So you think quality language training is expensive? Think again.

Balancing cost and quality in language training

Countless online articles highlight the benefits of learning a new language in terms of business impact for your company, career development for individuals, and even cognitive well-being. But very few, if any, investigate the actual duration and cost of quality language training.

It is not that simple: the price will vary significantly whether you consider a year-long e-learning license or weekly private tutoring. Altogether, the US foreign service institute estimates it takes anywhere between 480 and 720 hours to reach basic fluency in a foreign language (we are not even talking full professional proficiency). Let’s say it can get quite expensive.

As a language training company that offers e-learning, blended learning, and trainer-led options, we get to ponder what makes language training expensive, what makes it efficient, and how you can balance cost and quality to get the best of both worlds. To understand this, we first need to figure out what makes language training expensive.

Why is language training expensive?

Like in any field, what makes something expensive is what is not scalable, whether it is due to scarcity, supply and demand, geographical dependence, or workforce. In language training, there are four main expenditure items:

  • Consulting: each company, indeed every person has their own challenges. Identifying these challenges and putting together a customized program to meet these needs cannot be overlooked or done in haste.

  • Content writing or material purchase: at Learnship, no less than 20 people work together to develop and adapt new content to ensure the most authentic learning experience. In September 2022 only, nine new courses were launched. It is key to offering up-to-date and relatable material to learners.

  • Trainer time: Human interaction is the one way to practice a language until you become fully confident and fluent. Otherwise, you can merely understand it. Working with the best-qualified trainers in the industry does come with a price.

  • A long process: Probably too much of our collateral starts with “learning a new language can take years of hard work.” But it does. There is no shortcut to becoming fluent; it just takes dedication, time, and practice. Thus money.

Now, you may be surprised to learn that what makes the quality of language training is not necessarily what is the costliest.

What makes the quality of language training?

  • Accurate proficiency assessment ensures a course’s difficulty level is perfectly balanced to get the learner out of their comfort zone without losing them.

  • A precise study plan of reachable proficiency goals and skills gives the learner a sense of progress, achievement, and a shot of adrenaline that keeps them going.

  • Spot-on vocabulary & content make it all the more relatable for your learners and impactful in their daily life.

  • A sound pedagogical approach. It can mean varying activities to keep the attention high or relying on the teaching expertise of your trainers.

  • Oral practice: you can learn a lot about surfing by reading magazines, but you will never be a successful surfer if you don’t stand on that board at some point.

So… how do you balance cost and quality?

Considering where the costs are and where the quality lies, here’s how Learnship designed a course that combines the best of both worlds: Sprint.

  1. Automated onboarding: We reduce human intervention and empower learners by streamlining the onboarding, from online assessment to course selection and scheduling. Of course, we monitor everything, and there’s always someone ready to jump in to guide you and support you.

  2. Content that covers just what you need: Our teams have been developing a range of off-the-shelf courses covering business language applied to the most sought business skills, job roles, and industries. As each program is short, business relevant, and ultra-focused, personalization is unnecessary; you can mix and match different skills like you would assemble building blocks. Or choose to improve your overall language proficiency with our CEF-level-based courses. Each course comes with a clear and detailed study plan, so you know where you’re going and can track your progress.

  3. Less trainer time means more oral practice: it may sound a little counterintuitive, so let us explain. We make the best of trainer time by flipping the classroom. Learners learn new vocabulary and skills at their own pace with digital activities. They then spend all of their trainer-led session practicing and getting personalized feedback until they are fully confident and fluent.

  4. Optimizing and staggering the training budget: With shorter, more affordable courses, you can deploy them over a year or two, carrying on a culture of continuous learning.

That, in a nutshell, is the whole concept behind Sprint, our fast-paced, impactful learning solution: you get the affordability of a digital learning solution and the quality of a trainer-led course.

As an L&D manager, how do I ensure the best value for money?

It may be bold, but quality language training has never been about the price tag. It is about matching the right product with the right audience. If you are looking to train your whole company, you will get the best value for money with an e-learning solution – even if there will be discrepancies in the speed of learning. But you may want to go for a coach-led course if you need a highly customized executive solution. With Sprint, we are confident we found the right balance between cost and quality – but there will never be a one-size-fits-all solution.