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Putting business back into business language learning

Education is a rapidly evolving platform in today's highly connected society and Thomas Engelbertz is leading one of the world's most effective business learning solutions in the industry.


When the former CEO of a leading global e-commerce company and member of Vodafone’s senior leadership team Thomas Engelbertz joined Learnship in January 2021 as CEO, the language learning solutions provider was in the right place at the right time.

“Remote work, globalisation, continuous learning, and digital transformation are hot topics on the C-suite’s agenda,” explains Engelbertz. “Today more than ever, digital language training is in line with the trends”.

Learnship was initially launched in 2008 when edtech was mainly used as a stand-in term for e-learning – and e-learning, applied to language skills, suffered from a particularly poor track record. People could not imagine that virtual classroom learning could be as effective as traditional classroom training. In the following decade, Learnship grew to become a leader in online business language and cross-cultural communications training, serving more than 2,000 corporate clients worldwide.

In February 2019, it accelerated its international expansion, backed by a 10-million-euro investment by the THI Investment group. The same year, the company acquired GlobalEnglish, a worldwide leader in providing business English communication e-learning solutions to corporate learners.

Although 2020 had been a challenging year, Engelbertz saw an opportunity in Learnship. “The lockdown has increased the pace of digital transformation and hybrid work,” explains Learnship’s CEO. “It felt like Learnship offered a mature technology to support organisations – and companies’ need for innovation, efficiency, diversity, and inclusion.”

Evolving online language learning

Until the late 2010s, Learnship built the broadest possible range of training solutions to cover all employee needs, from initial assessment to large-scale e-learning technologies to more customised solutions such as trainer-led individual learning, expatriation preparation, or executive coaching. By conducting a company-wide diagnostic involving learners, managers, and program owners, Learnship accurately identifies local and global challenges and then selects the most appropriate solutions to address them.

But while Learnship offers a comprehensive range of solutions, the company hasn’t stopped pushing the boundaries of learning impact. And that is what Precision Learning is all about.

“Precision Learning is about offering less time-consuming, more business-focused, and cost-effective language courses.”

Initiated shortly before Engelbertz joined, Precision Learning is an innovative training format more suited to enterprises’ needs than any other language training. “In a nutshell, Precision Learning is about offering less time-consuming, more business-focused, and cost-effective language courses. In just five to twenty-two weeks, professionals get to intensively train in specific business language skills and situations that matter to them”.

Focusing on the future of work

According to a 2021 article published in Forbes by best-selling author Julian Torres, communication, strong interpersonal skills, and strategies for working remotely are the top skills required for the future of work.

“We paid particular attention to our clients’ existing but also future needs and developed functional language content focusing on areas that will be relevant to them, such as working in remote teams, remote project management, or remote networking. We put languages at the service of the business. We put business back into business language learning”.

Another advantage of Precision Learning is that it makes learning measurable. Our granular approach makes it possible to predict and measure the skills acquired by the learners precisely, week after week. A digital dashboard allows program owners to track learner progress, from vocabulary and grammar to negotiation and presentation skills in a foreign language.

Measuring the metric that matters: ROI

“Today, Learnship is no longer a simple provider of business language and cross-cultural communications training. It is a true strategic partner for business improvement. By focusing on business language and relevant topics, we help companies improve employee proficiency, retention rates, quality of hire, culture, save costs, and reduce the skills gap.”

While the upstream enterprise diagnosis and training courses’ deployment aim to better understand a company’s business needs, the downstream part is just as crucial for Engelbertz.

“Today, we serve more than 25 percent of the Fortune 500 globally, and the demand is growing stronger than ever due to our new approach.”

“Whenever we work with international companies, we measure not only the metrics specific to training according to the Kirkpatrick model – reaction, learning, behaviour, results – but also a metric that matters to the C-suite and decision-makers: the return on investment.”

Based on interviews conducted with learners and their managers, designed to demonstrate how their improved communications skills have impacted business results, L&D managers can show off the impact of language training on their company. “Today, we serve more than 25 percent of the Fortune 500 globally, and the demand is growing stronger than ever due to our new approach,” concludes Engelbertz.

“One of our clients estimates they save two million euros in OPEX each year on average thanks to Learnship – so it is worth doing the calculation.”

Learnship is a leading provider of online language learning solutions helping enterprises succeed in global markets by breaking down cross-cultural communications barriers. Visit Learnship for more information.

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