Language Readiness: Only 46% of language learners who received language training in school feel prepared to use it at work

Only 46 per cent of language learners feel the language skills they gained at school were adequate preparation for use in the workplace, a new Rosetta Stone survey of more than 5,000 business learners from around the world reveals. While a significantly high number—81 per cent—of respondents had language lessons before entering the workforce, the new results show they require additional training to get to a level where they feel confident enough to use their language skills at work. In today’s global world of business, this suggests ongoing language learning could benefit companies looking to reap the benefits of a multi-lingual workforce.

A marked difference in linguistic preparedness is seen in survey responses across geographies, with Europe and North America noticeably trailing in the results. Among respondents, employees located in Europe had the highest number of language course takers in school – 90 per cent – but only 47 per cent of them felt adequately prepared by those courses for the 21st century workplace. In North America, 80 per cent of employees surveyed had received language education in school, yet only 31 per cent felt prepared for putting their second language to use at work. In contrast, an impressive 70 per cent of respondents from the Middle East and Africa and 68 per cent from Asia-Pacific felt adequately prepared.

Panos Kraniotis, Regional Director, Europe at Rosetta Stone believes the results demonstrate that language learning should continue in the workplace to meet business needs: “Businesses tell us that language skills help employee productivity, improve relationships with customers and increase sales opportunities. These things directly impact the bottom line. We’re hearing from employees who are using their second language at work, that traditional schooling can only take things so far; to improve internal and external multi-cultural communication, businesses would do well to incorporate language training into learning and development programmes.”

With geographically spread workforces making face-to-face training difficult and a higher percentage of today’s workforce comprised of ‘digital natives’ – people familiar with technology who grew up using it – digital learning programmes can be an effective and convenient solution.

Dr. Kevin Curran, Reader in Computer Science at Ulster University says: “The future of training lies in technology. In schools, it can be tailored to the varied abilities of pupils and can engage them in an age appropriate manner. In the workplace, it is accessible and practical so it fits into today’s hectic work schedules. Technology enables self-paced learning, which works well with language learning in particular, because learners can linger on the words, phrases or grammar they need to focus on.”

Smart businesses are recognising the benefits of technology-enabled training to improve language skills in their organisations. In an earlier survey, 94 per cent of business decision makers in the UK and Germany reported at least one advantage of using e-learning for language training. Some of the many advantages considered were lower cost, faster delivery, a reduction in travel time and costs, and more effective learning. Two thirds (66 per cent) also agreed the future of language training for businesses lies in e-learning.

About the survey:
Over 900 businesses who offer Rosetta Stone language training to their employees from around the world were solicited to take part in this survey. 5,409 business users representing a range of industries – manufacturing/construction/automotive, energy and natural resources, telecommunications, technology/software, media/entertainment, pharmaceutical/biotech/healthcare, transportation and logistics, food/beverage/agriculture, retail, hospitality and finance/banking/insurance – responded to the online survey in November 2015.

A detailed summary of the survey results is available online at http://bit.ly/1qucAIX, and a graphic highlighting key statistics on how language impacts business can be accessed at http://bit.ly/1Tk6pPH