Learning & Development

Importance of Language Training for Businesses

In an increasingly global business environment, many companies place a premium on bilingual or multilingual employees. Even with English as a lingua franca for business in much of the world, and even with increasingly sophisticated translation technologies like Google Translate, the benefits of multilingualism are still significant.

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Benefits of Being Bilingual

According to some experts, being multilingual can increase an individual’s personal network, improve decision-making, and increase perception. But there are certainly benefits for the organization, as well. Imagine doing business with a company located in Mexico.
Not only would having Spanish-speaking employees available to interact with your company’s Mexican counterparts make communication more efficient and clear, but it also shows a level of respect and commitment to your partners by not simply assuming all of your business will be conducted in English.

It’s Never Too Late

Humanities Indicators estimated that in 2014, approximately 15.7% of Americans aged 18 or older were multilingual. That means approximately 84% are not. But companies don’t necessarily need to find employees who are already fluent in two or more languages to increase the number of their multilingual staff.
And just because it’s easier to learn a second language as a child doesn’t mean adults can’t also learn second or third languages. There are a multitude of tools available for people of all ages to develop language skills in a variety of formats.

Incenting Employees to Learn a New Language

In terms of incentivizing employees to spend the time and effort learning a new language, employers can consider financial incentives, such as a pay differential for employees who can demonstrate proficiency in certain languages.
Additionally, nonfinancial incentives, such as the ability to travel for work to countries where that second language is the native tongue, can also be effective.
So, if we accept that learning a new language for employees is beneficial for the individuals and the organization, what is the best method for achieving that goal?
In a follow-up post, we’ll talk about one application in particular that has become effective at using gamification techniques and artificial intelligence (AI) to help people learn.