The programmes forming our Foreign Language Portfolio, tailored to the specific requirements of course delegates, are geared to match the individuals’ learning patterns. We adopt a multi-focal approach to our training whether of an individual (private/personal or corporate) or group nature, in company or off-site:
- Tutoring (Native, professionally experienced)
- In-company resourcing
- On-line help
This approach is complemented by additional communications (e.g., newsletter offering snippets, guidelines, information etc. geared to course delegates). In addressing the training circle, our programmes can be led by budget (‘I have £ … to spend’), target (‘I need to be able to …’) or hourage (‘I want … hours of tuition’).
All training is carefully blended to ensure clients’ satisfaction and geared to clear, identifiable standards taking full account of our clients’ targets (i.e. competences, levels, registers etc.).
Our fees include all the aspects above as well as appraisal/reporting and the option of a BCT (Business Culture Training) ingredient.
HOW TO GET YOUR TONGUE ROUND FOREIGN WORDS
Improved communications over recent years have expanded markets to encompass the entire globe with the world becoming one single market-place. Although the full force of these developments has yet to be appreciated, one problem stands out sharply in general lack of preparedness: Britain’s continued and marked shortfall in foreign language and language-related competences.
LET THE BUYER UNDERSTAND
International marketing traditions in the West owe much to the balmy days of internal markets drawing upon home nation, Empire/Commonwealth and other areas of colonialism where the dominant power had imposed control with its own tongue as home language. To ignore the forces of the international markets of today, not to respond in the terms and languages best understood by foreign buyers, is as fruitless as selling to a British home market in German, Japanese, French etc. How is it that the competition has learned a lesson which so many whose mother tongue is English refuse to acknowledge? We live in a multilingual society for which we must all be prepared and to which we must all respond.
THE FIRST STEP
In addressing the challenge, companies should understand that, if not already international, they must become so … or perish. Business planning must now include corporate language policies designed to make good the identified skills shortfall. This shortfall can then be translated into a training programme which can be gauged, monitored, assessed and reviewed as appropriate.
For companies operating across the EU, attention in order of priority should focus upon German, French and then Spanish. Outside this list Arabic, Japanese and Chinese loom large. Other considerations are that French is spoken in Canada, Africa etc., Spanish across Latin America (excl. Brazil) and that German remains the second language of Russia.
There is no magic pill for learning a language. Nothing can be learned overnight. To learn French as well as your mother tongue, could take just as long. So, what’s the answer?
The answer is: learn the tools for the job. Learn French, German or Spanish for a specific purpose (Languages for Specific Purposes: LSP): that purpose may be to answer the telephone, to socialise, to negotiate, to compose letters, even to decipher them, or simply to negotiate your way across a foreign land.
OUR TRAINING PROGRAMMES
People learn at different rates, often in different ways. Programmes will be dictated further by the time available, starting point, dedication, discipline, target, timescale and budget. The best advice at this point is to bring the problem to professional consultants like ourselves.
Our role is to identify and match the appropriate methodology with content and even the budget for the individual person, department, division or company. We offer a skills audit and a training needs analysis geared to designing courses to meet specific needs across the whole spectrum of language and language-related provision. The dedicated package saves time, money and heartache ensuring focus and cost-effectiveness.
Our approach covers varied permutations of the following points:
- Identification of Trainees
Considerations: Job/person specification/functions and corresponding language requirements; bonus and incentive schemes.
Observations: Within a company context, the training programme should address the corporate language policy and should take trainees’ job specifications into full account. The absence of any such policy is further reason to bring us into the frame. With new international pressures job specifications might need to be re-written and employees might well need to be offered incentives to acquire the new skills required for the company’s survival.
- Delivery of Training
Considerations: Residential or non-residential; in-company or off-site; self-disciplined, partially or fully tutored; teleguided; open/distance; individual or in group; at home or abroad; evening, morning, lunch-time, twilight or week-end.
Observations: There are many options and permutations. Each has its own merits dependent largely upon the resources of time and finance available.
- Intensity of Training
Considerations: Intensive, extended (drip-fed) or on-going.
Observations: Training could be full-time, extended for a few hours per day/week over a determined period or could be a continuous, on-going commitment.
- Course Design
Considerations: LSP; ratio between the linguistic and para-linguistic (e.g., cultural/social awareness and business culture briefing); initial and refresher courses; competences and grades.
Observations: The need may be to learn a language solely for a special purpose (e.g., to receive and make international telephone calls). Alternatively there may be a need to learn how others behave. Courses may be for the beginner or to take post-beginners further up the ladder of learning in order to achieve specific levels and abilities.
Considerations: Printed word/manuals; graphics; radio; audio cassettes; Tutored Video Instruction (TVI); passive video viewing; Interactive Video (IV); Compact Disc Interactive (CD-I); Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL); satellite broadcasting; CD ROM +/- voicecards.
Observations: We have a wealth of teaching and learning aids at our disposal. Any one or combination might be the most appropriate for course delegates with targets, time and budget being taken fully into account.
Considerations: Active/reactive; encoding/decoding; 1:1 or group; role-play; contexts.
Observations: Is the training to have a general purpose? Or are the goals so specific that they may be itemised? (e.g., to understand the written word; to write and perhaps not to speak). Could those targets be met by group or individual study? How would role-playing help contextualise the learning process?
- Monitoring Assessment & Evaluation
Considerations: Targets; progression and achievement; cost-effectiveness.
Observations: The skills audit and needs analysis need careful preparation and full consideration. Targets need to be clearly defined and progression monitored against a clear schedule to ensure fullest cost-effectiveness.
- In-house Resources (Resource Centres)
Considerations: Location; mission; management (internal/tethered to out-sourcing); materials; methodology (incl. references and retrieval systems); open/secure or with free/controlled access; staffing.
Observations: The cost-effectiveness of an in-house ‘language centre’ may outweigh all other considerations. Such a resource or centre – be it a building, a unit, a filing cabinet or just a box – needs to be somewhere, needs to have a clear role, needs to be staffed/managed/supervised, whether by company personnel or by outside contractors, needs to be stocked and needs to reflect a clear methodology.
Considerations: Staff development (professional progression), external v. internal awards; identification of appropriate standards and awarding bodies.
Observations: One goal in the training may be to gain qualifications either designed and awarded (off the shelf or dedicated) by the company or an outside body.
- Translation & Interpreting
Considerations: In-company, on-going contractual provision; glossary compilation; PR and marketing.
Observations: See TRANSLATION AND INTERPRETING.
- Additional Services
Considerations: Budgeting; policy considerations; trade/profession conferencing.
Observations: Serious consideration of language learning involves policy decisions, as much by the individual person as by the individual company or its component(s). Those decisions address business planning, involve budgets. And commitment needs to be clearly defined and rigorously defended if the training is to be worth while i.e., of benefit to targets.
For many businesses, business people and others, the foreign language and language-related training we provide will be a new, but nonetheless essential consideration on which our clients’ future prosperity could well depend.