Intensive Language Courses

Our client is an international JV company responsible for the design and construction of complex projects in the UK, France and Germany.

Alternative Description
Alternative Description

Background

The company offers a 20-month graduate programme to experience different placements across their business.  Following an induction in September of each year, graduates spend the first 8 months of the scheme working in the southwest of England.  The final 12 months of their programme are spent in France.

Challenge

The graduates are understandably recruited for their first-class knowledge of electronics, maths, physics, automation, or software engineering but often they are beginners to or low-level users of French.  By the end of the initial 8-month period, they must achieve a B1 Intermediate Level (the equivalent of a good ‘AS’ Level), with an ability to deal with most situations when they travel to France.

Solution

Babel designed a programme based on the Council of Europe’s recommendation for 350 hours of guided learning to reach this level from a non-user start.  Our programme comprises one-to-one, daily 90-minute lessons for the first 20 weeks. 

During this time, the graduates also take part in 3, one-week residential French courses (one every 7 weeks).  The residential courses give the graduates a chance to focus more on their learning.  Being away from work takes away many of the distractions of everyday life.  Learners can really immerse themselves fully into the training experience.  A typical daily schedule includes ice-breaker activities, focus on new grammar, terminology and work-related role-plays, debates, team Kahoot vocabulary quizzes and watching French films.

Throughout the programme, the graduates have three formal language assessments to ensure they are on track with their targets.  The assessments have four components covering grammar, reading comprehension, writing and speaking with scores linked to the Council of Europe framework.  Progress reports are also prepared for the learners and key stakeholders at the mid- and end-point.

For work-related practice, the graduates also take part in Conversation Practice sessions with French managers who are invited to join a lesson.  The graduates prepare a short presentation and take part in a gentle Q&A session afterwards supported by their Babel tutor.

The remaining 10 weeks follow a similar pattern however the graduates are put into small groups to continue their learning.  The group lessons allow the graduates to perform different speaking roles in group activities.  Motivation is sustained as the graduates encourage each other and enjoy interacting with one another.  We often find learners are more willing to take risks and build on each other’s efforts at this stage too.

The final residential course includes a role play interview whereby the graduates act out a scenario with a panel to determine how suitable they are for a particular role.  Other graduates will watch and take notes/assess the interviewee.  This allows the graduates to demonstrate their ability to perform under pressure, and whilst there may be some anxiety over this task, the graduates have found it enormously helpful before having real-life interviews as part of their assignments in France.  By way of a congratulations to everyone involved, we conclude with a fun cheese and wine-tasting followed by a ‘graduation’ from the programme and presentation of Course Certificates.

Results

We have been running this programme since 2020 and will be delivering the third successive programme starting in September 2022.  All the learners have achieved the linguistic targets set by our client.   The last cohort reported back that the practical, work-based language training they received enabled them to “hit the ground running” on arrival in France and, despite the occasional linguistic stumble along the way, they went from strength to strength, increasing in confidence and improving their fluency in both work-related scenarios and in everyday life.  Working for a French-owned company the consensus amongst the group was that, not only will their new-found fluency in French boost their effectiveness in their work environment but, in addition they have acquired a valuable new life skill.

Testimonials

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