Learning a Language: How Can You Finally Achieve Your Goals?

A woman sitting on a bed using a laptop with a headset

Developing language skills is often among the top New Year’s resolutions for professionals. Here are five impactful practices that will help you get started in accomplishing your resolution this year!

Learning another language can be a game-changer. Through the exchange with business professionals who are unable to speak your mother tongue, you can develop your soft skills as well as contribute to the international business development of your company. Overall this is a win-win situation.

“Learning another language is not only learning different words for the same things, but learning another way to think about things,” – Flora Lewis.

Whether you still have reservations about embarking on an ambitious journey, or you have already chosen to move forward with your goal/objective, here are five tips that should guide you in your approach:

1. Choose the language that is right for you

Of course, English, German, French, and Spanish happen to be the languages that are most sought after by HR professionals in Western Europe. In America, Spanish and Portuguese are also popular languages.

But beyond general statistics, the real question you need to ask yourself is what your objectives are. Is it maximum employability or specialization? Don’t be afraid to distinguish yourself with a real competitive edge in the labor market:

  • Mandarin is becoming an essential aspect of international trade, be it in the import/export, luxury, industry, distribution, aeronautics, or automotive sectors.
  • Japanese and Korean are languages in high demand by employers in Asia.
  • Arabic offers opportunities in the luxury and energy sectors.

With the emergence of BRICS, languages such as Mandarin and the dialect Brazilian-Portuguese have become a high-profile asset in international trade, import-export, and tourism sectors.

2. Don’t be afraid to get started

“It seems impossible until it’s done,” – Nelson Mandela.

Every language learning journey starts with a single step, and overcoming the fear of that first step is crucial. Remember, making mistakes is a part of learning.

At Learnship, we see a substantial number of beginners and pre-intermediates (those with some previous language experience) who make up over half of our new learners. There’s no need to fear diving into an unfamiliar language. From your very first lesson, you’ll be supported by a skilled trainer who will not only put you at ease but also reinforce your confidence in your improving language skills.

Your training and HR managers are also valuable supporters who will be able to advise you. This applies to counseling you on career options within your company when you learn a specific language and to the types of financing options for your training.

3. Be patient

If you’re starting at a beginner level, you should not expect to become an interpreter at the European Commission overnight. Often you begin by taking a test at the start of the course to assess your initial level and map your expectations. Keep in mind that language programs are designed to help you progress level by level, paced to optimize your efforts and match your memory capabilities.

Many language training courses provide you with standardized certifications, such as TOEIC, Linguaskill, Pipplet, etc., at the end of the course. When you have proven successful – i.e. a certificate for having reached a standardized language level (either at a half level or full level) – you can add it to your resume and have proof of your hard-earned language learning labors.

4. Choose a format that suits you

In a professional environment requiring an ROI such as a specific goal or the achievement of tangible objectives, it is better to favor an organization specialized in business language training that uses certified teachers. In terms of the focus of the class, each participant may have their own goals of improvement, that should be discussed in-depth with an HR or direct manager. Apart from pure eLearning, the language training market offers five main options:

  • Face-to-face courses: these seem the most natural as they are a longstanding tradition in many companies. These courses have the advantage of offering an optimal framework for interaction and entertainment, despite the constraints of time and physical presence required in a chosen place.
  • Language exchanges: these have a real added value in terms of experience but require a significant (time) investment.
  • Online language training: this method requires a high-quality internet connection. It has the advantage of adapting to business travel and other family imperatives while offering real human interaction with the trainer.
  • Blended learning: a cross-platform approach to corporate language learning, generally including e-learning and/or mobile learning and (online) face-to-face training.

5. Know when to start

“The present time has an advantage over every other: it is our own,” – Charles Caleb Colton.

While we often see the New Year as a perfect moment for fresh starts, remember, about 80% of resolutions fall through. But don’t let that deter you! If learning a new language is your goal, start now but thoughtfully. Ask yourself – what do you hope to gain from this training? What kept you from starting earlier? Was it a lack of time or lack of motivation? Is language learning your decision or that of your superiors?

By asking yourself the right questions beforehand, setting clear objectives, and choosing an organization that is reliable and corresponds with your educational goals, you have all the cards in your hand to achieve your resolution.