English is crystal clear for glass-maker’s employees

Industrial and Commercial Training

ISSN: 0019-7858

Article publication date: 4 October 2011



(2011), "English is crystal clear for glass-maker’s employees", Industrial and Commercial Training, Vol. 43 No. 7. https://doi.org/10.1108/ict.2011.03743gaa.008



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

English is crystal clear for glass-maker’s employees

Article Type: Notes and news From: Industrial and Commercial Training, Volume 43, Issue 7

Global glass-making giant O-I has been working with goFLUENT, a provider of distance English training, to improve the English communication skills of its worldwide workforce.

The e-learning platform, with customised content, presents new ideas to those learning English as a foreign language and reinforces their existing knowledge. Learners receive consistent written feedback, as well as individual coaching, to enable them to develop linguistic confidence along with correct grammar and spelling.

One consequence of operating 81 plants in 21 countries is that not all of O-I’s employees speak English as their native language. However, over the last few years, it has become company policy – prompted by global business practice as well as the need to facilitate worldwide communication between O-I employees and their clients around the world – that an increasing proportion of its workforce attain a level of proficiency in English.

“English is a key development opportunity for all of our employees,” said Emanuela Zappone, vice-president for leadership and organization for O-I. “We realized that we needed a learning program that was geared towards the glass-making industry, while still providing a solid foundation in business English. In addition, we wanted a learning program that was personalised to the needs of each employee.”

The O-I employees who needed English training ranged from factory workers to executives, so a “one-size-fits-all” solution was out of the question.

In 2009, O-I contacted goFLUENT and they collaborated in designing English@O-I, blended training that comprises:

  • an e-learning platform, with customised content in the form of videos, articles and quizzes, for the glass-making industry;

  • courses delivered through 30-minute telephone sessions with a live, native English-speaking trainer to help to train the learner’s ear to make English conversation more natural; and

  • online written coaching, with feedback from a native English-speaking trainer.

Attracting increasing numbers of learners each year, the program has enabled almost 1,000 people to become fluent in English.

To date, the employees participating in English@O-I have taken part in more than 20,000 telephone lessons. Moreover, 99 percent of the learners and of O-I’s HR specialists have expressed their satisfaction with English@O-I.

Christophe Ferrandou, goFLUENT chief executive, commented: “Learner commitment, motivation and participation speak volumes about the quality and effectiveness of the training. The e-learning platform, customised content, written coaching and telephone lessons combine to provide a consistent and efficient learning experience – and the results speak for themselves.”

“Across Europe, O-I staff’s overall standards of English have improved by 20 percent. In some countries, employees’ level improvement average, after 34 hours of lessons, is as high as 44 percent – which is the difference between all six levels of English proficiency, from absolute beginner to complete fluency in the language.”

In addition, goFLUENT provides O-I’s HR specialists with tools to track their employees’ progress, ensuring an easy and effective way to monitor the return on investment.

O-I’s leadership and organizational development vice-president; European human-resources vice-president, and the president of O-I Europe are all committed to monitoring the progress of the learners enrolled on the program, to ensure that the employees are receiving the full benefit of the initiative. In addition, O-I’s HR specialists are able to make use of goFLUENT’s products to perform level diagnostics during the recruitment process and when considering an employee for promotion.

Aline Estevant, vice-president of human resources for O-I Europe, commented: “What I like about English@O-I is that it is neither a goFLUENT product nor an O-I product. Rather, it’s a good hybrid of teaching resources that are built around content that is relevant to employees’ professional development.”

“Furthermore, the resources are top-notch in terms of technology – and that’s something to get excited about.”

“After spending so many years working in multinationals and seeing so much money spent on English training without the training being directed towards any professional targets, English@O-I really is a perfect program. It’s an investment for our employees and for our company and, at the end of the day, this is the best possible leverage we can get. It is giving an opportunity for people to grow according to a global perspective.”

“The design of the program, combined with the fact that our employees are making consistent progress that we can monitor, makes it an extremely powerful solution. In my 20-year career, I have never seen something so beneficial, so exciting and so powerful in terms of improving business performance.”

O-I is now piloting English@O-I in Latin America and will soon include its Asian operation in the program.

Related articles