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Learning a New Language for Business


Learning a new language is among the top 10 most common New Year’s Resolutions. As you’re probably already aware, maybe even from personal experience, only about 8% of people follow through on their resolutions. It may be tough to stick to going to the gym every day, reducing your stress, or calling your mother every Sunday. But learning a new language for business can be the resolution you actually keep. Use these tips to make it work this year.

Understand Your Goals for Learning a New Language

Learning a new language for business is different than preparing for your summer vacation in France. You don’t need to be able to order lunch at a quaint Paris café, you need to improve communication with your co-workers, employees, clients, or all of the above. Having a different goal for learning a new language requires a different learning strategy.

Go Grammar-less

Forget learning how to conjugate verbs. If you need to explain to a Spanish-speaking employee that they must call in to work when they’re sick, you really don’t need to know the difference between llamo, llamas, llama, llamanos, and so on, but you do need to know the phrase that will communicate your message. (Which, if you need it, is “Llamas si estás enfermo.”) Grammar-less language learning focuses on basic phrases to improve workplace communication and productivity. What it lacks in nuance, it makes up for in relevancy. When learning a language for business, the time you save by not learning a lot of grammar can be used to learn words and phrases specific to your industry.

Stay Away from Traditional Instruction

Generic language classes that you can take at your local community college or online won’t give you what you need to improve communication at work. These classes are usually based on traditional academic teaching strategies and not practical application. Look for different approaches where you can get immediate and personalized feedback. Custom on-site language classes, Skype instructors, and immersion programs will take you much further than any traditional class.

You Can Do It!

Just like any New Year’s resolution, commitment is key. Start with simple tasks, such as greeting your favorite client in their native language, and build from there. As you start using common phrases more frequently, the entire language will feel less intimidating. Stick with it, and you can avoid being one of those failed resolution statistics.