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Video conferences and contract negotiations with foreign partners, travel outside France: today, employees are constantly asked to speak English and are eager to master this language. But although most of them are already comfortable with the specific terms inherent in their field of operation, they are more interested in general professional English training. Purpose: Communicate easily with their colleagues, customers or partners on a daily basis. In France, around 4,000 training institutions specialize in languages. Many of them offer CPF-eligible and language training to companies and their employees tailored to their needs, while others mainly refer to the TOEIC certification.
Proficiency in English, the world’s most widely spoken language, is valued more than ever within organizations, and there are many job opportunities that require it. In this context, many types of language training are offered individually, in groups or in a hybrid format that qualify for the Personal Training Account (CPF). Purpose: To help professionals communicate easily with their colleagues, clients or international partners.
Welcome, a CPF-eligible certified training organization that has chosen to fully immerse students abroad to develop their learning and practice their professional practices. “We believe that immersion is a very effective way to develop the natural practice of a foreign language, especially for professionals”, asserts Mark Chevalier, director of You’re Welcome. According to him, immersion encourages moments of informal exchanges and activities with English speakers in the field. “We connect our clients in France, companies or individuals, with partner language schools located in North America or Australia,” he added. In 23 years, You’re Welcome has forged partnerships with around thirty language schools abroad, guaranteeing beneficiaries on-site immersion within established international groups or one-on-one with teachers. “When companies that identify training needs for their employees call us, we usually provide a tailored training,” he underlines. It is based on a phase of analysis of the needs of the employee, his position and the area of skills he wants to develop. You’re Welcome offers training solutions offered by its partner language schools.
Although they can choose the main areas of English training, clients still prefer general English training. “In general, employees have a good command of the vocabulary of their field of activity and rely on it to communicate. On the other hand, they may have significant needs in general English training, such as in developing skills in grammatical consolidation, written and oral expression or even in professional English”, notes Mark Chevalier. This last method, one-on-one with the own teacher, provides practical professional situations, events that clients regularly encounter in the context of their professional activities: meetings, video conferences, presentations, etc. Kathleen Longot, a key account manager at La Poste, experienced this as she followed an intensive course. “As a key account manager for a French and English e-tailer that sends parcels to France and whose warehouses are located in the UK, I have to travel to conduct contract negotiations. In relation to my HR department, we decided to set up in-depth training in business English through my CPF,” he explains.
“Staff may have significant general English training needs: grammar, written and oral expression or professional English”
In addition to grammar, vocabulary and general English lessons, Kathleen Longot followed specific business modules with tutors, one-on-one. “We worked on business cases, business presentations or operational reports that I was invited to present in front of my clients. The goal was to strengthen my mastery of specific terms related to my profession, which I was able to put into practice at the end of the training,” he testifies.
Towards more professional training?
In practice, when a training company needs to meet specific business needs, it must offer individual and customized one-on-one courses with a trainer. “If a fund manager wants to improve their professional English by following a learning path specific to their profession, we restructure the training. In concrete terms, we rely on locally created content and resources that are relevant to its field”, underlines Philippe Abadie, general manager of Alpha Languages, which brings together about fifteen speakers. On the other hand, if he really noticed the demand for training aimed at perfecting the “technical” language – business, management, gastronomic etc. -, Philippe Abadi emphasizes that this phenomenon is not new: “We have always known people who want to train to advance in their career. There are no more demands for training to focus on specific areas than before”. Be that as it may, coaching institutes like Alpha Languages follow a policy of analyzing the need and evaluating the candidate’s oral and written expression to guide him in the best way. “However, before starting business-specific training, there are the basics of general English,” he summarizes.
“There are the basics of general English before embarking on more business-oriented training”
TOEIC, Benchmark Certificate
Based on the Quality Certificate of Professional English, the TOEIC test (Test of English for International Communication) is the reference. In France in 2022, 160,585 TOEIC tests may require access to a level or training that explains why they are funded by the CPF. TOEIC was developed to meet the needs of the working world. It is presented in two parts, one aimed at assessing written and oral comprehension and the other at the candidate’s written and oral expression. This test, which does not take the specific business into account, but only asks for the general context, is positioned by the CPF as a platform for training requests. Ditto on the side of ETS Global, the American certifier that develops and administers the TOEIC. It counts more than 1,400 BtoB client companies in France represented under the CPF. But ETS Global does not adopt a “by profession” approach to professional language training. “The TOIEC test for employees is about professional business English. It is general English that applies to all trades”, explains Laurence Carlinet, General Secretary of ETS Global. According to him, having a good level of English is a sufficient prerequisite to master and then develop the vocabulary used in the practice of a profession.
Another innovation related to CPF makes users less happy if the commercial promotion of Personal Training Account (CPF) holders is now prohibited, according to the law published in the Official Journal of December 19, 2022. . An amendment inserted into the Finance Act for 2023 provides for employee participation in the cost of training activities, verification of acquired experience (VAE) or competency assessment carried out within the framework of CFP. “This contribution may be proportional to the cost of the training, set within a ceiling or a total amount. Jobseekers and employees will be exempted from this cost as the employer finances part of it”, states the direction of the legal and administrative information. A decree published, the only national governing body for vocational training, France Skills costs. The terms of this action should be specified with a view to rebalancing.
In this context, language training is not exempt from a series of measures aimed at regulating the offer, which is considered excessive: “The Court of Auditors has pointed out the need to reduce the deficit of skills in France. More than 4 billion euros in 2020. This includes a significant reduction in the number of qualified certifications,” said Laurence, Secretary General of ETS Global. Carlinette explains.As far as we are concerned, we need to re-register both with the RNCP [Répertoire national des certifications professionnelles] Only in RS [Répertoire spécifique], we had to put France’s skills preconditions in place by removing the A1 level for the CPF because it was considered too low to promote employment. We have generalized the positioning tests and strengthened our controls and audits due to the information provided by France Skills.
Finally, the reform of the CPF plans to fight against identity theft. From October 25, 2022, the purchase of a training service using CPF on the “My Training Account” platform can only be done with a reinforced authentication: FranceConnect+, which will be pre-generated by La Poste’s digital identity.
Faced with a large number of language training courses, it is difficult to identify those that allow real progress in foreign languages. To see more clearly, Le Point, in collaboration with Statista, has established the first edition of the ranking of the best training institutes in France. More than 2,700 experts and 3,000 French people aged 18 to 50 were consulted during the online survey.
The big winner in this ranking is Wall Street English, a vast network of English training centers created in 1972 and currently in around thirty countries. Its first position, according to this study, is explained by the quality of its services. The training provided is eligible for CPF funding for employees, self-employed and jobseekers. They certify by passing the TOEIC, Linguaskill or Bright test. “Its teaching method, developed in-house, is very effective because it is based on blended learning, which strengthens the commitment of learners in their journey and guarantees good results for them, whatever their starting level”, emphasizes Laurence Carlinet, General Secretary of ETS Global. . Wall Street English is followed by Adomlingua, which trains professionals and individuals to obtain diplomas such as TOEIC or TOEFL. In third place is Perlitz, also praised for the quality of its services and its approach based on the discovery of foreign cultures. Alliance Formation pour l’Industrie, for its part, ranked 4th for its ease of use and its services, which can be carried out remotely, at home or at work. Alpha.b Linguistics Institute, a school specializing in teaching French as a Foreign Language (FLE) is ranked 5th. Finally, the British Council ranks 6th for its quality/price ratio, which respondents consider most favorable.
However, according to learning experts (University of Cambridge), it takes between 150 and 300 hours to advance one level on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFRL).
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