Why Self-Study and Intrinsic Motivation Are Key to Corporate Language Learning

Lilly Miner -unless-

Companies all around the world are setting their priorities for an ever more volatile business world. As businesses around the world use remote teams, adopt new technologies, and lean into globalization, the need to innovate old practices becomes more important than ever. To position themselves for the business world of the future, many companies are looking at embracing corporate language learning programs… but many are wondering how to implement these programs most effectively.

Language learning is a great goal for companies to embrace — it enables teams to improve internal and external communication processes and creates a more positive and inclusive team culture. However, it can be difficult to know how to implement training programs to ensure that your team succeeds. Choosing a scientifically proven method like Babbel for Business is a great start, and finding creative ways to tap into your employees’ motivation is another key strategy — more specifically, their sense of intrinsic motivation.

Why good self-study is key for language learning

As explained in the dictionary of the American Psychological Association (APA), intrinsic motivation is an incentive to do a certain activity that comes from the pleasure of doing it — and not because doing it will earn them extrinsic benefits like a financial reward. Though extrinsic motivators are an important tool to keep teams disciplined and on-track, promoting a culture of language learning isn’t as simple as encouraging punctuality in turning in reports, for example. To be most successful, companies have to engage their employees’ sense of curiosity and adventure, setting them up to be life-long learners. To accomplish that, encouraging employees in self-study is crucial.

As one study from the Journal of Memory and Language reports, self-study gives the advantage of choosing which parts of a curriculum to focus on, and restudy can improve their performance. It plays a particularly important role in adult learning, though each person’s success is determined in large part by their specific habits, goal-setting, and motivation for the task at hand. While that intrinsic motivation has to come from each person on their own, companies can help develop a culture that draws out that motivation by rethinking how they approach HR. 

How good HR can spark employees’ intrinsic motivation

While HR is a vital part of any strong company, its influence can often be overlooked. Though the department deals with employees and administrative duties, it can also have a major effect on driving the entire corporate culture. Because innovation through language learning is such an important part of Babbel’s own corporate culture (and earned us a nod as Fast Company’s Most Innovative Company in 2016), these are strategies we use among ourselves as well!

As a former HR Manager for Babbel, Aleksandra Polyudova has her own insights on how to create cultures that empower employees to learn. “It was only at Babbel that I learned that as part of L&D we can genuinely promote and influence the corporate culture,” she said. “If we approach this at the same level as our employees and not as dictators, our work will be enriching on both sides… I see my task as encouraging [people] to think for themselves.”

By spending time to create business cultures that build trust and lower walls between employees and management, the result is a more engaged team that thinks differently about themselves. Rather than just being a cog in a machine, each person is a valued individual with their own agency — and their own intrinsic motivations. Within this kind of culture, offering Babbel as a language learning program is a perfect tool.

For self-study, Babbel for Business is the industry leader

Because each company has different needs, Babbel offers a suite of products that can help companies of all sizes at any stage of development. The most flexible and self-directed option is Babbel Professional, offering access to all content on the language learning platform. This can be paired with 1:1 video lessons or group video lessons to make learning even more effective.

Companies get access to onboarding materials, business learning paths, and support for 14 different languages. On teams that already have a strong culture of employee self-empowerment and collaboration, Babbel Professional can be a great asset as users can effectively improve their language skills by practicing for only 10 to 15 minutes a day. 

In all, companies looking at language learning need to choose a learning method that is effective, scientifically proven, and that they can trust. Even so, it must also be flexible enough to adapt to each company’s unique culture and promote life-long language skills sparked by intrinsic motivation. When employees understand on a deep level why learning languages is a joy in a business and personal context, their skills and confidence will soar — and Babbel for Business is the perfect place to start.


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.

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