Monday, May 20, 2013

Issues of Global Corporate English - Part V

Part V - "Migrate the Environment"

In the course of such a program as presented in Part IV, the employee’s / team’s environment should be migrated to an English work environment.

It may be helpful to think of such a corporate migration as similar to the roll-out of new hardware or software.

Such environment migrations are also executed in phases or stages in accordance with need or priority of a particular organization, group or team.

Change the Environment - in stages
Software programs that future English communicators use should be migrated – in stages – to English language versions (Office applications, Email, SAP, etc.)
  • Glossaries can be provided with native language equivalents to ease the transition.

Corporate newsletters and other communications received should be the English version. These communication means can be supplemented with English / native language glossaries.

Presentations to teams / team meetings can also be migrated –
  • Initially with an English slide presentation accompanied by native language oral presentation and discussion, to
  • English test and oral presentation, until...
  • An exclusively English language affair.

Option: Combination Intensive - Weekly
At intervals, training participants could be sent on intensive trainings in order to bump them into a higher-level training group.
  • Participants for this could be identified on the basis of the organization’s need for his/her skills, and/or
  • To reduce the number of training groups (which are based on competence level), thus,
  • Reducing time “overhead” and making better use of group member  synergies.

The best approach here would be to schedule such intensive ("crash") courses shortly before the participants are expected to confront a significant increase in English language communication.For example, 1 -2 weeks before:
  • business travel to an English language venue
  • participation in an important meeting / conference in which English will be dominant
  • taking over a new position or role in which English play a larger role in daily work

Do not schedule such courses without a plan. Intensive language weeks are great, but their effectivity decreases with time.

I know of people who have taken such courses and returned to work with some well-deserved confidence. However, many were not required by their jobs to USE their English for weeks or months afterwards.

If you don't use it, you will use it!

First Steps
A pilot program would make sense here.
  • An organization / team / group should be identified for training
  • It would be advantageous for said group to contain a supportive leader and at least one member with good – very good English 
A company / corporation needs to decide on a real plan for supporting its international communication strategy.

English (or any language) will not become a productive means of global communication by accident.

Well, and that is essentially it for this series!
I will be happy to answer any questions.
Cheers and thank you for your attention,
Duane March, Ph.D.

Five Ways to Improve Foreign Language Training (article in

An article about foreign language training citing me in "" by Sarah Fister Gale

Experts say goals, job-specific training and human interaction are key to picking up a foreign language for work.

The biggest challenge with corporate language training is the time and effort it takes to become proficient. "It's not a problem you can solve immediately," says Chuck Frydenborg, senior director of corporate sales, North America for Rosetta Stone, a language learning software company.
But it can be done. Experts offer this advice on how to make the most of corporate language training programs.

Set goals: If employees needs to be proficient in a foreign language to do their jobs or to get promoted, let them know exactly what that means, what their timeline is and how many hours they are expected to invest in the training, says Duane March, a language trainer for Mindstorm Group, a training company in Frankfurt, Germany. "Then make proficiency part of their performance review."
Offer job-specific training. Whether in the classroom or online, the most effective training programs are shaped around the trainees' jobs and industry, says Julia Bonnheim, director of marketing for Livemocha. When courses include common business phrases, examples of emails or phone calls, and specific business documents, it makes the training much more relevant and engaging.
Offer some human interaction: You can have the best self-paced training course, but if the learner never gets feedback, it is hard to stay motivated, Bonnheim says. "Practicing with a native speaker creates engagement and gives learners a reason to keep trying."
Make it a priority. If learning a language is a strategic business goal, employees should be given time during the workday to take the training, says Melissa Caldwell, a customer care representative for Rosetta Stone. Best Buy Inc., for example, lets retail employees take up to eight hours per month of on-the-job language training to accommodate the increase in Spanish-speaking customers.
Require employees to communicate in the new language while on the job. Ask them to speak that language in certain business meetings, give them foreign language versions of corporate software, or require them to use the language when emailing certain colleagues, March suggests. "It will take time, and they will make mistakes, but it will help them build their confidence and their proficiency."

Sarah Fister Gale is a writer based in the Chicago area. Comment below or email Follow Workforce on Twitter at @workforcenews.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Issues of Global Corporate English - Part IV

Part IV: One Specific Approach to Weekly Training

This approach is based on the principle, as mentioned in Part III, that…
In order to be effective AND productive, learning materials should be based on actual, current organizational issues.

It is also designed for team members that need to attain English productivity in ca. nine months.
That is to say – a high priority!

It includes the option of one to two, 5-day intensive training weeks.

Therefore, the presence of a trainer consultant and and/or facilitator – familiar with an organization’s job functions and issues – would help to organize and customize training.
  • The trainer consultant sets up and establishes the method and weekly agenda. He also provides support to...
  • The training facilitator (potentially a member of the subject organization) is trained by the trainer / consultant. He moderates training sessions in combination with his other duties.

The Trainer Consultant (TC) goes into a subject organization / team, and
  • determines what the English skills of each participating employee is...
  • in order to group employees into more than one skill group, if necessary;
  • determines what the main duties of the organization and of each participant employee are;
  • determines what current issues in the organization are as well as any new information;
  • gathers documentation relevant to the issues and information for use as training material.

The Trainer Consultant (TC) then prepares relevant documentation as training material.
He also works together with the organization‘s designated Training Facilitator (TF) in order to train him to take over his responsibilities in the future.
  • He creates vocabulary / phrase list based on the each week‘s subject document(s).
  • He identifies / creates necessary grammar training material.
  • He also identifies / facilitates the creation of additional training material (e.g. audio CDs, etc.) if desired.

Sample Program for Weekly Training
The following program is just one possible example.
  • Training group meeting (1-2 hours): first look at training document for the week.
  • TC / (later, TF) identifies those words and phrases that need to be trained.
  • TC identifies and introduces grammar topic as needed.
  • TC assigns 7 words / phrases to be learned by the next day.
  • TC coaches participants regarding the assigned words / phrases / grammar topic as needed and individually in the course of the day.
  • TC provides further support to the organization (writing emails, composing other docs, etc.) for the rest of the day.

Tuesday – Thursday (optional for groups where the need for progress is more urgent)
  • Brief training group meeting: review of / quiz on learning material from previous day
  • TC assigns 14 words / phrases to be learned by the next day’s session.
  • TC coaches participants regarding the assigned words / phrases / grammar topic as needed and individually in the course of the day.
  • TC provides further support to the organization (writing emails, composing other docs, etc.) for the rest of the day.

  • Brief training group meeting: review of / quiz on learning material from previous day
  • TC conducts final review of total 49 words / phrases.
  • TC reviews grammar lesson as needed.
  • TC provides further support to the organization (writing emails, composing other docs, etc.) for the rest of the day.
  • Together with the TF (Training Facilitator), TC identifies new document for following week’s instruction

Weekly program: Results
  • 49 words / phrases per week – easily learned because they are set in context.
  • = 196 words / phrases per month = (10 months) almost 2,000 per year
  • 2,000 words / phrases a year guarantees intermediate ability for beginners and advanced ability to intermediate learners.
  • Learning words / phrases is facilitated by creating flash cards for them: learners can use them during breaks, on their way to lunch, at their desk and learn step-by-step.

The Training Facilitator (TF), ideally an internal member of the subject organization, is able to take over most daily duties.
The TC prepares and coaches him for this role. He also remains to provide support as needed.
  • The TF identifies weekly training document.
  • He leads Monday session towards identifying 49 words / phrases to be learned.
  • He creates flash cards.
  • Supported by the TC, he identifies / introduces / moderates grammar topics.

Result: in about 1-3 months, the TF could take over most training responsibilities, thus:
  • reducing costs incurred by TC, and / or
  • freeing the TC to initiate other training groups and/ or provide additional consultation;
  • enabling him in turn to advise other TFs or create successor TF in his own team / group / organization.

In Part V, I will make some general comments as to "Migrating" a non-English to an English communication environment.