Are you looking to refresh your language skills, but don’t know where to start?
In that case, you are in the right place!
In this guide, you’ll receive helpful tips about different options for learning a new language or brushing up your existing language skills.
Choosing language training can be daunting – a myriad of products, complex pricing, unfamiliar terms, and too many options – so, we created this guide to help you choose the right type for your needs.
Whether you are choosing training for employees or for yourself, you have several important choices to make:
- Do you know what the current language level is? And will the trainer be a native of that language, or of the learner’s?
- What is the goal for the training? For example, it could be modern presentation skills (Do you think people follow your presentations?), written texts (Are you making these mistakes?) or, mastering negotiation skills (Are you choosing the right words?).
- What is the most suitable format? Private lessons, pairs, or groups? In a meeting room with the trainer, or remotely?
Or, perhaps, you don’t know what you need most; then let us help you choose! Our experienced service team would be happy to help you with any questions related to competence development and provide you with the best possible training solution. They offer advice on organizing students by needs and abilities, recommending training formats, setting goals, and dealing with changes and alterations, such as scheduling and invoicing.
Feedback is an essential part of continuous improvement in our service, so we gather feedback during and after the training course. Based on your feedback and the recommendation of the trainer, our team will also advise you on the best way to continue your studies.
1. Let’s start with advice on languages
You probably already know what language is needed. It’s based on needs at work – for example, English skills for the majority of staff, and Russian language for the staff with Russian customers.
Did you know that as the largest training service provider in the Nordics, AAC Global has a network of native-speaking trainers that offers instruction in all major European languages?
If you are looking for tailored courses for languages further away, we have a range of options to offer, too. Ask, and you’ll be surprised by what we have to offer!
Next, you will need to decide whether the trainer will be a native speaker of the language being learnt, or a native speaker of the student’s language. The answer to that question depends on:
a) The needs of the customer (for example, if the student has online meetings with senior management in Ireland, the customer might even request an Irish English-speaker), and
b) The language ability of the student (and we measure that on a six-part scale: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2).
If the student’s level of skill in a foreign language is beginner (A1) or elementary (A2) we recommend that the trainer is a native speaker of the student’s language. That way, the trainer can explain basic concepts of grammar and usage to the student in their own language. For example, we offer native Finnish-speaking trainers for English, Swedish, French, German, Russian, and Spanish.
For levels pre-intermediate and above (B1-C2), we recommend that the trainer is a native speaker of the language being studied.
If you follow this link to register for our training portal, you can assess your level of English with our online test, or share the link with your employees so that they can test themselves. In the same portal you can also find language level tests for Swedish, Finnish, and German that you can fill in and submit for an assessment and recommendation on what type of training to choose.
It takes approximately 10 minutes to complete the English test, and one hour to complete the test in other languages.
The test may involve a charge for your company. If you are not sure whether you have permission to take the test, please check with your supervisor first.
2. Set the learning goals for the training
Our customer service team is here, too, to help in choosing the content of your course. While any improvement in skills is appreciated, we find that the best learning outcomes are achieved by having clearly defined, specific goals.
At AAC Global, we can offer tailored training programs that are designed around your needs. At the start of every course, we perform a customer need analysis and, together with the student, craft a learning plan.
The core aim is to develop language competence that supports everyday working tasks and duties. It can be in a specific business skill, like negotiations, or a communication technique, for example, writing offers to potential customers.
Here are a few examples of the most popular themes for English and Swedish langauge training:
- Improving presentation skills
- Better customer service language
- Handling meetings and negotiations effectively
- Clearer, more effective written communication
- Improving professional vocabulary
If you are ordering courses to develop the competence of others, such as your team or department, or as part of an HR initiative, it’s best to set a broad learning goal for the training. Our trainers can then interview the learners in order to produce precise learning goals based on their specific role and need for the language.
The trainer works together with the student to choose and set goals for the course that are clear and achievable and enters them into our system, where progress can be monitored by the students themselves, as well as by the client.
Some examples of course targets. These are always tailored to the needs of the students at the start of a new course. Depending on the length of the training, we typically set between two and four goals.
3. COURSE length and industry-specific learning
When it comes to the length of the course, you can choose from a variety of training course lengths. We can also advise you on this: depending on your availability, we generally recommend 15 meetings at 90 minutes each to train and develop new skills quickly.
We also strongly recommend that the meetings are held regularly, for example, once a week, to maintain momentum and continuity.
You can also study industry-specific terminology – we have trainers with professional backgrounds in most major industries, for example:
- Heavy industries (forestry, engineering, energy)
- Technology (ICT & digital services)
- Commercial (finance, insurance, marketing)
- Social (government, environment, and healthcare)
And, as a standard part of our tailored courses, the trainer will prepare exercises for you from the actual material that you use in your daily work, with your permission, that give you tangible support with your personal competence development.
An example of course tailoring – presentation skills
So, imagine that you have been asked to present at a conference, but the slide deck has been prepared by someone else in your firm. You’re concerned that you are not familiar with many of the English terms and words on the slides.
In this scenario, you could give your AAC trainer the slide deck at the start of the training course and ask them to help you learn it.
Our trainers will:
- break the terminology down into easy-to-learn elements, with explanations, synonyms, and usage examples
- prepare a variety of vocabulary exercises for you to learn how to use the words in context
- test your ability to use them correctly and appropriately
4. Choose course materials for modern business needs
As a special benefit of our tailored courses in English, Swedish, and German, you can select from one of AAC’s own study materials on a wide variety of modern business topics. These materials combine industry-specific knowledge with pedagogical expertise to create an accessible and comprehensive resource that will continue to be a valuable reference long after the training has been completed. There are a variety of titles available for English, Swedish, German, and Finnish, including:
If you prefer to use commercially available study materials, our customer service team and our trainers will be happy to advise you on choosing the best resources for your specific training needs.
5. What other benefits do you get from our tailored courses?
Choose one of our tailored training courses and you will also recieve:
- a flexible training schedule
- progress monitoring by both the trainer and our customer service team
- unique and valuable course reporting
The report that you receive includes an evaluation from the trainer of how much progress each student made in achieving the goals that were set. The trainer will grade each student individually for each goal on a scale of 0-100:
- 1-9 = emerging skills
- 10-49 = developing skills
- 50-69 = acceptable skills
- 70-89 = good skills
- 90-100 = excellent skills
This forms the basis for the trainer’s professional recommendation for further training. The evaluation and the report on the content and materials allow you to see which students now have the sufficient skill and experience with a particular topic or situation that is required for their role, or if further work is needed.
We also have products for developing basic language skills to cope better in work-related situations and everyday interactions. Typically, students would like to start a language that is totally new to them, or feel that their lack of basic skills is the main obstacle to them performing work tasks in a certain language.
Again, our customer service team can provide you with the terms and conditions for all of the types of training that we provide.
6. How to study? One-to-one vs. pair vs. group studies / Face-to-face vs. virtual training
Now that you know what you want to study, the next question is how to do it.
You can study with your trainer:
- in a pair
- as part of a group
You can also choose how you meet the trainer:
- via virtual training
- or, as a combination of both
1-1 training: the training goals, content, and scheduling are completely tailored to your needs. You will meet with your trainer on your terms and always receive feedback and instruction that are aimed solely at improving your skills.
The trainer will design the exercises and activities around your personal learning style for maximum effectiveness.
Pair training: a great option if you have a colleague who has a similar level to you. You can support and encourage each other during the lessons and, crucially, outside of the lessons, as you put into practice what you have learnt.
Your colleague doesn’t even have to necessarily have the same role as you, or come from the same team or department. Listening to someone speak about topics that you are not that familiar with, and interacting with them will expand your vocabulary and give you the chance to learn some valuable insights into other roles.
Group training: study with up to four colleagues. Fill a meeting room with people from the same team or department, and get them to talk about their responsibilities, tasks, projects, customers, and plans in a foreign language. They can help each other out by sharing knowledge, encourage each other, support each other’s learning, and create a rewarding atmosphere, where they can make mistakes and receive correction and encouragement together!
Our trainers will use group, pair, and individual activities and exercises to activate everyone and maximize the time that everyone gets to practice in the target language.
Pro tip: if you would like to organize competence development training for a large number of participants, we can make recommendations on the group sizes and composition once we have conducted a needs analysis and level tests on the participants.
Group training works best when the participants have a shared training goal and broadly similar levels of skill in the language. Outgoing personalities are quite important, too. However, our trainers are experienced in classroom management and will ensure that everyone in the group gets an equal opportunity to speak and participate in the lessons.
All face-to-face meetings can be arranged at one of our offices (see our visiting addresses in Finland, Sweden, and Denmark), or at a location chosen by you.
If you’re not sure what’s meant by virtual training, it’s essentially an option to study your chosen competence development course via online. We use modern tools, such as WebEx or Skype for Business, so that you can meet with your trainer remotely.
Virtual training offers all of the personal attention and feedback that comes from having a live training session, combined with the flexibility and convenience that you get from being able to participate wherever you are – at home, abroad or traveling. As long as you have an internet connection, you can meet with your trainer.
We recommend virtual training for 1-1 students who want that added flexibility, or who want to learn the language in the same environment as the one they use it in – for example, many of our students use English in conference calls and online meetings. What better way to learn how to communicate during conference calls with international customers? At the same time, you’ll get helpful tips from your trainer on how to handle tougher situations, such as when someone on the call keeps interrupting you, or you encounter technical difficulties.
For groups, especially ones greater than five participants, which do not want to or cannot meet regularly in the same physical location, we offer other solutions. Contact us to find out about arranging webinars and also full and half-day seminars.
Did you know that AAC produces trainer-led webinars for many companies? Webinars are a great way to involve a large number of people in a learning event: they can interact, post questions, take part in polls, and contact the trainer afterwards for more information or recommendations for further study.
Here is a free example of a webinar on the topic of using English for customer service.
Our professional business trainers can both produce and deliver high-quality training content, or they can professionally facilitate or present your prepared content. See our site for more information.
We hope that this guide has helped you in choosing the type of language training that suits you best. If you have any questions or would like more information and assistance in choosing, then ask our chat service on our website or contact our customer service team directly.
If you find that your training needs are not met by any of these options, then, perhaps, you should consider an e-learning course.
Modern, engaging, and accessible multimedia content produced by pedagogical experts combined with meaningful reports, cost effectiveness and great learning outcomes makes e-learning the answer for the needs of many companies today.
Find out more from our site, and read our free e-book on the second coming of e-learning.