10 signs of unproductive language courses for companies

How can we detect whether language courses in companies works or not? Learn to recognize the signs of a language course that doesn’t do what it’s meant to.

How can you tell if language courses for companies works? How do we know if the French classes, Spanish classes or Chinese classes given at our company are useful? How can you tell if an Italian or Portuguese course is not achieving its goals and is merely a waste of time and energy for your company? Let’s see some of the signs…

1. The teacher is not in touch with the student’s supervisor

The teacher who will be giving a language course at your company should be in touch with the manager or supervisor of the students before classes start, either   through the institute who hired her or directly. The manager or supervisor is the only person capable of transmitting the context in which the foreign language will be used.

2. The language courses at your company have no clear objective

The objectives for language courses are established in a meeting attended by the managers (and possibly someone from human resources) and the teacher (or institute). The objectives should establish the contents of the course based on the situations in which the student will use these languages as part of their professional activity.

3. Students are not evaluated regularly

When the objectives are clear, students should be frequently evaluated to determine whether they are reaching (or close to) their target levels. Evaluations should be done at least once per  semester; at the end of each semester. These evaluations can include a level test and personal feedback from the professor for not only the student but also for his superiors and the company’s human resources department.

4. Regular evaluations do not show significant progress

Naturally, these evaluations should show that students  are improving. It is thus important to follow up on each student and her individual objectives; her learning achievements based on her language level; her role at the company; and the ease (or difficulty) with which she is learning the language. It is important to bear in mind that we all learn foreign languages at a different place.

5. The progress of the students does not correspond to the proposed objectives

The progress of students should be assessed to guarantee that they are in fact progressing, but also to verify that their progress corresponds to the objectives established when the course began. If the student has read three new fables by La Fontaine during the semester, he may in fact have progressed, but it is doubtful that what he learned will be useful for the company…

6. Students are frequently absent

One of the most common problems of language courses for companies is the number of classes missed by employees—especially executives. For this very reason, it is important that the business managers and human resources establish a maximum number of accepted absences and make employees aware of the investment being made in language courses.

7. No one is talking in the classroom

If you walk by the classroom and only hear the sound of  pencils on paper or the sighs of students gazing down at a grammar or conjugation exercise, something isn’t right. A company language course should be lively and involve plenty of conversation, no matter where in the world it is taking place.

8. Students are not excited about learning

Try this: stand right outside the door when class is over. If students don’t come out talking excitedly or exchanging thoughts about the new language, something isn’t right. Learning a language should be a fun and motivating process! We’ve all been through this before: when something is boring, it becomes a lot harder to learn…

9. Not enough class time

Check the hours of the language courses your company offers: each student should be spending at least two hours a week in class. With less than two hours per week, progress will be too slow to justify the investment.

10. Outdated learning materials

Do the books you are using look a lot like the French or Spanish books you had in high school? That’s not a good sign. In both French language courses and other  languages, teaching methods have evolved. Today’s methods and tools are more effective—no offense to traditionalists. Ask the teachers who work at your company to use the latest materials.

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