7 Essentials for Building an Effective Language Training Program

As Voxy’s VP of Customer Success, one of the most frequent conversations my team and I have with corporate clients is about how to build effective language training programs. English has become the universal language of business and employees around the world simply cannot get their jobs done or reach their full potential without the ability to properly communicate with teams, clients and vendors in other countries.

But teams responsible for professional development and language training at large corporations are up against many challenges. Traditional language training is notoriously expensive and it’s nearly impossible to measure ROI. Employees can spend years in classes with very little to show for it.

We often hear that employees become quickly unengaged and tend to frequently skip in-company classes due to meetings and other work commitments. In the long run, it becomes a program that is hard for leaders to support. Sound familiar?

Before you invest in corporate language training, check out our top seven recommendations for building an effective program.

  1. Know how you’re going to measure ROI.
    One of the first questions we ask every customer is: What does success looks like for your organization? Knowing your reference for ROI is crucial to build and maintain a successful program. The good news is that almost everything in a digital learning program can be measured. Your ROI measure could be overall proficiency gain, moving 100% of beginners up at least one level or guaranteeing that employees practice for at least one hour per week. Programs with the most impact identify what is important and measure it consistently over time.
  2. Prioritize employees who need English to perform their jobs.
    Build a language training program that prioritizes employees who need English to perform their day-to-day jobs. Seems intuitive, right? Many companies overlook this simple fact and focus on hierarchical criteria. Instead, you should always prioritize employees who have daily interactions in English. They will be able to apply what they learn immediately, which will also help them learn faster. It’s the ultimate win-win.
  3. Your training program needs to be part of a professional development plan and it should factor into performance reviews.
    A common mistake we see is to divorce language training programs from employees’ professional development plans. If an employee is selected for a language training program, it should have an impact on their performance reviews and factor into promotions and raises. This will ensure alignment between the company’s goals and the employee’s career path, and guarantee higher levels of engagement.
  4. Expectations around usage must be crystal clear.
    We highly recommend defining usage criteria for employees and enforcing it consistently over time. Employees must know what is expected of them each month and understand that there are consequences for those who do not comply. Make sure you’re communicating such criteria clearly and consistently to employees, and you’ll see great results.
  5. Managers need to be involved, know what their employees are doing and act as a united team.
    At Voxy, we provide platform training for employees and their managers, who become partners working toward program adoption and engagement. Managers should have access to everything their employees are doing in the platform, including whether they are complying with the recommended study plan or not. This partnership is powerful because it sends employees the message that this is a team effort with the ultimate goal of enabling them to succeed.
  6. Use assessments to your advantage.
    Do you know how many of your employees are beginners? What about intermediate and above? It all starts with knowing where your company stands and what your needs are based on an initial assessment. We recommend that you use this tool first, especially if you’re unsure of the size of the program you want to implement or what results to expect. Voxy offers an assessment product that gives you the data you need to design and support a successful language training program. We have customers that use this product to test all new hires and place them in the appropriate training programs. This can also be used as part of the hiring process to confirm if self-reported proficiency levels are accurate.
  7. Want to see faster results? Add a human component.
    If you have a group of employees and managers that need to improve their English faster than the rest, we recommend providing additional hours of live instruction for this group. Our research shows that learners who take live classes with instructors improve more quickly than those who don’t. With hyper personalized sessions, these employees will be able to focus exactly where they need the most help and therefore make progress more quickly.

Building a successful language training program requires work, but when effectively planned and executed, it’s a no-brainer.

Juliana Elmais is the VP of Customer Success at Voxy. Voxy’s team of specialized Customer Success Managers work with clients every day to build successful language programs around the world.