Why language learning is the gateway to effective cross cultural training

Cross cultural training courses – a training market tackling cultural differences between nations – is expected to grow by a CAFR of 15% until 2021.

Why? Because as the workplace becomes increasingly globalised, cultural differences can become obstacles to doing good business.

Even across the same continent, small miscommunications or misunderstandings risk having a worrying impact.

As such, cultural competence isn’t just a soft skill to showcase during a meeting. It’s now a must-have for all employees.

However, creating an in-house course addressing cultural sensitivity in an international business setting can pose a challenge. Because delivering measurable results for the broad, and sometimes vague, goal of increasing employee cultural awareness is no easy feat.

Discover the core benefits to back your efforts of introducing a cross cultural programme, the challenges you may face, and how implementing the right language-learning course may just be the perfect solution.

Introducing a cross cultural training programme

The benefits

Whether it is for a relocation, business expansion abroad, or simply to improve company culture, there are numerous benefits to implementing cross cultural training:

Improved communication

Much like in life, communication is the foundation upon which all business relationships are built.

Clearly expressing yourself to others prevents misunderstandings, and ensures objectives are understood and met. This could not be more relevant to your everyday multicultural workplace, where, for two people who aren’t conversing in their first language, actions speak louder than words.

Increased productivity and efficiency

Individuals who understand each other work better together. It’s not just about closing deals: improving communication between people from all walks of life can have far reaching consequences, from improving employee retention to boosting morale and productivity.

Competitive advantage

If two organisations are considered for a partnership in a foreign country, there is a high chance that the organisation that wins the deal will have a team who understands the nuances and etiquette of the potential partner’s region.

The challenges

Despite all these pros, there is no clear consensus on what makes a cross cultural training programme effective. Because at present, improving cross-cultural communication is more of a long-term company ideal, rather than a clear, immediate objective.

This challenge is compounded by the fact that the results are hard to measure.

A venture to open a new office overseas, for example, may well be successful because leaders have been trained to tweak their managerial style to meet local employees’ expectations. But there are no metrics in existence that will show a clear correlation between their cross cultural training programme and the company’s venture overseas.

Unless, that is, you start focusing on another metric instead: proficiency in another language.

Why an online language-learning course is the solution

Breaking down cultural barriers often starts with language.

As once you immerse yourself in a foreign language, it is virtually impossible not to get a sense of its history, people and culture. At the very least, it gives individuals the tools to enquire about said culture, and to learn about it at their own pace.

This is precisely why Busuu for Business believe that language learning is the gateway to cross cultural training.

Moreover, language learning can be measured, making investing in an online language-learning course a tremendous opportunity to align training progress metrics with cultural awareness.

Just mull over the doors an online language-learning course could open:

Start tracking tangible progress

By using the right combination of tests and KPIs, it is entirely possible to get an idea of how quickly and efficiently your employees are learning a new language – and immersing themselves in the ways of other cultures.

Be a champion for cultural concepts

A language-learning course can be customised to put greater emphasis on cultural concepts rather than, say, acquire more vocabulary.

Test levels of cultural awareness

You can use the role-play element of language courses to your advantage, testing cultural awareness at the same time as grammar or pronunciation.

The bottom line

It’s natural to feel overwhelmed by the prospect of creating a cross cultural training course; but all the right tools available to create a tangible impact are there, in the form of online language training.

As long as you’ve got access to clear reporting and tracking of the learning progress, and the courses are customisable enough to introduce cross cultural training elements, it’s the perfect fit.


At Busuu for Business, we pride ourselves not only on delivering flexible online language training, but also on providing full visibility of learner progress through our custom-built Management Platform.

To learn more about how you could harness Busuu for Business’ language e-learning courses – and the progress metrics available on our custom-built management platform – to improve cross cultural awareness, contact us today.