Your company is a global one, which means that your employees work with colleagues who speak a different language and come from a different culture. You know that collaboration is where it’s at these days when it comes to your business succeeding. So you’d like to help your employees gain in both language fluency and the cultural fluency of their international teammates.
You keep hearing that you need to send folks abroad and they’ll pick up everything just like that. It’s the only way to help your team become truly fluent, everybody says.
Well, “everybody” is wrong. Let me explain why.
Becoming Fluent, Wherever You Are
In a recent blog post, I debunked the idea that fluency happens automatically when you plop someone down in the middle of another country. International relocations, or even training abroad, can be a valuable tool for building language fluency in your team members. However, it takes some careful thought and planning to help employees integrate into the new culture and not just spend all their time with others who speak their native language.
But what if relocations don’t make sense for your company right now, or you don’t have the resources to give international experience to as many employees as you would like? Are you doomed to a future of misunderstandings and stilted collaboration?
Definitely not! Relocations and international training are far from the only tools for building language and cultural fluency.
We’ve received tremendous feedback from clients about onsite and online language lessons that have the following features:
- They’re taught by native speakers. You don’t truly learn a language from textbooks or study materials. You learn it from native speakers who can give you the inside scoop on how a language is really spoken — from slang to idioms to regionalisms. Working or studying abroad gives you access to native speakers. (Or at least it’s supposed to. Again, it’s all too tempting to insulate yourself with people who speak your language.) But you don’t have to leave home to learn a language from native speakers, especially now that we can all take advantage of online learning.
- They immerse learners in the culture. Another key to learning a new language is surrounding yourself with the accompanying culture — movies, TV shows, magazines, you name it. This approach has all kinds of advantages. You get a sense of how the language is spoken in daily life. You better understand people from the culture you’re studying. And you’re just more motivated when your language skills open the door to new, fun stuff. Of course, being in another country plunges you into its culture (if you leave your bubble). But it’s also easier than ever to bring a different culture to you.
- They’re based on real life. Remember taking language classes in high school or college and learning a bunch of super-random phrases? That wasn’t very motivating, was it? At Fluency, we take a different approach: focusing our language instruction on the words and phrases you actually need to do your job. Let’s say, for example, you’re frequently on Skype calls with colleagues from another country. We can give you the knowledge you need to make those calls more effective, from language skills to insights on cultural differences that might be impeding communication. We find ways to help you better collaborate with your international colleagues, even if you never get the chance to meet them in person.
Learn About Your Options
By no means am I suggesting that you avoid international relocations and international training. If you have the resources and you can take steps to ensure that your programs help your employees truly become part of another culture, then go for it. But I do want to expand your thinking on what you can do to help your employees build cultural and language fluency. To learn more about how Fluency Corp has helped companies like yours, please contact us for a free consultation.