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Why language learning is good for business

Having the confidence to speak the language of your overseas colleagues and clients and being able to communicate effectively should be an essential part of your Organisation Strategy. The task of developing these language skills usually falls to HR or Learning & Development.

Everyone recognises the problems which can occur in business when staff find it difficult to communicate with their overseas colleagues and clients – missed enquiries, lost orders, misunderstandings, hesitating to pick up the phone to discuss issues, inability to chase payments effectively, low morale and poor staff retention…mistakes are made.  The Guardian agrees that language skills are great for business.

The first decision to make is when to start learning the target language. The answer is – it’s never too soon. Plan well ahead as a key part of your learning and development strategy – don’t leave it until the last minute, as no one can become proficient in a second language in a couple of weeks. Weekly lessons – either face-to-face or via Skype – are designed to take place over a relatively long period and allow you time to consolidate what you have been learning between sessions.

If you need to get to grips quickly with the basics, for a business trip for example, then an intensive course might be preferable. If you choose this option, be aware that intensive courses are of most value if you can ‘top up’ your training regularly afterwards.


When an employer encourages and helps an employee to learn a foreign language it will improve retention and raise staff morale. In addition, giving foreign workers the opportunity to improve their English skills so that they can better communicate with colleagues and line managers in the UK will lead to direct performance improvements. Good talented people naturally want to advance and they appreciate meaningful support in the process. Many ambitious employees want to gain skills and become more versatile and valuable to an organization. If they do not get the support they need will they move to an organisation that is willing to support them? For more reasons why companies should support Personal Development plans click here.

CLT Ltd has been the preferred supplier of English language training for London’s Hawksmoor Restaurants for 5 years.  Former HR Manager, Mirjam Saar, said:

“We would highly recommend CLT to any company that’s willing to invest in their staff and their personal development.

We can tell the lessons have made a difference for those attending – Our employees appreciate the opportunity given to them and they are much more confident at work – we in return want to keep supporting them in their careers and hopefully we are able to see more and more people getting promoted in their jobs.”

Most business people learn a second language to help them communicate with their customers and colleagues. So make sure that you choose a language training provider who will take time to meet with you, discuss your objectives in detail and assess any current language skills your employees have. You should then expect a very focussed, detailed training plan from them which concentrates on those aspects of the language which will enable sustained business performance – eg survival skills for travel, telephone skills, polite social conversation and introductions, meetings, presentations, emails, documentation – all incorporating your own work-specific terminology.

It will also help if your training provider builds into the programme a certain amount of cultural and business etiquette as even our closest neighbours do business in different ways. See our blog on “14 essential tips for conducting successful international business meetings”.


As opposed to European languages, most of which are relatively easy to learn, languages such as Mandarin Chinese present more of a challenge. Have a chat with your language training provider to make sure that you have set yourself attainable objectives. With languages such as Mandarin Chinese, you may wish to focus simply on speaking and listening skills coupled with business/social etiquette. Read our blog “6 tips to doing business in China” for some business tips.

However far you decide to go in terms of learning the language of your customers and overseas colleagues, you can be sure that it will certainly be appreciated and reap amazing rewards!

To book your language course, call us today on +44 (0) 203 036 0760.

Or visit our website for more information.