Corporate language learning is a cocktail of teaching methods and ways of motivating students. Without a well-structured methodology, they're likely to lose interest and end up learning less than they should. That's why many companies decide to look for fresh, unconventional approaches, like Hyundai Motor Spain has done.
When Sonia Jadraque, Head of Human Resources at Hyundai Motor Spain, decided that the company's employees needed a real change of pace in language learning, she knew it would be no easy task. For some time, the company had used a face-to-face provider for English classes and employees had become quite used to this. "But nobody was learning anything" as Sonia Jadraque openly admits.
"Language lessons had been taught at the company for many years, but I could see our targets weren’t being met" After taking some time to think, the Human Resources department saw that there was a real need for change. "I was quite sure that I wanted to switch training providers. Language lessons had been taught at the company for many years, but I could see our targets weren't being met. The face-to-face lessons followed a very traditional model. Employees were under-motivated and not making much progress. The key goal of training -acquiring new skills- was not being met" explain the Head of Human Resources at Hyundai Motor Spain.
After an initial pilot, the company decided to go with Training Express as its language training provider. "We informed our people about it, had everyone take level tests, and did several explanatory presentations. The change was by no means easy. Most employees were only familiar with the previous system and provider so there was some pushback at first. Paradoxically, though, mainly of those who objected the most have finally acknowledged that, with the new approach, if you really want to learn, you can."
The online platform that Hyundai Motor Spain's employees now use is -according to Sonia Jadraque- highly motivating. Determined people who really want to learn have a vast array of resources at their fingertips that can be adapted to their own particular needs. Some employees have even decided to do many more hours of training. With telephone classes too, we have seen a great deal of improvement in language expression and comprehension skills."
Sonia Jadraque's experience in change management has taught her that when it comes to a training plan, the first key step is to identify employees' needs and the company's needs. "There must be internal communication about the benefits and achievements that are expected from that training plan. It has to be properly implemented and monitored, and clear yet flexible targets must be set. And of course you need to find the right provider. Since we have partnered with Training Express, we've found that they have very high quality standards when it comes to their products and services"
For the Spanish subsidiary of Hyundai Motor, language training is a priority. Being a Korean multinational, the common corporate language is English. "In every department, the degree of exposure to English is very high. Meetings with Korean expats in Madrid are held in English. Even internal email is written in English because we often need to report to someone who doesn't speak Spanish," explains Sonia Jadraque.
Company policy is to provide all employees who so desire with the chance to improve their language skills. Depending on each employee's duties and roles, English language training focuses on practical aspects of the business: how to take a call, how to reply to an email, how to give a presentation, and so on -including more specific topics relating to marketing and finance.