There are many companies all over the world that use English as their business language despite not being based in an English speaking country. This could be due to their main client base being in an English speaking country or an international company deciding on the one language that colleagues should communicate in. For those who are confident in using English as their second language, it is a fantastic opportunity to keep their hand in using English while living in another country.
For those who are not so confident or those who are aware that they could make improvements, it can feel like there is never the perfect time to get away and improve. Weekly lessons at a local school can be really helpful, but when there is a time sensitive event or the spotlight will be upon you at a big meeting or presentation, you need results, and quickly. Now is the time to act and start looking at a short immersion course to help you on your way.
While it can take 12-16 weeks of full time study to move up a level on the CEFR scale. There is still a good amount of progress that can be made in a few short weeks. Consolidation, confidence and improvement in fluency can all be achieved in a few weeks. However, making a business case to be allowed the extended time off, or to ask the company to pay for it is also a possibility and can seem daunting.
If your company already uses English as their business language or are about to, then you need to make yourself a water-tight business case to win approval (or maybe funding). The following points you may find helpful when putting together a business case for your education.
- Research and Preparation
What does it mean to the company if you take this course? What are the benefits if you do… and more specifically what are the pitfalls if you do not? Have they declared in their quarterly statement that they will be breaking into new (English speaking) markets and you are going to be one of the key players in implementing that?
What do you want from them? Do you just want the time off for the course? Do you want them to make a financial contribution?
Also the person who will be making this decision – what are their concerns? Do they need cover in the office? Are they always worried about the budget? Does the successful completion of a project rely heavily on the success of you and your colleagues?
Putting together a list of benefits if you were to take a course as well as the potential concerns and questions that your manager may have will mean that you can go in there with a clear and defined idea of what you want and the questions they may ask.
- Cost Versus Benefits
Everything costs something, even if it is your time away from the office. Is there a way that you can give tangible examples of how this will financially benefit the team and the company? If you go in there with a strong and realistic idea of the advantages of letting you go could generate or save money then you will have a good chance of being able to persuade your manager and the HR Department.
- Risk Mitigation
Their worries are going to circle around a few things:
- What will happen in the office while you are gone?
- What if you do not get to the level or result promised in the time?
- How will this benefit the company?
- Who will pay for it and what if you leave the company soon after the course has completed?
These are questions that any manager will inevitably have and if you can answer these and reassure that the investment is one that is a meaningful opportunity to you and that you fully intend to invest in them as they have in you, then this is a persuasive case.
Only you can know how strong a case you have to ask for time off or funding to study English for the benefit of your company. Many international companies do recognise this and the returns that they can get from this. You may not always be successful, you may instead of an immersion course abroad settle for classes at a local school or an online course because there isn’t necessarily the business need for it right now in their eyes or money in the budget. Maybe the answer is a no now, but maybe it won’t be next year.
Taking a course of study can boost your engagement and productivity within your role as you bring new enthusiasm and skills to the workforce. Language competency for an international business is vital for ease of doing business and one that many employers are aware can make a difference to success.