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A guide to helping HR retain and train talent

Many talented professionals miss the opportunity to advance in their career path due to their lack of proficiency in English and being unable to conduct meetings, give presentations and write emails in what is called the lingua franca — the language used globally by native speakers of other languages to communicate in business, academia, and many other productive sectors (1).

Nowadays, bilingual professionals are hired for key positions not only on account of their expertise but also because of their English communication and professional skills.

However, it is often the case that HR finds it challenging to properly assess a professional’s level of English, and determine if they are a right fit for the roles that demand fully bilingual professionals.

But, what does ‘fully bilingual’ really mean?

How can HR retain talent that is not fully bilingual?

What can individuals do to leverage their level of English in order to become bilingual professionals in their area of expertise and thrive in the global market?

This article addressses the answers to those questions.

Bilingual professionals are capable of performing their job responsibilities in English with little or no mis-communication with both English speakers and interlocutors whose native language is other than English, due to their good command of a broad range of language, fluency and sponteneity.

2. What are best practices to assess the workforce’s level of English and determine if they are a right fit for roles that demand fully bilingual professionals?

There are many tests/examinations that assess English proficiency (2). Most of them consider the 4 main skills: Reading, Listening Comprehension, Writing and Speaking, and provide results based on the Common European Framework Reference for Language (CEFR) (3). Depending on each organization or productive sector, HR will accept results that reflect an upper intermediate (B2) or proficiency (C1) level of English to comply with the job requirements. Results that indicate a level of English below B2 are professionals who typically find it difficult to understand their interlocutor, and ocassionally make errors which cause misunderstanding or confusion. Consequently, professionals at B2 or below are often rejected for global/remote positions that demand fully bilingual professionals, generally C1 or C2, according to the CEFR.

3. How can HR retain talent that is nof fully bilingual?

Many organizations have English training programs in place for their workforce which help them overall improve their skills in English. Nevertheless, each area of expertise requires specific training to acquire the professional skills and business jargon to communicate with their clients and peers; it is clear that lawyers in the area of Labor Law and Employment have different language needs to those of professionals in IT Quality Assurance or the Agroindustrial sector. More often than not, the ‘one-fits-all’ solutions for English training in corporations does not attend to the specific language requirements of each productive sector. Moreover, professionals often encounter a lack of motivation to complete lessons and assignments in an independent online learning environment.

A more intuitive approach would be gathering professionals from the same department or area of expertise to share and collaborate with content and project-based assignments that are relevant to their language needs at the workplace, having them interact and role-play real-life scenarios that can be collectively assessed to provide feedback for improvement.

4. What can individuals do to leverage their English skills and become bilingual professionals in their area of expertise who thrive in the global market?

Advancement in each career path requires embracing a growth-mindset, which is basically believing that skills and talents can be developed by dedication of time, effort and energy, and that new goals are attainable through hard work, good strategies, and input from others.

However, many professionals not only juggle with with the everyday demands of their job, but also with family, personal and/or community issues that lead to time and energy constraints for language skills training.

Although the shift to online and on-demand training initiatives have responded to the need for learning wherever and whenever our hectic schedules may find the time within the 24/7 timeframe, the concept of asynchronous and synchronous online learning in a group of like minded professionals who share common challenges with both the English language and job requirements seems to bring a greater degree of motivation into the training scenario.

Asynchronous online learning environments allows professsionals to view and work on instructional materials at any time throughout the week as they complete relevant and practical language activities, and interact with their peers in project-based assignments that will be eventually shared with the entire group during synchronous online learning, which requires professsionals to log in and participate in the live online instruction facilitated by an English language coach at a specific time.

The role of an English language coach is that of a facilitator who fosters a dynamic learning environment that authentically brings professionals together with a vision of becoming bilingual, providing bespoke resources and practical experience that help them gain confidence to perform their job in accordance with the demands of their position and thrive in the global workplace.

During these synchronous and ashynchronous learning experiences there is practical knowledge and knowledgeable practice for professionals to acquire and improve their English language communication and professisonal skills, thus taking their career to the next level.

The synchronous and ashynchronous learning experiences are conducted within the context of each professional’s area of expertise, providing practical knowledge and knowledgeable practice for the acquisition and improvement of their English language communication and professisonal skills, thus taking their career to the next level. The instructional material involved throughout the training focuses on building confidence and developing specific job-related skills:

Achieving English proficiency for the demands of the global workplace is possible via language training programs that focus on the requirements of each productive sector and technology that enables professionals to set specific learning goals and monitor their progress.

For more information on how to implement English language training programs in your organization and help professionals become bilingual, contact me!

Happy learning,

Teresa Palm / English Skills Coach

About the author

Teresa Palm is passionate about learning and helping professionals become bilingual in their area of expertise. She has dedicated her career as an English & Spanish Skills Coach, Learning Specialist and Translator to design and implement customized online & onsite language courses for synchronous and asynchronous learning, adapting resources and materials to produce significant and enriching learning experiences in our tethered lives. She is the founder of Palm Learning Center in Mexico and PalmLang in the United States. Both companies provide Englsh and Spanish language training for international organizations and individuals with positions at the global workplace.


(1) More than 1.3 billion people speak English worldwide, which represents around 17% of the population in our planet, which is why it is considered a lingua franca.

(2) The most popolar being: a) ETS (English Testing Service) offering the TOEFL AND TOEIC test, and b) Cambridege Examinations the creator of tests such as Linguaskill, FCE and IELTS, among others.

(3) The CEFR is the Common European Framework Reference for Languages.

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