We get a lot of questions from companies that are considering English language classes for their employees. We know that choosing whether to offer training and selecting a firm to provide it are big decisions. To make the whole process easier for you, we collected and answered some of the most frequently asked questions about English language training.
Who should study English as a Second Language?
Since English is the global lingua franca of business, just about anyone would benefit from developing their ability to do business in English. But English language training is especially important for the following groups of employees:
- Those who are relocating to an English-speaking country.
- Those who collaborate regularly with English speakers, whether in person or remotely.
- Global leaders in your company.
Do employees who studied English in school still need English training on the job?
While these employees are benefiting from the English skills they already have, company-provided training can bolster their job performance even more. English classes during their school days probably did not give them the specific vocabulary they need for their jobs. It’s also unlikely that they built enough fluency to feel fully at ease working with native English speakers, who will speak more rapidly than your employees are used to and have an accent they likely have never heard. You can even customize the training you offer so that your employees learn the specific idioms and slang used by the English speakers they work with.
What results can we expect from English classes, and when will we see them?
After English training, employees often become more confident about sharing their ideas, which increases their value to your company. They also become better collaborators. Language training enhances team cohesion and reduces misunderstanding. If you are offering language training for expat employees, you increase the odds that their relocation will be happy and successful.
While building fluency is a process that happens over time, improvements start happening sooner than you might imagine. Our students show measurable improvement with two hours per week of one-on-one training, and managers report noticeable language skills improvement within just 10 hours of training.
Can’t we just use software to help our employees learn English?
While we support any effort to offer corporate language training, we also have to caution you that there’s simply no comparison between learning English from software and learning it from a real, live instructor. Working with an instructor mirrors the way we acquired our first language: imitating and interacting with native speakers. Language students who learn from an instructor are also more accountable, supported and emotionally invested, not to mention, they can ask questions relevant to their job and get customized lessons that make every minute count towards improving communication at work.
What are the most important things to consider when choosing an English language training provider?
First, ask questions about the company’s instructors. The best instructors are native English speakers who have experience with teaching adult professionals. It’s also a plus if they are TEFL certified (but not a deal-breaker if they aren’t). Years of experience teaching is more important than a certificate!
Next, learn what the trainer’s classes are like. You want your employees to get a lot of speaking experience any time they meet with their instructor. Around 70 percent of class time should be devoted to speaking – not lectures, but rather the student should be speaking 70%. This speaking practice should include role-playing conversations they’re likely to have in English at work and outside the office. Speaking practice should not be vocabulary drills.
How can we help employees who are studying English learn faster?
Your support can make a big difference! If your English learners are expat employees, start a buddy system that pairs every student with a colleague who’s a native English speaker. Work buddies can help give your English learners additional conversation practice. They can also become guides to the local culture by doing everything from explaining regional idioms to giving advice on schools, shopping and other services. Grabbing lunch once a week will make a HUGE difference.
We hope this guide addressed your questions about corporate English language training. Wondering about something we didn’t cover? Get in touch with us: [email protected] or (800) 401-3159. We also offer a free consultation to talk more about your company’s specific needs.