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How to Support your International Employees in Learning German

As Germany has always been a very attractive place to work for people from all over the world, hiring internationally has always been an option for employers in Germany.

But one of the big pain points of hiring internationally is the language barrier. Mastering the local language not only enhances personal integration but also significantly contributes to professional success. So how can companies in Germany support international talents learn German more efficiently?

How Companies can Support their International Employees in Learning German

In this blog post, we’ll explore practical strategies to help international employees in Germany learn German and seamlessly integrate it into their daily work routines. Specifically, we think that the following seven steps can help you achieve that as an employer:

  • Step 1: Create a supportive Learning Environment
  • Step 2: Provide Language Courses
  • Step 3: Offer Language Learning Resources
  • Step 4: Support Social Integration
  • Step 5: Add Language Learning Challenges
  • Step 6: Create Language Mentoring Programs (or tandem programs)
  • Step 7: Recognize and Reward Language Proficiency

Let’s take a closer look at all of them.

Step 1: Create a supportive Learning Environment

Making mistakes when you talk in a new language is unavoidable. Therefore it is important to encourage open communication and create an environment where employees feel comfortable to practice and get better. This will help alleviate the fear of judgment and boost confidence, which is essential for language acquisition. You can 

Step 2: Provide Language Courses

Offering language courses will be essential. You can provide language courses either in-house or through external language schools. You can even look for digital solutions if you want to be more flexible. What will be important is to tailor these courses to focus on job-specific vocabulary and situations, ensuring relevance to the job. If you have language courses, make sure to promote those in the “Benefit” section of your jobs. There are various offers for business German courses from Goethe, Berlitz, Deutsche Welle, Babbel, Coursera etc.

Step 3: Offer Language Learning Resources

The goal is to help employees to learn German whenever they find time for it. Therefore it is essential to equip your international employees with resources they can access flexibly.  Some ideas would be discounts for language learning apps, specialized online courses, or language exchange platforms (tandems). Additionally, you can build  a digital library of German-language materials related to their industry, with for example easy to read books, podcasts, translations etc. If you want to keep it interactive, you can have a library where employees can add additional material they find useful for others.

Step 4: Support Social Integration

Learning a language is not just about memorizing words; it’s also about understanding cultural nuances. And here is where the team building comes in. Try to organize cultural activities, events or language-focused meetups. This not only provides a platform for language practice but also fosters a sense of community among employees. It will help your international talents feel welcomed and at the same time motivated to get fluent asap.

Step 5: Add Language Learning Challenges

If you want to stand out from the crowd, we recommend you to turn language learning into a fun and engaging challenge. You can organize friendly competitions or challenges within the workplace. This could include games (multiple choice tests), language-quizzes or even a “word of the day” initiative. Incentivize participation with small rewards to keep motivation high.

Step 6: Create Language Mentoring Programs (or tandem programs)

One of the most successful initiatives is to pair international employees with colleagues who are fluent in German for mentoring. It can even be a tandem, where one learns German and the other person learns a new language as well. This one-on-one interaction not only facilitates language learning but also provides an opportunity for cultural exchange and networking. Mentors can offer guidance, answer questions, and provide practical insights into the company and the use of German language in a work-setting.

Step 7: Recognize and Reward Language Proficiency

Acknowledging and celebrating milestones in language proficiency is key to keep your current international employees motivated and encourage new ones. Implement a recognition program that rewards employees as they progress in their language learning journey. This not only boosts morale but also reinforces the organization’s commitment to supporting language development. And it makes the whole process more fun for everyone involved. The results of the prices can be linkedin to the language challenges mentioned above.

Conclusion: How to support international employees in learning German

In conclusion, helping international employees in Germany learn German is key. Not only is it an investment in their language skills but also in their overall professional success and well-being. And that translates in a successful employee-employer relationship. By creating a supportive learning environment, offering targeted language courses, integrating language practice into the workday, and fostering social integration, companies can empower their international talents to confidently use German in their professional endeavors. The benefits extend beyond the individual, contributing to a more cohesive and inclusive workplace culture. And it allows your company to access a broader talent pool.

Ready to  hire international? We have amazing talents in sales, tech, HR and finances. Feel free to reach out to learn how we can help you grow your team. Send us a short email to team@careerbee.de or book a call here.

Laura Villafuerte

Laura Villafuerte

HR expert & Career Coach for international professionals in Germany.

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