When a business is on the hunt for English training for their employees, there is often a multitude of boxes that ‘must’ be ticked. The business may look for a course that:
- is respectable, well-known and reliable
- fits suitably within budget
- is something that employees actually gain useful English knowledge from
- is directly related to their employees’ professions (seeing as the end goal is, after all, advancing the business)
- is, preferably, something the employees actually enjoy
- allows them to work at their own pace (but pushes them just enough to be productive)
Oh, and it should be taught in a way that suits their learning style.
Is this too much to ask? Not necessarily
Because there is a wonderful plethora of online English language training courses out there, all of the above can be found and, if you’re lucky, it can be found in one place. It’s just a matter of looking for it whilst asking these questions
Does the course project respectability?
A good course guide will give you details, be comprehensive and its language will be accurate to the profession. Imagine that your sales team need to brush up on their English. You’ll be looking for a language training provider that presents the appropriate sales course in its brochure. The language used in that brochure should be appropriate to the sales register. You shouldn’t have to pick up a phone and dial the training provider’s team to get an impression that they are suitable.
Can you tailor the course to suit your business needs?
If your team has mixed abilities, you should have the opportunity to accept private or group lessons (or both). If your HR team has magnificent written English when it comes to emails, but poor English when it comes to face-to-face hosting, socialising and visits, you should be able to choose aspects of the course that focus specifically on language related to face-to-face communication.
How experienced are the teachers?
You should be able to tell from the language in the course brochure whether the writer knows the correct terminology for a given department. Words like ‘requisition’, ‘trade fair’ and ‘negotiation’ are all specific to sales. Sure, the writer may have done their research, but these details are an indication of what will be taught and reflect on the calibre of teacher. If the English course for pharmacists provides ‘asking about drug discovery and drug development’ as a lesson, it is understood that the teacher must have knowledge of pharmacy that a typical English teacher may not. If we accept the course description as a reflection of the standard of teaching, then the more detailed and specific it is, the better.
Are you choosing a course that your employees will be accepted for, regardless of their level?
An ordinary training provider will provide your business with any course requested, but a great provider will be realistic. After they have assessed the English levels of your employees, they’ll offer them courses that challenge their level. They won’t give employees an easy A (which could make the provider look great) and they shouldn’t overly challenge employees (which could lead to low self-esteem). The provider won’t pretend that every course is accessible to every learner. A group of proficient English speakers shouldn’t be offered an intermediate course just for the sake of appeasing you with good results.
Do you have a clear idea of the outcome of the course?
A qualification from a respected testing authority is great. Your employees will have solid proof of their language-related accomplishments. But, you’ll probably also want to know they’ll have the relevant English for your business. They could have an IELTS level 8 and, being in law, still not be able to talk specifically about the intricacies of fraud. If you’re training your employees for a reason, target outcomes could be set in discussion with the provider.
Can your hotel staff give guests a tour of the property as well as help them in an emergency (in English)? Perhaps these members of staff don’t need to have IELTS level 9. A certificate wouldn’t mean much in an emergency, but a good understanding of vocabulary related to emergencies would.
Considering these questions when looking for an English course could bring some clarity to a cloudy situation. The difference between finding a good English course and a great one is shown in the results of the business. Whichever course you do choose, make sure it’s the right one for you.
[You can ask for Infinitum’s free Business English brochure here.]