Team Development: Put Language Learning on the Agenda for 2021

Team Development: Put Language Learning on the Agenda for 2021 -unless-

All around the world, 2020 has proven to be one of the most chaotic and unstable years in recent memory — and companies and individuals alike are more than ready to bid it farewell and look towards 2021. Though every new year brings new opportunities to re-evaluate the old ways of doing things, the volatility and rapid social and technological changes of 2020 have valuable lessons to teach us about the future. The rules of life and business are changing, and we may need to change to keep up.

There are countless companies out there who have wanted to change their approach to business and prepare for an increasingly remote and freelance workforce and an increasingly global marketplace. For those companies, that change means putting language learning firmly on the agenda in 2021. Although many businesses may want to make these changes, there’s still uncertainty about how to implement corporate language learning programs that will be effective and pay off in the long run. While using Babbel for Business’s scientifically proven approach is a great start, ensuring that companies get the most out of language learning depends on clear development strategies and clear goals and milestones.

Team leaders can use these four tips to get started:

1. Use SMART goals.

Though it’s great to set goals, some goal-setting methods are better than others. One of the best ways to set goals your entire team can achieve is by setting SMART Goals, meaning goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound. This means rather than setting a goal that all employees will speak better Spanish by the end of the year, a goal could be to hold a full work meeting in Spanish at the end of a quarter by scheduling 10-15 minutes of Spanish practice time each day — the latter will be much more effective!

2. Use routines and environment to your advantage.

While Babbel for Business’s products have been proven to effectively strengthen language skills in just 15 minutes a day, routine and regularity is what makes this approach work — and you can strengthen it by being specific about what you’re learning and anchoring it into your environment. To take the goal above of having a work meeting in Spanish, team leaders can both schedule time every day to let employees learn… and put notes on objects around the office labelling them in Spanish. With a little creativity, you can accelerate learning throughout the day with little additional effort!


3. Use competition and games to increase motivation.

Choosing a program that lets users direct their own learning is critical to long-term success in language learning, but it can be helpful to offer additional incentives as well. As a study from the Universidad del Este in Puerto Rico showed, using games can be a good way to increase motivation and retention in second language learning. In addition to the other strategies mentioned, companies can track how often employees spend time learning a second language and give small prizes or awards to employees who show the most engagement over time.


4. Reinforce your language learning with an innovative work culture.

As explained by Gary P. Pisano in the Harvard Business Review, the most innovative cultures contain many contradictions. They are experimental, but highly disciplined; they create psychological safety, but also encourage brutally honest feedback — and effective language learning mirrors these contradictions almost perfectly! To use the first example again, to run an end-of-quarter meeting in a second language, all employees will need to be technically competent enough in the language with relevant vocabulary by a certain time — but they will also need to feel psychologically safe and trusting enough to fully express themselves and experiment in this new language, even if it means making mistakes. Companies that can strike this balance will be perfectly poised for the future.

As 2020 has shown us, the business world may still be dealing with COVID-19 difficulties for some time. In light of that change, the world has seen an accelerated shift to more remote and international teams — and though that brings plenty of opportunity, it also adds new managerial and communication challenges. Fortunately, organizations that add a robust language learning program into their corporate culture can solve many organizational issues all at once — all while expanding business opportunities, improving the bottom line, and increasing employee fulfillment for a more vibrant 2021.


Learn more about the advantages of language learning for companies here.
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