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?
• 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