Why we organize English classes for our employees

Like it or not, English has become the international language of software development. Spoken across the globe by a staggering 1.75 billion people, Queen Elizabeth’s mother tongue is currently the fastest-spreading language in human history. It is safe to assume that one person in four can communicate in that language at some level. It is also estimated that the language is used by around 565 million people on the internet. What’s more, if you call any software house in Poland, you will be surprised to hear how fluently these people can speak English. You do not want to be left behind, do you?

You just can’t afford not to speak English nowadays. Companies not climbing on the bandwagon are missing out on a lot of business opportunities. What are the advantages of organizing English classes in your company? Here is our take on why organizing language courses is a must.

1. We work with clients from UK and Ireland

Lots of deals are contingent on good communication, which is even more important when your clients are scattered across the British Islands. Our clients come from UK and Ireland and, since Agile development involves a lot of communication going on between the client and the product owner (and team), there is no room for misunderstanding or faltering.

Yes, dealing with customers and business partners require one to use English, the lingua franca of software development. Of course, you may be lucky and, by a blind chance, the client will speak your own language. But counting on it is a dead end.

2. Our operating language is English

At Briisk, all our marketing communication and code documentation are in English. It certainly took some time to get there, but we knew there was no other way to do business internationally. Yes, adopting a language policy is a bumpy ride, but organizing in-company English classes is a good start. We know that many developers stumble along the way. When introducing English-only communication you can expect certain levels of resistance from your employees. Some may feel ashamed to speak in front of their colleagues, team spirit and performance can suffer in the process. Giving them a safe ground to improve their skills and not forcing them to speak English in one-to-one conversations does the charm.

And there is no other choice, really—you must teach your employees English. To successfully thrive on the demanding business landscape, software houses have to overcome their language barriers. Wherever your clients are, English will almost certainly by the common ground to do business successfully.

3. Reading good, speaking bad

Some of our developers, like most second language speakers of English, feel completely comfortable reading and writing, but they quickly lose steam when it comes to speaking. Yes, speaking is the proverbial Achilles heel of non-natives and we’re doing all we can to help people out.

English course is a nice benefit for those who badly need to crank up their skills, but even those who speak English fluently will never say no to additional classes. Speaking to a native-speaker once or twice a week will just help them be on top of their game.

Either way, there is no better way to provide your employees with “testing” environment for their language skills than in-company English classes. Attending such training (especially when the teacher is good) also makes a welcome change from coding all day, doesn’t it?

3. We hold regular demos with clients

Our biweekly demos with clients are in English, as are their questions and feedback. This means that being able to communicate in the language is not just the responsibility of your salespeople anymore. We understand that interaction with our clients doesn’t end with winning them. Quite the contrary—the moment development starts, the communication becomes even more demanding as more details come into play.

4. Our clients talk with different accents

Since our clients speak various dialects of English (Scottish, English, Irish, sometimes German, Dutch or South African), ability to adapt and efficiently communicate is even more important. Yes, technically it’s still English, but understanding some accents takes above average language skills and blazing-fast comprehension.

There are really no people in your company who would not struggle with understanding the nuances of accents when they speak to clients.

 

Summary

Classes build speaking confidence and improve our internal and external communication.

It makes complete sense to seek and employ only the employees who already have proficient levels of English. But not everyone was given the opportunity to work or study abroad and gain such skills. You can’t discard amazing candidates just because they can’t speak English, either. What you can do, however, is provide opportunities in the form of in-company language training. You can also offer your more critical staff (salespeople, marketing staff) intensive one-on-one courses to make sure they quickly reach the adequate levels of proficiency.

English classes build speaking confidence and improve our internal and external communication. The less of an object language is, the more your workers can focus on the actual things being communicated. Whether such course is fully or only partially funded by the company, is a secondary issue. Language training in the company is not just a welcome addition— it’s expected. The sooner you realize it, the better.