For more than 38 million in the US, the primary language spoken at home is Spanish. That is more than double the number of Spanish speakers recorded in 1990!
That language gap offers both challenges and opportunities for business owners. Yet, a survey by The Conference Board, a nonprofit business research organization, found that most companies do not offer English Language Learning (ELL) classes, even though many of those companies report that they employ English-deficient employees.
Time, cost and logistics are some of the top reasons companies hesitate to provide ELL instruction to their employees. But, those challenges seem small compared to the very real benefits companies receive when employee are fluent in English.
The benefits of ELL instruction for employees
- Safety. According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the work-related death rate for foreign-born Hispanic workers is 6 per 100,000. That number is significantly higher than the rate for American-born Hispanics, blacks and whites, which was less than 4 per 100,000. While Hispanics tend to hold more high-risk jobs than other racial groups, researchers say that language and literacy barriers also may be factors in the higher death rate. When companies provide ELL instruction for their employees, however, their investment pays off long-term in improved employee safety.
- Efficiency. Some companies rely on bilingual supervisors to bridge the communication gap, but interpretation can be time-consuming, and the potential for misunderstandings remains.
- Unity. We all need to feel as if we “belong,” and bridging a language gap makes great strides in this direction. It should come as no surprise that employees feel more loyal to a company that invests in their future.
English Language Learning (ELL) options for Delaware businesses
The ELL classes offered by schools, churches and community organizations can be good, affordable options. Many employers, however, find that employees are too tired after the workday to attend evening classes regularly. In addition, they sometimes feel intimidated in the classroom setting.
Bringing the language instruction right to the business site makes it easy and convenient for employees to attend classes. Learning together in a company-sponsored setting also encourages language learners to practice their new skills with each other and gives them the courage to use the new language in the workplace.
If you recognize a language barrier in your company, call Back to Basics Learning Dynamics at 302-594-0754 for 1-on-1 ELL instruction for your employees. Back to Basics offers instruction at your place of business, in your employees homes, or at one of our centers, 7 days a week.