Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Issues of Global Corporate English - Part III

Part III: General Approach towards making English a practical and effective means of corporate communication

Two basic approaches should be considered:

Intensive training
  • Good training has its price
  • Best for those who need to become effective within 1-6 months

Gradual yet constant daily / weekly language training
  • Less price intensive and more easily “budgetable”
  • Slower progress: best for those with targets of 6-18 months

Functional Assessment and Prioritization
In any case, employees, teams and organizations first need to be assessed and prioritized.
Such a prioritization takes into account how important English productivity is for each team, organization or job function assessed.
One would imagine the following functional areas to have a high priority (English productivity in 9-12 months):
  • Corporate Communications
  • Advertising and Marketing
  • User Support (IT) for international teams
  • Human Resources
  • Finance
… among others.

Just as when a company migrates an IT landscape from one state to another, rolling out a new English “landscape” should be organized, controlled and executed in stages and phases.

Stages in a corporation’s “English Migration”

In the case of the high priority group above, an intensified program of weekly trainings (3-4 hours / week) – possibly combined with one or two 5-day intensive courses.

Other employees who will need English productivity in 1 to 2 years – i.e., they are in a lower priority group – can be offered “conventional” weekly training (1.5 to 2 hours a week), with one difference from most conventional training offered:

Training should be based directly on current issue, initiatives, presentations relevant to the organization‘s daily work (more about this later).

At some time during the second year, the lower priority groups could be migrated to the high priority program.

Personnel Assessment and Program Development

All personnel who are expected at some point to become productive in English should be assessed for their current English competency.

An English learning / improvement program should then be designed based on a combination of each employee’s needs and of his job function as prioritized for English (above).

As mentioned in the prior post, language development should be treated – promoted and tracked – as seriously as all other required job skills.

Learning, improving, using English effectively must be treated as an important part of an employee‘s job.

Intensive Training – for crucial personnel
Scenario:
  • An automobile manufacturer wants a leading engineer to provide consulting in America.
  • The engineer has some English skills, but cannot truly communicate effectively.
  • Understanding between German and American is slow and marked by frequent difficulties.
  • Intensive Training can take someone from “intermediate” skills to comfortable communication within 1-6 months.

What kind of intensive training?
There are several methodologies for ensuring rapid English improvement.
  • The best training can adapt materials to a person’s work vocabulary (but should not ignore conversational skills).
  • In contrast with daily training, intensive training should mostly take part away from the work environment.
  • Intensive training also requires a relaxed state of mind and distance from daily work issues.

Daily / Weekly Training – on the job / part of the job
This offers slower progress, but it:
  • is easier to budget and
  • allows participants to remain on the job

However, the aforementioned issue must be kept in mind.
  • Participants must sense that the training is an important part of their job – it is a corporate priority.
  • Yet training should hamper “real work” as little as possible.
In order to be effective AND productive, learning materials should be based on actual, current organizational issues.

In Part IV I will present an example of a program incorporating weekly training as its essential component.
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