It’s not uncommon to hear someone extolling the virtues of learning a second language. It can expand an individual’s horizons and help them to explore the world. It will also improve their employment prospects. But language skills aren’t only beneficial for the individual. Businesses can benefit from their employees having a second or even third language. And having multilingual staff doesn’t have to mean hiring people who have an extra language.
If your business has a great team, you could offer your employees language lessons, instead of looking to hire more people. Are you looking to expand into other countries? Or deal with clients of different nationalities from your home country? Employees with language skills could put you a cut above other companies.
Domestic markets are becoming more culturally diverse. And international markets are becoming more integrated and entwined with each other. Just 5.6% of the world’s population speaks English. And, according to Rosetta Stone, 72.4% of people are more likely to buy a product if the information is in their own language.
Expanding Your Market
Having extra language skills can make all the difference in business. It could be the difference between keeping up with other businesses and getting left
behind. Some of the biggest and fastest expansion is taking place in Asia and South America. By having their employees master Spanish, for example, a company could capture a large part of South America. There are also several other countries where the main language is Spanish. Spanish is the second most widely spoken language in terms of native speakers.
And the USA traded $579 billion dollars with China in 2012. Making Mandarin Chinese (the most widely spoken language) a very useful language to learn. By 2018, the spending power of India, China and Russia could triple.
Providing Great Customer Service
Populations are beginning to diversify more than ever. So providing multilingual services to your customers is more important. You should make sure your customers can access your services in a variety of languages. But you should also make sure you’re doing it well.
Make sure that you have literature printed in different languages. It should be professionally written and checked. Your phone and online support can be multilingual too. You shouldn’t just be providing a basic service either. Your company should excel in providing customer service in other languages.
The customer experience is important. And, with many people saying they will pay more for a good experience, it’s something that relates to profits. Overcoming language barriers will provide an altogether better experience for businesses and customers. It will increase customer loyalty and help you keep customers. Of course, another option is using interpreters, for both customers and clients. But this provides a much less personal service.
Employee Safety and Performance
Improved additional language skills also help employees in the workplace. You might offer your migrant employees English language lessons. Or you can have native employees learn an additional language. Either way, it can improve workplace safety and performance. Many migrant and native workers don’t count English as a first language. And this can be hazardous in certain industries. In construction, for example, understanding safety instructions is vital.
Acquiring and keeping talented employees who can help you reach your business goals is difficult. But offering training in languages can help you to keep your skilled employees. Customers who don’t offer their employees training are more than three times as likely to lose them. There is demand for skills in languages other than English worldwide. So it makes sense to offer them as part of your employee training. In fact, companies that invest in learning for their employees outperform the market by more than 45%.
How Can You Branch Out into Other Languages?
Do you want to start taking on foreign markets and engaging with additional languages in domestic markets? It can be hard to know where to start. There are several things you can do. As well as training staff in language skills, you can have a language strategy. Hire native speakers and use translators. There are different ways you can approach
training your employees in languages.
Language courses take different forms. For example, employees could visit a language center and attend a class. Or a lesson could take place at your business premises. Your employees could improve their business language as they work on a project. You could send your staff to evening classes. Or they could spend a period taking intensive language classes to learn as much as possible in as little time as possible.
You could even have your staff take part in some immersive training. It’s best to learn English in Britain or the US. And people can benefit from hearing any language every day, spoken by native speakers. Your staff can take language courses abroad. This way they can experience the language they’re learning for a prolonged amount of time. They learn in a natural environment, instead of just in the classroom.
These trips could also double-up as morale-building trips. You could combine them with other training exercises. For example, exercises for building teamwork skills and handling clients. If you hire native speakers and translators, you should make sure
they work with the employees who are learning. Combining native speakers and learners for business transactions could be a great learning experience for the staff in training.
Before developing a language strategy, identify the most appropriate language or languages for your business to focus on. Languages such as Spanish and Mandarin are widely spoken. But that doesn’t mean they’re the best choices for your business. Identifying the best markets for you to target will involve market research into different countries.
You will need to think about your product and how it will fit different cultures and languages. And remember that moving into foreign markets isn’t only about teaching employees language skills. It’s about cultural sensitivity too. You may even need to rebrand in certain markets to avoid making any faux-pas or cultural miss-steps.