FYG Explorer Business English Training
Business English for employees needs to be training, and not just language lessons.
Many companies arrange language support for their employees but these lessons are not necessarily specific to the needs of the employee or geared up to making improvements to their performance in work contexts.
Dan Lamb is a fluent Japanese speaker and specialises in Business English training for Japanese employees, having previously worked for a Japanese company in the UK.
Our training for employees is specifically targeted to their work context, and our training is more than just language lessons.
Content of one-off training
Languages never translate completely: this means that native French speakers all tend to make the same mistakes in English, while Japanese speakers will make a different set of mistakes, and so on – due to the structure of their own language.
For Japanese speakers, our training specifically carries out a check-up of common mistakes made by Japanese people, and we consider that one of our 3-hour sessions should be essential one-off training for every Japanese employee in the UK, no matter what their language level.
Misunderstandings cost time and money – this is less the case for beginners, but all the more important for employees who do speak English to a good level, because their listeners will assume that what they said is actually what they wanted to communicate. This is where misunderstandings are caused.
Taking any individual’s starting point, we are able to address the most important ‘bad habits’ that might cause misunderstandings, and provide contexts to show the different meaning of what the employee actually said compared to what they wanted to say.
Our training sessions are particularly valuable at a time of a new employee’s transfer to the UK, in order to help get them off to an effective start – and at this stage Business English is one aspect of the induction training an employee would be expected to receive.
The value of this training is maximised if it is more than just language lessons, although of course language input of any kind should also be beneficial.
A more intensive schedule of training may be arranged as a fast-track training opportunity for employees who are newly arrived in the UK.
An employee’s induction period is the ideal time to take advantage of the fact that they have not yet built up such a heavy workload, and for us to provide personalised English training based on a diagnostic assessment of the individual employee’s needs.
MOT your employees’ English
We recommend holding periodic review sessions with each employee, in order to ensure that previous training content has been fully assimilated into the employee’s workplace English.
It is helpful to think of this like an 'MOT' or a service, because English is a part of the essential equipment that employees need to do their job – and in the same way that vehicles and machinery need to have a service carried out, it is recommended that all employees’ English is re-checked periodically in order to ensure it is maintained to the best possible standard.
Some aspects of our Business English training relate to considerations of culture differences, due to the way culture is reflected within language. However, we are also able to offer cross-cultural training aimed specifically at Japanese businessmen in the UK, as an additional service, which may be particularly applicable during an employee’s induction period.
In addition, we can provide cross-cultural training to English-speaking managers or employees who work with Japanese colleagues in their UK office, and this is particularly beneficial for company staff who are not used to the cross-cultural dynamics of their workplace.
Based on the time Dan spent living in Japan, and the many years that he has worked with Japanese people in the UK, he is able to offer practical cross-cultural training in order to help employees understand how cultural differences relate to office matters and teamwork.
Our training philosophy
For an employee in a foreign-language environment, there should be no shame in seconded staff accepting professional direction for using English in the workplace, and when this is provided in a one-to-one environment it can be tailored to the individual – leading to more efficient use of English in different contexts, to the benefit of your company.
Our philosophy is to treat English language ability as one part of an employee’s equipment for doing their job, and the pursuit of continuous improvement should be encouraged. It is therefore important to us that employees feel reassured that they are not being seen in a bad light by undertaking Business English training.
Japanese employees are very concerned about 'losing face' in the workplace, much more so than employees of Western origin. For this reason, we have discovered that they are hesitant to accept help with their English as it might be interpreted as weakness or a sign of unsuitability for their job.
However, when an HR department takes the lead in providing Business English to Japanese employees, this takes away their fear of being looked down on by their colleagues.
No company gives an employee a position of responsibility unless they are confident in the abilities of that individual. In an international company someone might have all the right business acumen but they can still lose the company money through mistakes in English or costly misunderstandings.
Dan Lamb has more than ten years of experience training Japanese businessmen and women in both spoken and written English for the workplace, and he has developed a model of training which is firstly to assess an individual's use of English and then to carry out periodic review in order to check the employee’s English does not slip back or fall into bad habits.
The purpose of the training is not to help employees achieve better test scores, but to enable them to work more efficiently in English and without misunderstandings.
Most employees in the UK have high test scores in English tests and do not need 'English lessons' of the traditional kind – but critically they do often need to learn how to adapt their academic knowledge to the working environment they are in.
This is the focus of our Induction and Training.
There are a surprising amount of ways that Japanese people tend to use make certain mistakes in English, without realising that they have not communicated the meaning they intended. Since Dan Lamb is able to identify and explain these issues, our training sessions are able to provide something that others could not offer purely as language teachers.
Dan is able to run through a checklist of common mistakes made by Japanese speakers, so a one-off training session can save an employee from countless unforeseen circumstances which could be caused by communicating the wrong meaning in different situations.
The key to eradicating mistakes in language is to focus on errors which lead to a miscommunication, as opposed to overly focusing on small mistakes in which it is nevertheless clear what the speaker is intending to communicate. The main focus of all our training is therefore to ensure that all employees can avoid making significant miscommunicative mistakes in using English, and for Japanese employees, Dan is the go-to person for companies anywhere in the UK.
The fact that many Business English mistakes are so avoidable means that our training can pay dividends, even with only a one-off session.
The language and vocabulary differences between English and Japanese create the same problems for all Japanese speakers, which means it is a relatively simple exercise for someone in the know to check for these potential difficulties. Through regular ‘updated review’ sessions, therefore, we are able to help employees eradicate common mistakes with which they might be liable to miscommunicate their meaning, and each session also provides a safe forum where an employee can raise any matter do with English that they might feel embarrassed asking about elsewhere. In these ways a commitment to ongoing Business English training is an insurance policy against the possibility of costly mistakes.
Companies might not like to admit to themselves that this can happen but it has been known for people in responsibility to go ahead with important decisions even though they know for themselves that they haven’t grasped all the relevant detail in the way that a native speaker would – because they feel it would be a sign of weakness to admit it.
Cultural factors are at play in many situations which arise in the workplace, and it could also be described as a ‘common mistake’ when HR departments do not address these issues with cross-cultural training, which builds on the foundational concept that everyone is on the same team.
The purpose of our cross-cultural training is to review key differences between Japanese and European cultural mindsets and then lead employees to consider the ways this will impact specifically upon their own work, results and performance.
For example, one area in which Japanese employees tend to have difficulty when they first come to the UK is in catching spoken English. This is partly because there is not much focus on language listening skills during the education process in Japan – and although listening skills would be expected to improve quickly once the employee has been more exposed to English in the workplace, it is important for Japanese employees to be encouraged to check they have fully understood what others think has been communicating to them.
Investing in personalised training for Japanese employees is a vital step towards getting maximum value out of them as a resource, and in all contexts our training can form a vital part of an employee’s induction programme.
In addition, it can function as a check-up which may be applicable to Japanese employees at any point during their time in the UK.
We are able to offer intensive training programmes and when applicable we provide English 'workshadowing' training.
This training is equally valuable for employees of any non-English language group, since by following them in their routine dealings at work we would observe any areas for potential improvement in language usage and follow up with a training session on this basis.
Sessions of workshadowing are by far the most efficient way for us to provide practical Business English training for international employees, and this is therefore the best-quality way for companies to allocate training budget towards the successful integration of any employees who are new to the UK environment.
Even a short workshadowing session enables us to see first-hand what an employee's potential needs are and then get to work on them straight away.
For Japanese employees a workshadowing session is something that could ideally be arranged during the first week of their secondment, to ensure a smooth settling-in period, but workshadowing also creates an equally valuable training opportunity for improving the in-work functioning of employees who have been working here for a longer period.
It would be normal during workshadowing for our Training Consultant to be present for certain discussions or meetings where applicable but all business matters will remain entirely confidential, including the content of all discussions or any meetings attended.
The beauty of workshadowing is that we can assess the reality of an employee's language dealings in the workplace, as opposed to asking the individual to make their own assessment of their language needs or the difficulties they have in using or understanding English - and for this reason it is a genuine means of fast-track training.
Workshadowing may also feed into matters of cross-cultural understanding and the way it relates to an employee’s business dealings: through building on what we have been able to observe through workshadowing, our training solutions will be much more practical than a merely theoretical or academic approach.