Learning & Development

Should Learning a Second Language Be a Part of Training?

In today’s globalized world of business and commerce, most corporations and enterprises are internationally based, along with nearly 60% to 70% of small businesses, which should be no surprise because e-commerce practices and the Internet make it easier than ever to connect with other business entities and internationally based customers.

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But language barriers between business partners or entities or a business and its customers can result in lost sales and partnerships, poor brand reputation, and dwindling customer satisfaction. Because of this, many global organizations want to implement language learning in the workplace, although there aren’t too many organizations (at least based in the United States) that have multilingual employees just yet.

So, if you’re thinking of implementing language learning, here are some pros and cons to consider.

Pros

It’s easy to implement. With mobile language learning apps like Duolingo and language learning software like Rosetta Stone tailored for businesses, language learning has never been easier to implement. L&D staff will not need to develop and execute language learning in the workplace alone, and these easy-to-implement tools make implementing language learning across your workplace more cost-effective, too.

It leads to more productive and confident employees. According to research, employees who complete language training are more confident and will no longer waste hours trying to translate e-mails and audio files because they’ll be able to immediately translate what they’re reading or hearing. They’ll also be able to immediately respond to what their business partner or customer is saying in another language.

It increases your organization’s competitive edge and reputation. If your employees can directly and positively interact with your globally based partners and customers, your business will gain a competitive edge and will be able to build a reputation for forming better business relationships.

Cons

It must be managed and monitored. While easy-to-implement language learning tools are cost-effective and easy to use, they can’t usually be monitored by employers and L&D teams due to a lack of integrations with major learning management tools and systems.

So, you may not have access to how your employee learners are doing and whether they need additional continual support or resources, and you won’t be able to closely monitor language learning courses and outcomes.

It can be time-consuming. While it’s easy for your employees to access and use most mobile language learning apps and software, becoming completely fluent in another language will be difficult and time-consuming. You can’t expect employees to take mobile language learning courses over a single month and become completely fluent for a looming business meeting; implementing language learning in the workplace will require strategy, planning, and foresight.

It can’t replace business etiquette training for different cultures. While language learning courses are valuable to conducting business globally, they still need to be accompanied with business etiquette courses to be fully effective. For example, knowing how to speak Mandarin will not prove useful for business professionals if they don’t also know the common sayings, greetings, traditions, and dining customs of their business partners or customers who speak Mandarin.

So, as you decide whether your organization should implement language learning, consider the pros and cons outlined above.