When Serge Desjardins — manager at the Meteorological Service of Canada, a division of the government department Environment and Climate Change Canada — came across Babbel for Business, something in his head clicked.
Canada is officially a bilingual country, and especially in public service it’s encouraged to reflect this bilingualism. If employees want to progress in their careers, they need to speak both languages. However, large parts of the country are predominantly English-speaking, which makes learning French challenging. That’s why Serge was looking for a language learning solution that would expose as many employees as possible to the other language and spark interest in becoming bilingual.
He was looking for a flexible language program that caters to the many employees who work in shifts and also enables continuous learning. That’s why he was excited when he came across Babbel. With its flexible model and bite-size lessons, his team can learn French or English on their breaks or on their way to and from work. Additionally, the offering is less expensive and less time-consuming than classroom lessons, and Serge can keep track of his team’s progress with online usage reports.
As someone who had learned English as a second language himself, Serge decided to support his learners on their language learning journey and design a strategy that would help his team form learning habits that would last. He developed some creative and engaging methods to keep his learners engaged and excited about language. Here’s how he does it:
Tip 1: Write encouraging emails
Serge sends out regular personal emails to his team, reminding them to learn, congratulating the front runners, and encouraging those who have fallen behind. In all his communications, he uses a fun “Lord of the Ring” analogy, acting as Sauron, who is watching his learners. Like this, he is able to strike the right balance between good humor and stern instruction, which means his team pays attention to his emails, takes their learning path seriously, and has fun while doing so.
Furthermore, his emails are bilingual, giving the learners a chance to practice their new language right away.
Tip 2: Take advantage of usage reports
ers. Serge says that although it’s up to the person to be disciplined, it’s the reports that hold them accountable. Adding this fun competitive edge is a great way to gamify the language learning experience. In addition, this sparks team spirit, motivating the learners by bringing them together.
Tip 3: Encourage regular learning
Serge, as a veteran language learner, understands that in order to become proficient fast, learners must be exposed to their new language regularly. That’s why he set a target of a minimum of 30 minutes of learning time to each person per week, which he can also track using Babbel’s online usage reports. He calls this the rule of Sauron. When a team member repeatedly fails to reach their target, they risk losing their Babbel access and it being transferred to another employee. This might seem harsh, but it definitely keeps them on track and means there is something at stake. In addition, Serge encourages employees to set specific times in their week dedicated to learning. This helps establish a routine.
Tip 4: Act as a role model yourself
Serge leads by example. While his group is learning French or English, two languages he already speaks fluently, he decided to start learning Spanish. This is invaluable for a learning manager to do. Employees are far more likely to complete tasks when their managers are completing them as well. They understand that it demonstrates a willingness to learn, which reflects well on them professionally. It also means Serge is able to relate to his team, and give specific Babbel learning tips from his own experience.
Tip 5: Use Babbel certificates
Babbel offers certificates that learners can download after completing lessons. Serge encourages his learners to keep these as a proof of progress and to keep track of their individual learning path. Besides, certificates are a great way to see what they’ve achieved and be proud of their learning success.
Serge Desjardins is a great example of a fun and effective learning motivator. Introducing new habits to your team is never easy, especially when workloads are heavy and capacity is stretched. However, language learning should be seen as a break from the daily workload and used as a space to improve and challenge one’s abilities.
Serge’s tactics have proven to be a success. Employees feel motivated by Serge’s use of reports and have made quick progress in their language learning as a result. Serge recommended Babbel to other teams across the country who adopted his high-energy approach to language learning.
We understand that not everybody has time to implement these processes, so we recommend you start small — perhaps by rewarding the learner with the highest usage numbers, or sending a reminder email each week — and see how your team responds. Besides, our account management team is here to support you and is happy to help make your Babbel experience a success!
Lilly Miner, Expert for Digital Learning
Lilly focuses on different learning methods. Whether online learning or blended learning – the motivation of the learners is particularly important to her.