As technology rapidly advances, collaboration across borders is on the rise, and business is becoming increasingly global. Amid all these changes, more and more companies are recognizing the need for language training for their executives.
Today’s business executives may find themselves leading workforces made up of employees from different countries. Understanding the languages and the cultures of all of their employees helps business leaders form genuine connections, collaborate more effectively, recognize needs, build loyalty and earn the trust of their workers.
An example of a company that really gets the importance of language training for business is Fluency Corp client Envoy Air. With more than 16,000 employees, Envoy is a wholly owned subsidiary of American Airlines Group. The company is based in Irving, Texas — which is near Fluency Corp’s home city of Dallas.
A large percentage of Envoy Air’s employees in California, Texas and Florida are native Spanish speakers. Because of this, the company knew there would be business benefits from executives learning Spanish. In addition, Envoy wanted its leaders to better understand the culture of the different countries that its Spanish-speaking employees are originally from.
Envoy enlisted Fluency Corp to provide two hours a week of instruction for 10 top executives over one year. With this amount of instruction, the goal was that the executives would develop a beginner’s level proficiency in Spanish. In other words, they would be able to use and understand basic, everyday phrases.
As always, Fluency Corp customizes our language instruction based on the needs of our clients. We asked the executives what they wanted to know how to say, what topics they wanted to cover and what specific conversations they wanted to have with employees. From their responses, we learned that executives wanted to be able to talk with employees about topics such as their families and how long they have worked for the company. They wanted to be able to exchange opening and closing greetings with employees, share pleasantries and order lunch with them. Each executive also had individual needs.
Fluency Corp’s instructor, a native Spanish speaker, created a one-year course for the Envoy executives. To address all of their specific needs, the course was designed to cover 10 topics for 10 hours each.
The Envoy executives were focused on speaking with their employees, and that takes plenty of speaking practice. Fluency Corp’s instruction focused on speaking games, role-play and re-creating interactions the executives would really have on the job. Every minute they spent in class was designed to be relevant to their day-to-day interactions with employees.
Envoy is already thrilled at the executives’ new confidence and proficiency when using everyday Spanish phrases. The executives are conveying that they recognize and care about the fact that many employees speak Spanish as a first language. They are bridging the gap in a really tangible way that allows everyone to respect each other and build collaborations that lead to long-term career loyalty.
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