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  • A business woman stood at a desk with a computer with two colleagues sat at the desk
    • Business and employability
    • The Global Scale of English

    8 ways language training can transform your business

    By Pearson Languages
    Reading time: 5 minutes

    Around 20% of the world's population speaks English, making it an integral component in global business operations. But the question remains for business leaders and HR professionals: how can language learning, specifically, business English courses, drive your organization forward? Here are 8 ways language training can impact your business.

  • Two coworkers stood in a office looking at a tablet together.
    • Business and employability

    Evaluating the ROI of Language Learning for DEI Initiatives

    By Pearson Languages
    Reading time: 5 minutes

    Language learning has become a pivotal component of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) strategies in forward-thinking organizations, especially for those with international workforces or those working to unlock new markets across the globe.

    As businesses increasingly prioritize workforce development and social responsibility, integrating language training into DEI programs offers several advantages:

    • Enriching team morale and employee well-being.
    • Increasing employee engagement, loyalty and trust.
    • Delivering fresh ideas and fostering innovation.
    • Enhancing problem-solving and decision-making capabilities.
    • Strengthening customer relationships and amplifying brand reputation.
  • Two women in a pottery room talking over a laptop
    • Business and employability
    • Language hints and tips

    Cutting through corporate English: Clearer alternatives to business jargon

    By Pearson Languages
    Reading time: 4 minutes

    The corporate world can often feel like an echo chamber of confusing phrases. Terms like "blue-sky thinking" and "tiger teams" might dominate conversation in boardrooms and email chains, but what do they actually mean in practice and are they the best way to communicate?

    This blog post simplifies workplace English by offering straightforward business English alternatives to common corporate jargon. These replacements will resonate with fluent English language speakers and ease communication with non-fluent English speakers who are vital contributors to the workplace. Plus, a clearer form of communication can help foster inclusivity, improve understanding and ultimately enhance productivity.

    What is corporate jargon?

    Corporate jargon refers to the very specialized vocabulary and language used within the business world, often characterized by buzzwords, acronyms, jargon and phrases that are usually unknown to outsiders.

    Why should we avoid professional jargon?

    Jargon often acts as a barrier to clear communication, creating an environment where messages are misunderstood or misinterpreted. This misunderstanding can lead to inefficiencies, errors and frustrations among team members, particularly those who may not be fluent English speakers or are new to the corporate environment.

    Furthermore, overusing complex language can unintentionally exclude or push away parts of the workforce, undermining efforts to build an inclusive and collaborative team culture. In essence, simplifying language and avoiding unnecessary jargon can make available information more accessible to a wider audience and ensure that all team members have the necessary information to contribute effectively to their roles.

    For example, let's look at "think outside the box." It means to think in new ways, but it's said so much that it doesn't really grab attention anymore. A better way to say this might be "think creatively" or "come up with new ideas." Also, the word "synergize" really just means to work well together for better results. Saying "work together effectively" is much clearer and easier for everyone to understand, no matter if they're used to business terms or not. Using simple words helps everyone get the idea faster, making the workplace more welcoming and efficient.

    The difference between English jargon and slang

    Jargon functions as a shorthand among professionals, representing complex concepts among those in the know. Slang is less formal than jargon, often coming from cultural or societal trends and used more in casual conversations.

    An example of jargon vs slang

    An example of jargon and slang could be comparing "low-hanging fruit" to "no-brainer." "Low-hanging fruit" is a piece of jargon that refers to tasks, projects or targets that are easily achievable and do not require much effort.

    On the other hand, "no-brainer" is slang that implies something is an obvious or easy decision, often used in more informal settings. While both terms convey the idea of simplicity and ease, "low-hanging fruit" is more likely to be used in strategic meetings or project planning sessions, whereas "no-brainer" might be used in informal discussions or brainstorming sessions.

    Examples of jargon and their plain English alternatives

    Blue-sky thinking

    Avoid saying, "We need some blue-sky thinking." Instead, use, "Approach this problem with unlimited creativity."

    Helicopter view

    Avoid saying, "Give me a helicopter view of the situation." Instead, use, "Provide a broad overview of the situation."

    Get all your ducks in a row

    Avoid saying, "Before the busy season, get all your ducks in a row." Instead, use, "Ensure you're well-organized before the busy period begins."

    Thinking outside the box

    Avoid saying, "This client expects us to think outside the box." Instead, use, "The client expects unique and unconventional ideas from us."

    IGUs (Income Generating Units)

    Avoid saying, "Our goal is to increase our IGUs this quarter." Instead, use, "Our goal is to increase our student enrolments this quarter."

    Run it up the flagpole

    Avoid saying, "That's a great idea. Run it up the flagpole." Instead, use, "That's a great idea. Share it with the team for their input."

    Swim lanes

    Avoid saying, "To understand your tasks, refer to the swim lanes." Instead, use, "Refer to the job responsibility diagram to understand your tasks."

    Bleeding edge

    Avoid saying, "This new software is bleeding edge." Instead, use, "This new software represents the latest in research and technological innovation."

    Tiger team

    Avoid saying, "We'll need a tiger team to tackle this project." Instead, use, "We'll assemble a specialized task force for this project."

    While some professionals may use jargon to appear more knowledgeable, the truth is that simplicity is key. Clear and straightforward language not only levels the playing field for everyone but also cuts through possible misunderstandings.

    The case for plain business English

    In today's global business environment, where interactions occur across diverse linguistic backgrounds and languages, it's paramount to ensure that our words are as clear and simple as possible. By favoring plain English vocabulary over opaque jargon, we promote an inclusive and efficient workplace where every member, fluent or not, understands and contributes to their fullest potential.

    Continue to seek clarity in your communications. Remember that the true mark of expertise is not using complex language but making complex concepts understandable for everyone. Keep challenging yourself to simplify your language without diluting the meaning of your message. Remember, whether you're a seasoned professional or a new recruit, clear communication will always be your strongest asset.

    If you or your team are looking to improve their business English skills, check out our business English courses and blog posts for up-to-date tips.

  • a group of young business people chatting toether
    • Business and employability
    • Diversity and inclusion

    Unconscious bias in the workplace: Overcoming DEI barriers through language learning

    By Pearson Languages

    Reading time: 7.5 minutes

    Unconscious bias: it's a quiet murmur in the corridors of our workplaces that can grow into a loud echo, shaping decisions and team dynamics in ways that may go unnoticed. In our collective quest for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), recognizing and tackling these biases is not just important—it's essential.

    By embarking on this path, we create workplaces where everyone feels valued and heard. If you're an HR professional, a leader, or a diversity consultant, it’s essential to always keep this in mind in every aspect of the workplace. Today, let's explore how language learning can be a valuable ally in breaking down the barriers created by unconscious bias.

  • A business woman sat at a desk with a laptop and notepad. She is writing in the notepad.
    • Business and employability

    How to power your DE&I strategy and drive global growth with language learning

    By Pearson Languages
    Reading time: 3 minutes

    When you get them right, great diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) strategies transform businesses, and language proficiency plays a crucial role. We know that investing in DE&I initiatives promotes a sense of belonging and connection, and ultimately delivers stronger business results. Whether you’re looking to boost profitability, staff attraction and retention or performance, proactive DE&I initiatives are central to overall business success.

    This blog is adapted from our PDF article of the same name. Download that version here.

    Implementing a commitment to DE&I alongside expertly designed language training and development will also:

    • Widen and diversify your talent pool.
    • Foster a culture of ongoing learning.
    • Boost employee engagement, loyalty and trust.
    • Improve team morale, mental health and well-being.
    • Help generate fresh ideas and new perspectives.
    • Develop problem-solving and decision-making skills.
    • Build better relationships with customers and help you gain better customer insight.
    • Enhance your brand and company’s reputation.

    That’s quite a list, and it can all be catalyzed by building language proficiency.

    Leaders are committing to building better cross-cultural communication and English language proficiency because they understand that better language skills mean a stronger, more meaningful DE&I strategy for their organization.

    How to embed effective language learning that supports DE&I in your organization

    1. Make it clear that language learning for all is a top-level commitment as part of your DE&I initiatives.
    2. Communicate the benefits and advantages of ongoing language learning and development, along with the link between language and crosscultural understanding and inclusivity.
    3. Support a diverse recruitment strategy by embedding language assessment in your talent acquisition initiatives. Measure candidates’ current language skill levels in a fair and equitable way using a resource such as Versant by Pearson. (Pearson TalentLens has developed a set of inclusive best practice assessment steps for HR professionals to incorporate over time.)
    4. Implement and embed easy-to-use and accessible language resources in your learning and development initiatives. Platforms such as Mondly by Pearson are flexible, relevant and engaging and give employees autonomy on their learning journey.
    5. Create excitement to promote buy-in. Make language learning part of your company culture and experiment with ways in which to do this.
    6. Communicate milestones and progress, gain inclusive and regular feedback, celebrate successes and always promote a culture of collaboration.

    There will always be challenges associated with implementing, embedding and promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in a company. But by prioritizing language learning, you will propel business growth throughout your organization—unlocking international opportunities, improving internal and external communication, enabling better collaboration, and turbo-charging your talent acquisition.

    At the very heart of a truly diverse, equitable and inclusive environment lies a multi-level commitment to better communication, in all the various forms it takes across your organization. Prioritizing language proficiency is one of the most dynamic ways to reinforce DE&I in your business.

    If you found this article interesting and want to learn more, download the full PDF version. It features what to focus on as a leader and more about how language learning powers DE&I efforts.

    Find out more about how language training and assessment can drive your business forward by checking out our resources for HR professionals, including articles, whitepapers and research.

  •  A group of business people clapping their hands
    • Business and employability

    3 ways to boost employee retention with language learning

    By Pearson Languages
    Reading time: 4 minutes

    Did you know? According to our research, employees who work for a company that provides English language training are more than twice as likely to say they are very satisfied at work, compared to those working in companies that do not.

    To retain top talent in an increasingly competitive marketplace, all evidence points to developing communication and language skills.

    Communication: the most in-demand business skill

    Pearson’s Skills Outlook Summary 2023 showed that communication skills including English language skills are the most in-demand power skills across the board. PwC’s Global Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey 2022 agrees: the top five predictors for employee turnover all had the same themes in common – communication, empathy and listening skills.

    According to Gallup, a focus on developing employees’ strengths (as opposed to focusing on fixing weaknesses) can lead to a 20-73% reduction in employee attrition. That’s a startling statistic and one that has the potential to transform your business.

    So, the message is clear: by investing in your employees’ existing communication and language strengths, you’re helping them refine a comprehensive range of business power skills. In turn, this will make them feel more engaged and therefore far more likely to stay with you.

    3 ways to implement English training to retain top talent

    Let’s explore three ways to implement an English language skills learning and development plan that underpins communication skills, refines business soft skills and makes your employees want to stay.

    1. Find out what training employees want

    To tailor a culture of learning that supports the development of your employees’ language and communication skills, you’ll find it helpful to get their input first. Survey and interview your team to better understand current barriers to language-specific learning, skills gaps, preferred learning styles and current frustrations.

    For example, is it speaking, listening or reading English that they currently struggle with the most? The better you understand your employees’ needs, the more consulted and engaged with the process they’ll feel.

    2. Reward those who commit to language learning

    In 2023, Forbes outlined 15 strategies to make your employees stay, and perhaps unsurprisingly, reward featured strongly. Your performance management system should include a structure that acknowledges employees who are committing to achieving their objectives and developing their skills, and demonstrates the career trajectory that might be possible with improved communication and language skills.

    What that looks like will differ from organization to organization, but it’s important that employees understand the potential opportunities that come with refining their language skills.

    3. Promote the link between language skills and career progression

    Your employees may not naturally make the link between developing language skills and career progression, so help them understand how better language skills can help them move forward in their role and how you will support them in this.

    When they see that language skills have been built into their development plans, they’ll feel invested in staying with your organization and developing their skills with you.

    In a world where communication-based soft skills are more valuable than ever before, the ability to confidently converse in different languages within a business context is an impressive skill that’s transferable to a multitude of other business soft skills, such as teamwork, leadership and problem-solving.

    Once they understand the full range of benefits that come with developing their language skills, they’ll be grateful that you’re committed to helping them do that and will be more likely to stay.

    Boost your workforce’s English language skills and reap the business benefits

    It’s clear that when employees feel that their communication skills are improving, they feel a sense of continued progression and engagement – not only in their language abilities but also across a range of other business power skills.

    The key to retaining talent lies in increasing engagement, and since higher engagement rates are linked to 21% more productivity, according to Gallup, there really is no better way to retain a happy workforce.

    Start building your team’s English language skills

    Learn how Mondly by Pearson can help you reinforce a culture of learning and retain top talent within your organization, with flexible English language learning solutions for your business.

    If you liked this blog post and want to learn more, download the PDF report here.

    Find out more about how language training and assessment can drive your business forward by checking out our resources for HR professionals, including articles, whitepapers and research.

  • Office works stood in a cubicle and in a hallway talking
    • Business and employability

    Goal setting: A path to achieving team fluency

    By Pearson Languages

    Reading time: 5 minutes

    We know businesses that invest in skills development are more likely to retain top talent, and see many other benefits as well. Upskilling your team's English proficiency can have a transformative effect on the business, leading to new opportunities, growth, and a more engaged workforce. However, implementing a corporate language learning program can be challenging. Using traditional goal-setting frameworks can support you and your team on this journey. Here's how:

  • two colleagues working outdoors talking to eachother over a laptop and paperwork
    • Business and employability

    The role of English proficiency in a global organization

    By Pearson Languages
    Reading time: 4 minutes

    To compete in the modern business space, many organizations are shifting to a more global way of working.

    The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated digital transformation and globalization across industries but, as many businesses look now to sustaining future growth, the question is: what powers a successful, global organization?

    Why English proficiency is key to unlocking international success

    According to Pearson’s 2022 Power Skills Survey, one of the biggest factors in effective workplace globalization is the use of English as a common language. The report states “Adopting a common language and ensuring that the entire workforce can access it has become more important than ever before.”

    It points to statistics from rising economies in Southeast Asia, showcasing the strength of English use and their respective booming industries:

    • In Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest economy in terms of GDP, the service sector employs nearly half of the country’s local workforce.
    • In Thailand, nearly 60% of the country’s GDP is generated by tourism and export-oriented production. Vietnam, one of APAC’s fastest-growing markets and a rising manufacturing powerhouse, counts the US among its top trading partners.
    • The Philippines’ business process outsourcing (BPO) sector, a key pillar of the country’s economy, employs 1.3 million people.

    The power of effective communication

    Pearson’s 2022 Power Skills Survey is a drop in the ocean of reports hailing effective communication as one of the top factors to both personal and business success. Good communicators have been linked to higher performance in school, at work and in their personal lives. It is no surprise then that good communicators are highly sought after by talent recruiters.

    With many businesses moving to hiring outside of traditional location boundaries, more languages are inevitable in the workplace. So, can good communication transcend language barriers?

    As the statistics gathered by the Power Skills Survey show, there is evidence that sharing one common language, and therefore enabling more effective communication, can improve business opportunities, workforce growth and ultimately the economy. In the survey report, Norlida Azmi, Group Chief People Officer at Axiata, said:

    “Communication is a critical skill that sets the foundation for not only leadership competencies, such as people management and coalition building, but also for wider and effective stakeholder management in the ecosystem – communicating with our shareholders, customers and the communities that we operate in.”

    English: the official language of business

    While communication for globalization can look different for different markets, the English language is recognized as the prevailing choice for multinational companies. The Harvard Business Review says:

    “The need to tightly coordinate tasks and work with customers and partners worldwide has accelerated the move toward English as the official language of business.”

    So, with businesses now fighting to grow in a global marketplace, unlocking the power of the English language is crucial to success.

    Assessing English proficiency within your organization

    The survey shows that many organizations have work to do in this area, even if they view strong English proficiency as extremely important to their roles. It details the current state of assessing candidates’ English language proficiency and the percentage of organizations that have strategies in place to upskill their employees English proficiency. Both leave room for improvement.

    According to the survey, the number one way talent acquisition managers test English language skills is at the interview (58%), although 37% aren't measuring English language skills at all. This can be problematic later down the line, as not all four language skills (reading, writing, speaking and listening) will be accurately represented in an interview.

    Meanwhile, 27% of businesses use computer-based tests and 14% use paper-based tests to assess English language proficiency. By getting standardized test results, talent managers can more accurately assess if candidates’ English proficiency is suitable for the role, making for more confident and successful hires.

    Strategies for English upskilling

    Talent managers can also pass on these insights to learning and development managers to help them implement effective English language upskilling programs. While this investment can empower employees to perform better in their new role, it may also improve employee retention and even lead to succession and impact business growth.

     Whether organizations choose to hire new talent with higher levels of English proficiency or invest in learning and development programs to build their employees’ language skills, there are tools available to help.

    Pearson Language Solutions for Work enables talent and learning and development managers to fast-track and simplify their recruitment and training processes, giving you total confidence that your candidates and employees have the English language skills to drive your business forward. Find the best language assessment and learning solutions for your organization here.

    Drive your business forward with language training

    If you liked this blog post and want to learn more, download our PDF report here.

    Find out more about how language training and assessment can drive your business forward by checking out our resources for HR professionals, including articles, whitepapers and research.

  • Group of business people working together at a table
    • Business and employability

    5 ways language learning can energize your organization’s DE&I strategy

    By Pearson Languages
    Reading time: 3 minutes

    Developing collective language proficiency is one of the most dynamic ways you can promote and invigorate diversity, equity and inclusion within your organization. Here’s why.

    If you want to save this for later, download the PDF here.

    There’s an often-overlooked core workplace skill that, when prioritized within learning and development programs and hiring processes, has the power to energize your diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives - sparking huge potential for international business growth.

    That core skill is language proficiency. Effective and inclusive language has the power to reinforce diversity, helping employees express themselves authentically and promoting a sense of belonging across teams.

    We know that diversity drives positive business outcomes (companies in the top 25% for ethnic and cultural diversity were 36% more profitable than those in the bottom 25%, a McKinsey survey found). It follows, then, that embracing English language learning across your organization is one of the most effective ways to reinforce your DE&I strategy, unlocking business growth across existing and new markets.

    The message that resonates in Pearson’s Skills Report Outlook 2022 is that the most in-demand power skills today are not technical but human, soft skills, like communication. Being able to communicate confidently powers all other business skills and strengthens your DE&I strategy—a strategic imperative for businesses.

    Forward-thinking companies know that the driving force behind a truly inclusive workplace is language learning. Let’s explore why investing in language skills is the key DE&I enabler that can help unlock your organization’s potential for growth.

    5 ways improved language skills can advance DE&I in your organization

    1. Better language skills mean more confident communicators

    Strong relationships are the bedrock of an inclusive workplace, and language learning refines core business communication skills like active listening, negotiation, conflict resolution and empathy. Confident communicators can influence, persuade and help advocate a positive DE&I narrative for your business, inspiring others to speak up along the way.

    2. Language learning promotes collaboration

    Upskilling your team in language proficiency helps to break down language barriers and allows for more inclusive participation and collaboration across diverse groups. Better language skills enable trust to be built and maintained among teams and can promote more inclusive decision-making processes too.

    3. Language development fosters a sense of belonging

    Gallup says that a sense of belonging develops when identities align. Employees want their individual identity to align with the company’s identity, creating a feeling of connection and belonging. Building English language proficiency helps to cultivate a welcoming environment where everyone feels a sense of belonging. When employees can express themselves and contribute their thoughts and feelings, they feel like an important and integral part of the team.

    4. Enhanced language skills spark fresh perspectives

    Developing language skills unlocks the door to more diverse views and new ideas. It encourages and empowers employees to have the confidence to voice their opinions. Fresh perspectives and ideas that come from language learning don’t just reinforce your existing DE&I initiatives—they can also unlock new opportunities and drive positive business outcomes.

    5. Language proficiency helps you tap into new markets

    We know that companies that invest in DE&I are 70% more likely to capture a new market. To thrive in an increasingly global marketplace, organizations are driving language learning to boost market access and open the door to new customer segments. To reach those new markets, you must be able to speak the language fluently, understand its cultural nuances, and communicate effectively to build effective and authentic relationships.

    Energize your organizational DE&I strategy by unlocking more confident communicators with Mondly by Pearson—a suite of language learning solutions designed to develop employees’ language skills with flexible, engaging and workplace-relevant content.

    Want to find out more about powering your DE&I strategy and driving global growth with language learning?