Why Language Training, Coupled with Assimilation Support, is Just Better
In business, effective communication is essential. When merging a business into a new market in a new country, miscommunication and failed relocations can cost the company hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost productivity, turnover, and leadership members quitting their roles in the new area.
When ProlecGE expanded from Mexico into Brazil, eight employees and their families moved to South America to get their new merger aligned with the company’s goals. Without Fluency Corp providing language training and assimilation assistance, it might not have been as successful.
The company decided to send Ernesto A.D.P. and several other employees – with their families – to establish the new branch within five years.
Ernesto oversees the financials and commercial sales while modifying the existing financial plan to fit Prolec’s corporate structure. There was only one problem: Ernesto, nor any other transitioning employees, spoke Portuguese.
Global Leadership was Causing Division in the Teams
Before Prolec came along, this local company had been managed by another globally based-company. That former parent company had a management team that all communicated in their own native language.
There was a problem, though.
The local workforce speaks just one language: Portuguese. How does a management team communicate with the workforce when they have a language barrier? How does the work effectively get completed?
It doesn’t, without major challenges and obstacles. There was such a discrepancy that the company went through major struggles. To the point where it was no longer looking to be profitable and sold to Prolec.
The new management took an entirely different approach to the local workforce. Instead of showing up and asking the local workforce to learn Spanish, they learned Portuguese.
Disparity Widens between Warehouse and Office Employees
Have you ever attended a work gathering and just felt like you didn’t fit in? Those events are designed for everyone to get to know everyone, but you just hang out with your close co-workers. Imagine if the management was at that barbeque or get-together and spoke a different language than you did. The isolation would be tangible!
In Brazil, many of those working in the factory only speak Portuguese. Because the management teams can speak the same language, it removes that barrier and puts everyone on the same level. Now all positions can interact because language barriers are significantly lessened.
That is because there is more to Fluency Corp than just knowing the language. Because Ernesto, and the other families, had local teachers, they learned the culture, the idioms, and the dialect.
In addition, their training included how to act professionally while in Brazil. Not to mention, helping them connect with their community, new schools for the kids, neighbors, and answering any questions about local utilities, customs and more.
Management isn’t the same around the world. In many countries, it’s much more formal; suits and ties are expected, and a formal manner of speaking is required. Brazil is a much more laid-back country.
Professional dialogue includes a lot of social banter, slang, and a more casual approach.
Without language training with Fluency Corp’s Bellieu Method (keep reading, we’ll fill you in on how that works), Ernesto would have approached business and work parties with a Mexican business approach. It might have been off-putting to Brazilian employees and could have created disparity between the two groups.
But the assimilation support from the language coach helped Ernesto learn not just the right words, but the right actions.
Because he knows how to speak the language and fit into the local culture, he can build better relationships. Those relationships lead to a smoother and more efficient workplace. When the workers are happy, there is less turnover, greater productivity, and job satisfaction increases.
“We may not be entirely fluent yet,” Ernesto admits, “but we can communicate and talk about what they like to talk about.”
This merger, Ernesto believes, will be successful because previous ownership never spoke with the local employees in Portuguese, and there was always a strain between management and those on the ground.
Why Language Training Along with Assimilation is Incredibly Effective
Long before they even transitioned to South America, Prolec enlisted the help of Fluency Corp to train the employees not just what to say, but how to communicate.
Fluency Corp learned about where Ernesto and the other employees would live. Using a worldwide network, local teachers were hired to deliver the lessons. These teachers typically lived within 10 miles of where the employees were moving to. This created a closeness, and they could talk about local topics.
These teachers met with students twice each week for one and a half hours at a time. These lessons weren’t anything like you might experience in an academic language setting, though. Instead, they’re customized to the individual and the local culture.
Ernesto’s teacher grew up in the city that he now calls home. The teacher knows the people, the best restaurants, the dialect, and the colloquialisms.
Using that cultural awareness, the teacher showed Ernesto which radio station to listen to, and developed language lessons around what that station talks about. Some classes would focus on grammar and becoming more fluent and then switch focus to reading books in Portuguese.
After a few book lessons, they would again change focus and revolve around local television shows, podcasts, or other entertainment available only in Portuguese.
By immersing himself in these culturally specific media, Ernesto learned how to speak and (perhaps more importantly) what to speak of. They also role played business situations, and prepared for meetings beforehand.
“There are two soccer teams in this city.” He explains, “Half the city likes one team, the other half likes the other team. Without a culturally immersive language program, how would you ever learn about the teams and how to talk about them? You wouldn’t.” This is where assimilation comes in, and ensures that you feel like you are at home in the new country.
How Fluency Corp Worked with Prolec to Reduce Turnover and Save Money
Language and grammar are important. Any book, app, or program can teach you the proper spelling and sentence structure.
A language class can even help you speak the language.
There is, however, a big difference between speaking and feeling at home. There are so many dialects and cultural idiosyncrasies throughout a country that just knowing how to put a sentence together will limit your ability to truly become a part of the new city.
Long before Fluency Corp was established, founder Micah Bellieu studied languages in an academic setting. For eight years, she took Spanish classes, learning how to conjugate verbs, understand the tenses, and create sentences.
On a trip to Spain, she quickly discovered that knowing grammar rules does not give you fluency or the confidence to speak. She wondered, “What’s the point of putting so much effort into studying a language if I can’t even understand that language or connect with others?”
This led to an idea. Use local teachers to not only teach vocabulary and sentence structure, but also to teach how to use that language in a particular location. It had to go a bit deeper than just that, though. In order for the relocation to be a success, they needed to meet others, feel comfortable, and have a sense of belonging.
Thus, the Bellieu Method was developed. It is a 100% customized training that helps you learn the language to communicate effectively in your environment, so that you can connect with others, be successful at work, and understand the norms around you in your new world.
Fluency Corp and Your Business
Fluency Corp works with every language, in every country, and all around the world. So if you call Micah and her team, and ask for an obscure location, she will say, “give me a few weeks, and we will have a teacher ready for you.”
Then, lessons will involve watching how you speak in meetings—analyzing your speaking style, recommending shows, podcasts, and books, and helping you become fluent in the language and community where you will be immersed.
Moving families to another country is a big investment for a company. Without language and assimilation support, those moves can fail, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Fluency Corp’s training brings about better integration, and companies see more success with this customized immersion-style training.