Be it sauerkraut and Würst, spaghetti and polpette, or chocolate and crêpes, the best things in life come in pairs—and language partnerships are no exception. If your assignee isn’t yet comfortable speaking the language of their future assignment location, finding a speaking partner in a spouse, coworker or friend prior to reassignment can be one of the best (and fun!) ways to adapt to a new culture before ever getting off the plane. Here are three situations where your assignee can practice their new language before packing up their suitcases and saying that final adieu to the United States.
Mealtimes present an opportune time to delve right into a new language (and that tasty looking chalupa). Since food is always better shared (well, not always), meals can present a unique opportunity for your employees to practice their new language in settings they will likely come across abroad. This is also a great way to get the whole family involved prior to departure. Suggest to your more kitchen-savvy assignees that they write their entire shopping list in Italian (don’t forget the vino!). After a little language-learning crash course, a Netherlands-bound assignees can even begin to prepare their meals from foreign instructions or speak entirely in Dutch while enjoying their rode bieten (beet root).
Meals outside of the home also bring up many new speaking situations for assignees. Encouraging your employees to plan a trip to the Acropolis over gyros and τζατζίκι (tzatziki) can help them really Greek out and generate excitement for their time abroad. Extra points if the restaurant staff also speak the language that your assignees are learning!
Your assignee likely already interacts with their speaking partner in writing many times each day, so why not take it to the text level? Text messages, Facebook posts and emails all present practical opportunities for them to improve their grasp on a new language. After a few of these text pal exchanges, your assignee heading to Israel can make sure her husband picked up the children from בית ספר (school), or double check that their coworker sent the reports to their בּוֹס (boss).
Keep in mind that just because assignees may be used to shortened sentences and incorrect TL;DR versions of words in texting stateside, abbreviations should be avoided at all costs when beginning to learn a new language. Carefully crafting sentences in writing gives one ample time to think carefully about what’s been learned so far and apply that knowledge to everyday interactions similar to those that will take place on assignment. They can even check out their past progress on a certain language learning software if they need a refresher to ask their friend out for kaffe (coffee) in Norwegian!
Skype, FaceTime and other video chatting services can also provide new opportunities for your assignee to get up and running with a new language. Given that more and more business takes place over video conference, practicing speaking over video chat provides valuable experience for future meetings your assignee may have and can provide a fun outlet for them to converse in a new language with coworkers who may be going on assignment. Such experience could even help your assignee in Belgrade maintain contact with their new prijatelji (friends) after returning home!
Mango also provides your assignees with live, personalized one-on-one language training that enable users to work on their own or to connect with an instructor at convenient times to achieve their learning goals. By utilizing such resources, members of a language-learning pair can each practice with an instructor and then discuss their progress over Skype afterwards.
Finding a speaking partner prior to departure doesn’t have to be challenging and can help make the language-learning process more effective and fun. For more information on onboarding your employees on the Mango software, take a look at the HR Manager’s Toolkit to Global Relocation.