Research & Thought Leadership

The WIIFM question: 3 reasons why English training pays off

Johanna Kobelt

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How do you get your employees to buy into your corporate English training program? How do you create enthusiasm and motivation that leads to better and more efficient learning outcomes?

You probably found yourself emphasizing the benefits that training programs provide for the organization, such as improved international cooperation, better customer service, knowledge exchange, business expansion, to name a few. While it’s important to highlight all of these points, your employees will still ask themselves this one important question:

WIIFM – What’s in it for me?

The good news is that you can provide some substantial reasons that will help your workforce stay engaged and motivated during their training.

We have been providing language training programs to companies and individuals around the world for more than 55 years, collecting feedback from our most successful students, as well as consulting the latest research on language learning and multilingualism.

In our quest to have a better understanding of the outcomes and benefits of speaking a foreign language, our research shows clear evidence that English proficiency will not only allow your employees to communicate effectively across borders and grow your business but also from an individual perspective, it can make you smarter, richer and more successful. And here’s why:

3 reasons why English training pays off for your employees:

1. Time-saving

Employees who frequently use English at work but don’t feel fully comfortable with the language might find that it’s slowing them down in their day-to-day tasks. Whether it´s reading a report twice to get the full meaning, looking up words while writing an email or asking a colleague to help with a translation – all of this takes extra time if English skills are not up to par.

Improving your English will require time investment initially, but it saves time in the long run! Our students estimate that they save 1-2 hours at work every week by communicating more efficiently.

2. Increasing career opportunities and earning potential

With 2 billion speakers worldwide, English is the uncontested language of business. More and more multinational companies adopt English as their corporate language.

At the same time, companies are facing a skills gap among employees. Our report English Margin states that 3 out of 5 organizations worldwide have missed out on business opportunities due to a lack of English proficiency. Ultimately, better English could result in a 16% uplift in revenue.

For individuals, this means that good English skills are a great differentiator in the labor market leading to career progression. The story of Go, a language learner from Japan, proves how English may become relevant at any point in your career even when you might not expect it.

We can say that English proficiency quite literally pays off: The EF proficiency index (EPI), is the largest ranking of English skills by country and found that a higher level of English was related to a rise in per capita income. In fact, HR managers around the world have reported that job seekers with good English proficiency earn 30-50% higher salaries.

3. Keeping the brain in shape

The benefits of speaking more than one language are not only financial. There is so much more to gain. Learning and using a foreign language stimulates the brain in a unique way. Scientists have been researching the “multilingual brain” and their findings are astonishing:

Language learning strengthens the executive functions of the brain. This includes abilities such as concentrating, prioritizing and multi-tasking.

Learning a language is an exercise for the brain. Just like going to the gym and building up a muscle in your body. It has been found that multilingualism physically increases brain size and density; leading to higher intelligence.

It makes the brain more resilient, slowing down degenerative diseases like dementia.

Therefore, learning English and developing critical soft skills at the same time, should always go hand in hand.

So, the next time your employees ask the WIIFM question, you can give them plenty of reasons why English training is one of the best investments they can make – from a professional and personal perspective.

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