Some of the benefits of language learning, such as the efficiency and cost savings of being able to communicate without a translator, are obvious. Many companies introduce language learning programs purely for these reasons. When you look harder, though, there are many more reasons why language learning is an important part of a professional development program.
Speaking a second language in front of other people takes courage and is often a transformative experience for people. When people have overcome the challenge of communicating in a second language, using first language suddenly seems a lot simpler. A person who was too shy to share their ideas in a meeting is often a lot more forthcoming after going through the same experience in a second language.
Better customer service
In a global business, offering customer service in a language your clients understand is a must. Customer service is about more than just call centers, though. Effective language training for all client-facing staff ensures customers have a consistently excellent experience whatever their point of contact with your organization.
Faster response times
Quick responses are vital to the efficiency of any business. Whether it’s being able to answer a customer query from another country promptly or read a complex report in a second language and add their comments to it, staff who are comfortable and confident in their language skills will be more productive.
Increased cultural awareness
Culture is an essential part of language and, in the global workplace, an essential part of doing business. Understanding why a client is waiting until the last minute to complete a deal or insists that you make a personal visit to their country before placing an online order is a lot easier when staff have spent time learning about that client’s culture as part of a language learning program.
Improved internal communication
Language skills aren’t just useful for external communication, either. In a survey conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit, 56% of respondents cited cross-border collaboration within their business unit or division as very important. Staff who are comfortable communicating in a second language are vital to this collaboration process.
Language learning is an essential part of any professional development program and the benefits will be more to staff than just being able to speak that language. So, when it’s that important can you afford to ignore it?