You will certainly think in the first place about specialist courses, location, customized approach or teaching curriculum. All those elements matter a lot, but do they make you stand out against the competition? Exactly. See what is worthwhile to watch out for to leverage your advantages instead of just being chosen by accident. And finally a surprise… what factors are stressed by Lang LTC – a school specializing in business courses?

For several years now there has been a growing awareness among companies of the need for command of a foreign language among their employees to make enterprise’s functioning efficient. Owing to such development, an increased need for in-company language courses has been recorded; simultaneously this improves your opportunity to make money. What should be done to make it more than just an opportunity?

Word of mouth / opinions

A majority of consumers, i.e. as much as 60 per cent, perform their own online research before  selecting a service or purchasing a product. You need to be aware of the fact that behind a corporate client there is always a person responsible for language trainings, who most likely transpose their private consumer behaviours onto professional ones. And just like any consumer, their browse websites, school catalogues or social media, and read discussion forums – all of that to find you.

What does that mean for your language school? You must make sure that you build your own branding in the Internet. Remember to make the offer posted at your website targeted specifically at corporate clients. If you do not specialize only and exclusively in in-company trainings, but have some other classes on offer, do not forget to separate clearly your offers, e.g. using another subpage. Each offer needs to be clear and legible, because this is your website where the client most frequently “meets” you for the first time.

Additionally, enter the name of your language school in the search engine – see where it appears and in which position. SmallSETools is an interesting tool helping you to survey the Google positioning. After adding your domain, tags like “business courses, language trainings for companies” and search engine, it displays the position of your website.

Not only opinions in the Internet, but also any kinds of recommendations matter. A situation may happen when an employee recommends a given language school, e.g. where their child learns. It is worthwhile to use positive opinions about your course from business clients and post them at school’s website because they are a testimony of our credibility.

Initial audit

Regardless of whether they are corporate students or not, each client expects for the start some verification of language competences. It allows for assignment of students to proper groups, but also for examination of employees’ motivation to learn. What should such an audit look like? The level of command of a given language is examined in two stages. In the first place, perform a levelling test – it does not matter if it is in paper form or online, and then hold a 10-15 minute conversation with a teacher. Show the results of both the written and oral part for each employee (accompanied by determination of how advanced their level of language command is) to the person concerned with training in a given company (HR department).

Examination of candidates’ skills allows a language school to develop a “tailor-made” teaching curriculum, i.e. one matched to the needs of a given company. It is a well-known fact that different levels of foreign language command are required of employees being at various levels of company hierarchy.

Quality marks and accreditations

A business client is likely to set higher demands on a language school than an individual client. So the quality of teaching will be evidenced not only by the words at your website, like “we offer top teaching quality”, but also by quality marks confirmed by competent institutions. Many associations are concerned with verification of the teaching level and quality. The best-known and pan-European among them is EAQUALS (the European Association of Quality Language Services). It is worthwhile to find out what association in your country awards relevant accreditations. Such associations include among others: PASE (Poland), CAFL (Croatia), ACLES (Spain), AJŠ (the Czech Republic) or G.A.S.T. (Germany).

Those institutions confirm that teaching is effective, well-planned, and also that skilled and well-trained teachers have access to extensive teaching resources. Besides, the school has a proven teaching system with a clearly defined curriculum, and its offer is reliable and delivers exhaustive information on all aspects of the courses being offered. Moreover, quality marks are the proof of security of the contracts concluded, which meet all legal requirements and take care of client’s interests. A corporate client can be sure that the quality will be sustained because certified schools are checked by independent inspectors every few years.

Besides, it is always worthwhile to apply for accreditations e.g. from ETS (Educational Testing Services) to perform language examinations, because this will enhance your position compared to the competition. A company that needs to train employees with a specific purpose in mind – to win the Cambridge English certificate at a given skill level – will choose a language school that is able to do so in conformity with law and immediately.

Easy evaluation of trainings

For companies using your services, measurements of the effectiveness of language trainings matter most. This is so because today such courses are an investment; they help to build the value of human capital through enhancement of its language competences. HR staff is responsible for investigating whether a given training brings the expected effects and “profits”.

The most important task of a language school is to provide reliable information on ongoing basis; this will allow a company to evaluate students’ commitment to learning. The people responsible for training evaluation most frequently need:

  • attendance reports for each employee and for the entire team,
  • reports on vacancies in groups,
  • review of the learning progress for individual students and collective progress for the entire company,
  • reports on the number of course hours to be delivered until the end of contract’s term,
  • the possibility to hold convenient communication with the school,
  • access to transparent settlements and printing out of invoices.

This allows a given company to manage the goals of individual employees through evaluation of their progress in learning and level of commitment to the training. The idea is to examine whether their competences grow – if this is so then the course brings about positive outcomes. A good tool helping in efficient reporting of data relevant for a business client is the LangLion Platform. This is where you can easily generate transparent settlements because the data of company employees are already present in the system.

At the end of a language course, besides evaluation of the participants’ reactions, i.e. satisfaction with the teaching curriculum, the teachers, teaching materials or usefulness of the given training in their work, a business client needs information about the gained knowledge and skills. A test and case studies method (specially prepared tasks) are used here.

A language school can perform a language audit or commission it to some external entity. Why is it applied? For example, to monitor how advanced the skills of the students are, to detail the goals and duration of a course or respond efficiently to problems (a change of the teacher or of the teaching curriculum), and to exclude from the training those who demonstrate lack of commitment.

What else selection of a given language school by a client depends on?

Agata Urbańczyk This question is answered by Ms. Agata Urbańczyk – a psychologist by education, a journalist and a PR expert, for nine years connected with language teaching sector, and for seven years employed as the PR & Marketing Manager of Lang LTC – a school specializing in delivery of language trainings for businesses.

„For an institutional client who is very  demanding and has very precisely defined needs as regards the language course and the school employed to deliver teaching in their company, the best recommendation is comprised by information on how long a given language school has been present on the market, what it specializes in and whether it is capable of coping organizationally and technically with the assumptions of the contract. If a language school, such as Lang LTC, has been on the market for 25 years, or even for 10 years and since the onset of its operations has been specializing in the organisation of language trainings for companies, it is bound to have been already verified by the marketplace. It is worthwhile to pay attention to what clients a given educational institution has in its portfolio. Are there a lot of them; are those only small or medium-sized enterprises or whether it has a full portfolio of clients – from small, medium-sized and big companies, through international corporations, to all types of public institutions.

It is important for each contract to have its own methodologist, taking care of the substantive quality of trainings, and an organisational tutor, who will take care of the course of the training and to the maximum extent take the burden off the person responsible for language training on behalf of a given company. Definitely, qualifications of the teacher, not just language ones but also those related to teaching skills and personality traits, are of fundamental importance. A lesson needs to be interesting and effective. If it is delivered by a person with no experience in working with a corporate client, one unable to adjust their teaching methods to the capabilities and expectations of the group and unable to cope with difficult students, and first and foremost unable to arouse interest in the students, then from the perspective of the students and the company sending its employees to the course this is going to be a waste of time and money.

Moreover, the schools’ offer and the possibility to match the course topics and curriculum to the needs of a given company and industry is also important. Companies from financial or energy sector need a specific industry vocabulary and appropriate approach to students. It is equally important for the language training provider to be able to organize both group training in general or business vocabulary for a majority of employees, and specialized industry classes for Top Management and customized individual classes matched to the flexible schedules of directors.

Besides organisationally and substantially good training, a majority of companies also need additional services, such as language audits carried out exactly when the client needs them, language workshops and events, the possibility to take advantage of translation services or sending employees for foreign courses.

More and more companies want the training to end with a renowned certificate, so they look for a language school able to guarantee that. As an example, for a company that wants its selected employees to take a prestigious English language course at various stages of the training, the fact that a given language school is at the same time an accredited examination centre of Cambridge English is going to be of central importance when selecting the language services provider.

As concerns certificates a given school boasts of, it is paramount for such certificates to be truly trustworthy, such as e.g. PASE or Cambridge English. On the marketplace there are many certificates one can buy to boast of them at the website. But neither a laurel nor referencing a place in the ranking of a widely-read weekly published ten years ago is going to guarantee the adequate substantive level of the classes.”

To spread your wings in the area of in-company courses or to become a market leader, you need to remember to constantly enhance your value compared to the competition. Just like companies invest in human capital, also you should invest in development of your language school. Remember that business clients have different expectations. They need a clearly stated offer, reliable information during a language course and final effects – an improvement of language competences of their employees.

In your opinion, is it more difficult to be selected when you deliver in-company courses?