Colleagues lean over a table to look at a laptop screen.

Support English Language Learners in the Workplace to Maximize Program Effectiveness

Jul 10, 2023

A good corporate language program will provide a great deal of effective instruction, learning tools, and resources. However, organizations can also aid in the learning process by providing additional learning support. Support English language learners in the workplace with the right tools and resources and you will be able to maximize the effectiveness of your language training program. Let’s look at some powerful ways companies can provide additional support for their language learners.

Learn about Bridge’s learning and analytics dashboard which provides companies with the data they need to track employee progress and program management.

1. Encourage continuous learning

Learning a language takes a long time and for many, it’s a lifelong process. Embracing a mindset of continuous learning can help. There are a wealth of online resource options to support English language learners in the workplace. Company language program sponsors may identify resources and provide learners with time for additional practice to encourage continuous learning and further immersion in the language.

Bridge’s corporate language training teachers are experts in language learning, with the experience to provide additional insights into well-vetted reading materials, videos, podcasts, and even films. Reaching out to program trainers is an excellent way to gather a cache of effective learning resources that can supplement instruction.

For example, Bridge’s downloadable guide, Business English: Empowering Teachers With Dynamic Resources, includes a curated list of support tools for teaching and learning Business English. This resource provides a variety of learning supports that companies could provide their employees, some with free access, and some that would require subscriptions.

Here are some examples of the types of resources that would provide additional opportunities for practice and study:

  • Reading materials such as physical or digital books, news sites, and magazines.
  • ESL sites with interactive online exercises.
  • Podcasts and videos
  • English films or series

By supplying access to resources like these for additional study or practice, companies contribute to building students’ intrinsic motivation to further immerse themselves in the language. Moreover, this allows students to create their own dynamic learning experience, which in turn can help them incorporate, reinforce, and apply the concepts they’ve learned in class more naturally.

For example, a student may recall Business English expressions they learned in a lesson more easily with repeated exposure to the expressions in a podcast, video, or article. With this cyclical learning approach in mind, make sure the materials provided to learners include real-life and easy-to-understand examples that are relevant to their learning goals.

Learn about Bridge’s language program solutions, which include the option of immersion in addition to private and small group training.

a man sitting in his office typing into his laptop.
Access to additional study and practice resources provides language students with opportunities to practice and build on what they are learning in their courses.

2. Foster a language-rich environment

There are many ways companies can build an environment that promotes English language use in the workplace, from organizing language-based activities to sending written correspondence. Consider the following ideas for creating opportunities for language learners to actively take part in a bilingual (or multilingual) work setting:

  • Encourage employees to communicate in English during meetings, presentations, and even in their daily conversations.
  • Set up discussion groups, networking events, and coaching sessions conducted in English.
  • Have employees exchange emails, give Business English advice, or share feedback in written form in English.

Giving employees the chance to use English with their colleagues provides a safe environment to apply their learning in the context of their work environment and helps boost their confidence. As they grow in proficiency, they’ll be well-prepared to apply that learning on the job with confidence.

Additionally, it solves one of the major concerns of English learners: the lack of opportunity to communicate in the language consistently and in the intended context. Employees spend many hours at work and internal communications practice lets them apply what they’ve learned in their training sessions.

Learn about some of the common challenges and solutions for Business English learners.

3. Provide access to language support tools

A practical complement to a company’s English language program is language assistance tools and applications. These may be online dictionaries, translation software, grammar and sentence checkers, and pronunciation apps. Here are some suggested support tools:

Language learners can take advantage of these online tools to facilitate many day-to-day tasks where English is required. Writing emails, creating documentation, and preparing presentations can, at times, pose a challenge for many non-native English speakers.

Many ESL students lack confidence when they begin applying their learning outside of the classroom, particularly when it comes to applying grammar and vocabulary. With the help of these tools, they can produce quality work more easily and clarify doubts related to word usage, sentence construction, and expressing ideas clearly.

The process of investigating language questions through these tools provides additional practice and a sense of autonomy. Learning through these technological language assistance tools will ultimately help improve their English proficiency along the way.

Are you considering instituting a corporate language program? Read about eight reasons to invest in language training for your non-native employees.

co-workers talk and smile, with two sitting and two standing around a desk.
Opportunities to practice conversation and small talk in the workplace can increase the confidence and proficiency of language learners.

4. Encourage cross-cultural collaboration

Another way to support English language learners in the workplace is to encourage cross-cultural collaboration. Professionals who work with a culturally diverse team usually turn out to be excellent communicators in the English language, as their constant interactions enable them to practice what they’ve learned in their Business English lessons and become more comfortable with intercultural communications.

With this in mind, encourage employees from various language backgrounds to collaborate on projects and assignments. Tasks that involve a lot of discussions or exchanging of ideas are optimal for this type of collaboration. In addition to the opportunities for meaningful cultural exchanges, cross-cultural collaboration is a great way to improve rapport among the workforce.

Read about five reasons your English language program and company culture should align.

5. Promote language exchanges

Finally, promoting language exchanges between language program students and native English speakers is a great way to support English language learners in the workplace. Language learners often cite small talk opportunities as a missing element of language learning instruction.

Organizing simple social events or other opportunities for language students to chat with other students and native speakers in a relaxed environment creates a safe place for conversation practice without the performance pressure of the classroom.

Even in the best classroom environments, students may feel they must perform, with the correct usage and grammar. But in a social situation, English may more flow naturally and learners will gain confidence in their ability to communicate.

Language exchanges can be arranged through a corporate language course provider to be held after work hours, either in person or virtually. During the events, employees can have conversations with their teachers and even meet colleagues from other areas, which can also help them find language partners or create their own groups to practice English with.

Bridge’s corporate language program also offers a monthly workshop-style English roundtable, in which language program students meet virtually with other students who share similar levels of English. The teacher shares an activity, and students work together to role-play or solve a problem. The workshops are particularly valuable for students engaged in private lessons, as this provides an opportunity to interact, have conversations, and perform with a group.

As you can see, there are many ways companies can provide additional support to their English language learners in the workplace. These supports serve the dual purposes of enhancing instruction received in courses and expediting the process of language acquisition, maximizing the company’s investment in language training.

Learn more about how long it takes to learn a language and the factors to consider when evaluating learning progress.

Krzl Nunes

Back in her hometown in the Philippines, Krzl worked as a writer at a TV station before moving to Chile. After she completed her TESOL certification, she worked for language institutes and then decided to become an independent English teacher to business professionals. When she’s not giving classes, she’s either surfing along Chile’s long stretch of coastline, traveling, or practicing photography by the beach.