Cactus Editor Sarah Watkins talks to Loretta Bonanno, Training Coordinator at Olswang, about their corporate language training programme.
Cactus has been providing language training for international law firm Olswang since 2011. For staff at Olswang, language training is considered a benefit rather than a necessity, so I was keen to find out how the in-company language classes have been received and whether the business considered them to be a good use of training budget.
How language training works at Olswang
Loretta first explained to me the history behind language learning at Olswang. The company has always run ‘language clubs’ – 10-week courses of a minimum 4 students – in order to give staff access to other languages, be it for leisure, travel or personal reasons. During the recession these language courses were stopped but have now been re-instated, with Olswang contributing £50 towards each course and each delegate paying the rest.
When classes were re-instated the uptake was very good and courses are now running in French and Spanish, with one 1.5 hour lesson taking place on one evening each week, over a course of 10 weeks. Usually participants are beginners in the language and go into the course expecting to just learn the basics; as Loretta admits, however, having taken a course herself, she learnt quite a lot more and is now keen to take a refresher course.
The reality of taking a language course is such that some participants have found it difficult to fit in homework between classes – in fact, some are not even able to attend class due to the nature of their work as lawyers. These are natural considerations for any company offering external courses. Feedback has however been good and Loretta tells me that there is always a positive response when she gives her induction to new course participants.
The benefits of offering training & advice for the future
Loretta told me that she would recommend other companies consider offering language training as a staff incentive, as the benefits are wide-ranging. Within Olswang, and from her personal experience attending a course, she has seen the language courses as an ideal opportunity to network within the firm and to meet people you wouldn’t have otherwise, all in a fun environment. Corporate language tuition is also a stepping stone to international development and success, as staff become equipped to effectively communicate with non-English speaking colleagues in global offices.
I was interested to know whether, with all her experience in arranging corporate language training, Loretta had any advice for other companies considering offering the same. Loretta wisely pointed out the importance of communication between all parties involved – the supplier, the client and the teachers – to ensure that everything runs smoothly when it comes to issues such as missed lessons and feedback forms.
The implementation of the courses had been as smooth as hoped with Cactus and, when I asked about Olswang’s future plans, it was great to hear that they were keen to continue and that it was even on the cards to extend their language training programme to other areas. Our chat rounded off nicely with Loretta telling me that it had been a really good experience, and lots of fun too, so we’re certainly looking forward to fulfilling their language learning needs moving forwards.
Many thanks to Loretta for taking the time to talk to us.
Cactus specialises in organising language courses for individuals and groups, having done so since 1999 for clients all over the globe and for diverse needs and budgets. Our expertise in the field of face-to-face tuition is second-to-none. With an extensive network of approved teachers and a strong in-house academic team, we are able to tailor a language course to suit your specific learning needs, anywhere in the world and whenever is convenient to you.