‘Languages’ is a social subject. It is all about being able to communicate with other people effectively – opening up new relationships and building on existing ones. As such, learning a language is a lot easier if learners are able to try out their new skills on the people around them.
If companies encourage their employees to take up language training, then it makes sense to integrate a language learning culture into the workplace. This way, practising language skills in the workplace becomes the norm, making it more likely for employees to achieve success in their studies. Ultimately, a language learning culture turns the challenge into a group pursuit, rather than an individual one.
Here are some tips to help HR managers effectively integrate a language learning culture into the workplace.
Encourage business leaders to set an example
Imagine your company has a large customer base in the United Arab Emirates, and you want to capitalise on this market further by investing in Arabic language training for your workforce. Employees will probably pick up Arabic language skills faster if they are able to practise them on a daily basis and integrate their learning into the day-to-day business environment.
As with any form of culture change within the workplace, it is up to senior members of the team to set the example.
Employees may feel unsure about chatting to each other in Arabic in the workplace, but, if they hear managers and supervisors doing it, then they may not feel so out of place.
Similarly, it can be useful to jot down business notes and receive emails or other messages in the language being learnt – anything that gets employees used to using it in a business context – so managers could lead the way by starting to implement the new language into their correspondence with colleagues.
Set up regular study sessions
Supporting employees in their language studies will boost their motivation and make them feel as though their efforts are being recognised.
Rather than just arranging a business language course for employees and leaving them to get on with it, you could do things like organising regular team study sessions to show that the company is fully involved in the language course.
These sessions could be short, informal and fun, and will ideally take place during work hours, so that employees do not have to give up much of their own time.
The most important thing is that they are regular, so that the lessons remain fresh in the learners’ minds.
Organise fun, language-based events
A lot of companies already promote team-building exercises and hold social events for employees – from quiz nights and film screenings to trips away. These events offer a perfect opportunity for a bit of extracurricular language learning.
Quizzes can be mixed up with a few language-based questions; teams can enjoy a foreign film rather than an English one; and employees could even be taken to visit the country of the language they’re learning.
So there are just a few ideas for integrating a language learning culture into the workplace. To find out more about business language training, contact us at Simon & Simon today.