, while others will have prior knowledge; some will have had no exposure to the subject, while others will be able to draw on previous experience.

Companies that provide a personalised, adaptive learning experience recognise and embrace these different starting points. This makes for more efficient and effective learning because the more personalised and tailored training is to each learner, the better results that will be achieved.

Highly adaptive digital-based learning can assess employees 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 them; one that capitalises on their prior training and experience and is targeted at achieving their particular goals.

Virtual and blended learning will dominate language learning

Today’s language training can be a very different experience to the one many remember from school. Traditional class-based learning has its benefits, but it also has some clear drawbacks when it’s the only approach adopted by business.

For starters, it can be next to impossible to get learners together in the same place on a regular basis for training, especially when employees are based in offices all around the world. Face-to-face training limits class participation to employees who are geographically close, and this is often not the case.

Not only that, but classroom-based learning tends to adopt a ‘one size fits all’ delivery model, with the tutor setting the pace and attendees working through a set syllabus.

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For these two reasons – flexibility of access and adaptability of pace and content – digital-based learning, delivered through virtual, online training and blended learning, which combines elearning with face-to-face training, will dominate the future learning agenda.

Self-paced language learning will become more common as learners choose to take control of their own personal development

Increasingly, employees are taking control of their own personal development and value being supported in learning at their own pace and around their existing commitments.

You need training that can go with the learner. E-learning language programmes allow employees to train wherever and whenever it suits them, fitting this in around existing commitments. Training can be undertaken in the office, at home or when out at other work locations by accessing synchronised training modules on mobile devices.

Targeted learning paths that adapt to individual learning styles can deliver a learning experience that progresses at a pace that suits each individual.

As millennials place greater importance on experience and skills, they will continue to drive a transformation in workplace language learning

Millennials understand the value of their own personal profile and portfolio of skills and experience and want to work for companies that invest in them and their ongoing development. In fact, 87% of millennials rate ‘professional or career growth and development opportunities’ as important to them in a job, according to Gallup

The millennial approach to work and continuing professional development is a motivation to companies to review their strategies around employee development. Understanding the outlook of millennials is central to companies’ strategies for attracting and retaining the best talent.

In today’s global – and increasingly competitive – marketplace the drive for language skills has never been more relevant. In 2018, language skills will grow in importance as part of corporate learning and development strategies and digital-based delivery will increasingly help companies achieve their language training goals. 


About the author

Panos Kraniotis is regional director EMEA at Rosetta Stone


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