The importance of language training for international organisations


In a rapidly growing marketplace, where more and more work is being sought for from global teams or providers. Taking a proactive approach to global mobility is crucial. Regardless of the country that you’re operating in, investing in languages not only helps you in interacting overseas, it assists with other areas of corporate life, such as business development, employee engagement, talent retention, productivity, and loyalty. 

Despite this, many businesses are still lagging behind. In a recent study by Ernst & Young, only 25% reported having a global mobility strategy. A well-structured language course can propel even the most complex strategies to success, helping companies to globalise their operations, while allowing employees and organisations to more effectively work with clients abroad - the same even for companies that already have a business presence overseas. 

Being proactive in language training is an obvious first step in improving your international coverage. In this post, we’ll show you how in-company language training supports international trade, accelerating your company reach and bottom line.

Negotiating with foreign clients

If your oganisation trades regularly with other countries, supporting team members with the language skills they'll need to to negotiate in a foreign language is a win. Although clients might not necessarily expect it, making the effort will enhance your reputation - demonstrating that you’re willing to, quite literally, speak on their terms. 

But there are additional benefits to investing in language learning. Queries can be answered directly. Details can be ironed out without the need for a translator or go-between. For the most part, because you are dealing with the client on their terms, and just as importantly, directly, the likelihood of miscommunication decreases. So long as you achieve fluency and remember to double-check if you aren’t sure of a particular word or term, you eliminate the risk attached to allowing someone else to translate for you.

Attracting new business overseas

Similar to the first point, the importance of language learning in attracting new business cannot be overstressed. When it comes to marketing abroad you will need to know not only your client’s language, but understand the kinds of cultural differences which can make or break an ad campaign. After all, language is not just about speaking. It’s about context and the nuances of interaction. You will need to know when certain words can be used, and when they can’t, which terms are situation-sensitive and which are neutral, all of which may vary from situation to situation.

For instance, some countries may use both formal and informal pronouns. In France, depending on the context, a person is either “vous” or “tu”. Similarly, in Germany, a person may be addressed either as “sie” or “du“. Understanding subtleties like this can make the difference between forging a new relationship, or accidentally jeopardising one - whether preparing material online, or speaking to someone in person.

Investing in global mobility

Global mobility refers to the seamless operation of a company and its workforce across international borders. By investing in corporate training and development you prepare for and respond to emerging opportunities across the world. 

Language learning vastly improves the likelihood of success overseas at a time of global market uncertainty is putting companies under tremendous cost pressure. Invest in corporate language training to ensure you aren’t caught out playing catch up. The sooner staff have access to language learning tools, the easier it will be to expand their presence. 

Easing relocation of staff and teams

If you already have a business with one or more offices overseas, it’s almost inevitable staff will have to be relocated at some point, or if not relocated, sent abroad to help assist with training. In common situations like these, language learning is crucial. 

As well as learning the language, it’s important to teach soft skills like intercultural intelligence too. Without understanding subtle formalities within each culture, creating the right impression will prove a struggle. A credible language course should also include culturally appropriate responses and questions along with everything else. However, because learning is likely to be ongoing (i.e. even when they’re abroad) it’s important to select an e-learning course where possible. This should allow learners to access key materials on the go, whether with a smartphone, laptop or tablet.

Business English: retraining regional offices

One final step to take into consideration is business English. Although you may be comfortable with your staff’s existing level of English proficiency, they may still be lacking in the precise terminology specific to their business. It doesn’t hurt to put staff on a refresher course, particularly where they are involved in high level negotiations. This naturally applies to non-native speakers too. Those who may work in the UK, or overseas in one of your regional offices. Corporate English training may be what they need to help them progress in their careers, while adding essential value to your business.

Corporate training and development: summing up

Having looked at relocation, negotiation, global investment and new business, the key takeaway is this - be proactive as possible. While you can, in theory, globalise your business ‘on the fly’, it will be next to impossible, in practice, to respond to the many challenges that come your way without a strategy already in place. 

To ensure you’re ready, make corporate communication a top priority: invest in a streamlined language learning programme.

Busuu for business: language learning made simple 

Busuu is an award-winning language learning app with over 90 million users worldwide. With Busuu you gain access to flexible scheduling, analytics and insights, helping you to monitor the progress of each module and secure the return on your investment. Join over 500 leading organisations including Puma, ALSTOM, and DHL who use Busuu to grow their business.

Learn how we can help you scale your corporate language training offer internationally without compromising on quality.

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