Language learning insights for companies

Why learning soft skills and English go hand-in-hand

If you work in a global corporation, you’ve probably had an experience similar to this: You’re in a breakout room, a conference space set up seminar-style with a podium at one end. Someone in khaki pants, a blue button-up shirt, and a blazer but no tie is finishing up their presentation on some best practices. After confirming there are no more questions and thanking everyone for their attention, he exhales, wipes his brow and says with a smile: “By the way, this was the first presentation I’ve ever done in English!”. The crowd applauds.

Global high potential professionals who don’t speak English as their first language have probably received company-sanctioned training provided by their Training and Development departments. They’ve probably received role or function-specific hard skills training, focusing on technical capabilities. And probably attended some courses to improve their soft skills like giving presentations, professional writing, and time management. These are transferrable skills they can use now and throughout their careers no matter where they end up. And perhaps, they’ve learned English through their company’s language training program as well.

In the area of corporate learning and development, there’s often a distinction between these different categories of training. So much so in fact that there are different career specializations for technical training roles versus other L&D and leadership development. And too often, transferrable soft skills are themselves developed and trained for in separate, sometimes disjointed programs, taught in different modalities, times of the year, or to different cohorts.

In this fast-paced, globalized world, soft skills are becoming increasingly more critical for businesses and a major differentiator for employability and success. And therefore, they are highly important skills for employees. So much that these are often considered the skills of the 21st Century.

But how do we define soft skills?

These can be described as interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence, communication skills and character traits that help set the tone of how people perceive you and the ability to interact effectively with others.

In the workplace, the most important skills that companies currently looking for are: problem-solving, good communication skills – in English, the business’ language-, time management, public speaking, empathy, and negotiation.

Think of the corporate leader who presented in English, their non-native language, while wearing a blazer and no tie. Strong presentation, communication, and English skills are vital in this instance. And guess what: all of those skills are transferrable. In EF’s experience in 50+ years of corporate training, transferrable skills can and should be taught together with English to make each learning experience relevant and meaningful. This belief informs our language training programs for major corporations around the globe.

Your corporate employees should not be learning “The cat is black” – in fact, that’s one reason why many corporate language training programs don’t work. Rather, your people can practice business-specific language that can be applied in real-time right after they finish a lesson. After all, a corporate training program is an investment.

EF has over thirty specialized English courses and tailored curriculum across job functions, seniority tiers, and industries. In this way, not only are employees improving their English during their language training program, but they’re learning soft skills at the same time. Adding value and helping your global teams to do their jobs! Whether it’s writing professional correspondence, running meetings, negotiating, communicating on the phone or speaking in public just like the corporate leader that gave a presentation in English. These transferrable soft skills can keep language training relevant and meaningful to your business ensuring your employees don’t stay behind.

Develop the skills for the 21st century Find out more

Share this article

Latest articles from Strategy