Why Most Language Programs Are Inadequate for Upskilling Employees

With knowing a second language becoming increasingly important for employee and business success, many companies have started offering language training programs as a way to upskill their workers. However, many self-paced only language  applications, such as Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, GoFluent, etc. have been consistently found to fall short when it comes to teaching employees how to actually speak a language (Loewen et al., 2019) – arguably the most important skill when it comes to business communication.

Again, this is because traditional apps largely focus on teaching vocabulary and grammar in isolation, without focusing on how to actually communicate with others in the language. They teach language following a traditional, drill-and-kill approach, and neglect what research has shown about language learning: that it is best acquired socially through speaking and interacting with others in real-life situations. They have the same limitations of employees previous language learning experiences that led to them having gaps in English proficiency to begin with. 

How Immerse Partners With Companies

Immerse addresses these gaps by partnering with companies to offer their employees language training opportunities. By offering live language instruction that focuses specifically on developing speaking skills in contextualized environments, employees are able to build the language skills they need for their workplace. Here’s how we overcame language barriers with Benesse:

Immerse and Benesse 

Immerse created an 8-week virtual reality Business English course for employees of Japan’s largest education company, Benesse. The goal of the course was to help improve employees' conversational English skills. All employees were business professionals aged 30-55 at a pre-A1 through B2 CEFR level.

After conducting a needs analysis which included interviews with Benesse employees and an extensive literature review of Japanese language learners’ preferences, learning styles, and linguistic profiles, Immerse created custom, flexible lessons that would help these learners reach their goals. The course focused on using English in everyday business contexts, with the aim of improving employees’ English speaking abilities and confidence. Task-based, interactive lessons were designed to elicit common business communication skills and soft skills necessary for Japanese professionals working in an international context. 

Once all curriculum was created, the employees met weekly with an Immerse instructor for the 8-week period. They were able to pick from a list of weekly meeting times in order to choose a meeting time that worked best for their personal schedule. The instructor would lead all students who attended each meeting time through their  lesson.

As part of this project, we evaluated the impact that these lessons had on employee speaking abilities and confidence. Regarding speaking, we measured the amount of time each employee spoke over each week and found that employees significantly improved the amount they were speaking over each week’s session by 23.9%. Furthermore, over the 8 weeks, the amount of time they spoke in class increased by 2.75x. Moreover, 72% of employees self-reported that they felt the lessons had helped them improve their speaking skills, which is notable given that they only had 4 hours of lessons (30 minutes for 8 weeks) total. 

Regarding confidence, 72% of employees reported that taking part in lessons had improved their speaking confidence. When asked to expand upon why they felt Immerse was so beneficial for improving their confidence, several employees cited Immerse’s avatars as a driving factor: 

“It was new and interesting to experience actually using English in the Immerse worldview. Also, the use of avatars lowered the hurdle to English conversation, and the realistic view of the world led to more practical use of English.”
“I enjoyed the lessons as if I was playing a game. Also, thanks to the anonymous nature of the lesson, I think I was able to participate in the lesson without feeling self-conscious.” 

Interested in Providing Language Training to Your Employees?

Thanks to Immerse’s Bridge the Conversation Gap partnership program, employers can offer their employees language training through Immerse at a bulk discount. 

Once enrolled, employees will have access to everything Immerse has to offer:

  • Live, synchronous small-group classes taught by real educators
  • Live, synchronous conversation events also taught by real educators
  • 24/7 AI-powered avatar practices
  • 24/7 language games
  • Learning Journey tracker

You can learn more about the program and fill out an interest form here

A banner that says Immerse Start your free 14-day trial today and shows a thumbs up in front of a shelf filled with books, flags, a globe, and a Quest 3 VR headset. Immerse leverages the power of AI and virtual reality to offer unparalleled, scalable and cost-effective immersive language learning experiences for learners across the globe.