A recent British Council survey found that many Britons are embarrassed by their lack of language skills. As a result, they often resort to pointing at menus while on holiday, or avoiding local restaurants and cultural experiences altogether. Although 37% of respondents try to learn a little of the local language, many others do not – even though they realise how valuable this can be.
What might be holding people back? The survey results suggest that a lack of confidence is a major factor. However, learning a new language is actually an approachable and achievable goal that can open your world to new countries, cuisines and cultures – and that is before you consider the many business benefits.
This blog offers some practical advice to help your team start their language learning journey with confidence.
Practice, practice, practice!
Confidence may be one of the biggest hurdles for language learners to overcome, but practice will help to build confidence over time. Speaking the new language whenever possible, even if the idea seems terrifying at first, will soon yield fantastic results.
Group learning presents plenty of practice opportunities, and your organisation should look for ways to integrate language learning into the corporate calendar – after all, a language misstep in the workplace might do more damage than ordering the wrong meal on holiday! Investing time in your team’s language training will quickly prove worthwhile. Before you know it, your colleagues will be calling their overseas clients to chat about a contract without a moment’s pause.
Everyone makes mistakes when they are learning a new language, but that is part of the process of learning – and accepting that mistakes are a natural part of the experience will help your colleagues to shake off any self-consciousness. Encourage your team to approach each group session as a multi-layered (and fun!) opportunity – a team-building opportunity, a learning and personal development opportunity, and a business opportunity, all rolled into one.
Your colleagues can also expect to feel an enormous sense of achievement as they become more competent with the new language – and this will go a long way towards boosting their confidence.
Share the journey
You might be surprised just how many people in Britain are contemplating learning a second language. The British Council have estimated that one in five of us intend to tackle a new language in 2018, with European languages such as Spanish, French and German topping the list.
Encourage different ways to practice, both inside and outside the office – perhaps your team could conduct a meeting in the new language, or combine a social event with a practice session. Colleagues might even decide to plan a trip with friends or family to practice in a more relaxed setting, where they can order a meal in German or a coffee in French!
Learning a language in-house presents your business with a wealth of opportunities, from building relationships with new clients to developing your colleagues’ skills. Contact Simon & Simon today to find out more about our French, German and many other language learning courses in Central London and beyond.