What is corporate language training and is it something that could benefit you?
What are the similarities and differences between learning a language for yourself and learning a language within a business context?
We take a look at some of the things that are involved with learning a language from a corporate perspective and compare these with what you might expect if you take up some language training in a personal capacity.
Why Corporate Language Training?
There are many valid reasons for wanting to learn a new language to help further your business or career prospects. (See our recent post – The Business Case for Learning a New Language – for more on this). Or if you’re learning Spanish specifically, how about checking out our blog post on the 5 reasons to learn Spanish.
Fundamentally, though, it comes down to the difference between being able to communicate with potential customers, suppliers and partners in their own language i.e. Spanish, compared to learning how to order a meal in a restaurant or converse with strangers about the weather.
Of course, not everyone will want to have in-depth discussions about the particular industry you’re in. But learning a language for business purposes will likely include a different set of common phrases and understandings, when compared to learning a language for going on holiday or personal reasons.
Consider the fact that, within your daily life, words and phrases such as “spreadsheet”, “human resources”, “gross profit”, “revenue projections” etc are quite unlikely to be ones you use outside of your working environment.
So when you learn another language, there will be a whole set of business-related words that are likely to prove of far more use to you than being able to ask for directions to the nearest bakery or butchers. If you are already on your language learning journey you may already be asking yourself, “How do I remember all these new words?” – Our blog post on the 3 top tips and tricks for improving your vocabulary may be of help.
What’s the Process for Learning a Language in a Business Context?
If your business is involved with having people learn a new language, you’ll likely have the tuition scheduled for during work hours. It stands to reason that, if your new skill is of benefit to the business, you should use work time to learn the new skill.
Some people will decide they don’t have time during their working day and will wish to schedule their learning for after work or at the weekend. Certainly we’ve come across many business owners and corporate training organisers who want to arrange things in this way.
We’d suggest, though, that it’s worth bearing in mind that if you genuinely expect to generate additional sales or other business activities through the new opportunities that will be open to you – you should certainly consider timetabling your lessons as a part of your ongoing business routine.
And it’s not just the lessons themselves, of course. A fundamental element of success with learning a new language is the practice you put in outside of the actual teaching time. So our recommendation is you incorporate tuition and practice time within your weekly work schedule. This will enable you to progress faster and thus reap the benefits sooner.
Of course, if it really is an issue for you to take time out of your working day, you should certainly allocate time in the evenings and at the weekend to the learning process. Our tutors may recommend you schedule some time just after work for their lessons, as people are often more likely to remain motivated at this time of day, rather than once you’ve got home and settled in for the evening.
What’s the Best Format – One to One or in a Group?
We’re often asked whether it makes a difference to the pace of learning if you have individual lessons or you learn your new language skills in a group context.
The accurate answer – as with so many things when it comes to learning a new skill – is that ‘it depends’.
Certainly, with individual one to one tuition you get more of the teacher’s time focused directly on you and your specific needs. Plus it’s easier to tailor a bespoke programme when there’s only one person doing the learning. So many of our business language learners prefer this method.
However, with group tuition, you may get a sense of a more realistic environment. For instance, when you’re using your newfound language knowledge in a business context, consider how likely it is that you’ll only be talking to one person at a time, rather than discussing things with a team of people. So if you’re likely to be talking to multiple people at once, then group sessions can be of benefit for helping simulate the circumstances you’re likely to find yourself in.
Other factors will come into play, too – for example the cost of one to one tuition is usually higher (at least per person!). It’s also easier to schedule the lessons when there’s only one person who needs to allocate their time towards the programme.
Group learning, on the other hand, enables your business to benefit from having multiple people learn the new language at the same time. Which can be useful if you don’t want to be reliant on just one of your employees having the relevant skillset to deal with people in a different language.
Solo tuition can help you learn at your own pace. Whereas group lessons are likely to include people at different levels of ability. This can be good and bad, of course, as the people at a higher level could help bring the others up. Or the people at the lower level could bring the others down.
So when it comes to deciding on group or individual lessons, it really is a matter for examining the particular needs of your company and working it out from there.
Paying for Lessons
Another advantage of learning a language for your business, of course, is that the cost should be an allowable business expense. If you’re looking to expand into a new territory, or simply enhance your relationship with exiting contacts overseas, it certainly makes sense that it will be a benefit to your firm if you can converse in the target langauge. So the taxman should certainly allow you to put the training fees through your accounts. (Though we’ll add the caveat that we’re not tax accountancy specialists, so you should always check with your own accountant first).
Payment terms are generally available for corporate accounts, too, providing invoicing, credit card and direct debit options to fit whatever makes most sense for your business.
A Final Thought
Learning a new language is something many of us have considered over the years. So if it makes sense for your business, it may well be time you get round to going ahead – even if you’ve tried and failed previously.
Next article5 reasons to learn a language
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A specialist B2B advisor. Ross fully understands the difficulties involved in learning a new language for business.
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