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Page 48


Parlez-vous Learning? BY SARAH FISTER GALE


ir France-KLM has long been held up as an icon of French elegance. The nearly 90-year-old $29 billion global airline is known for its thoughtfully curated French food, uniforms designed by Dior and glamorous airport lounges. But a recent shake-up in corporate structure, coupled with the desire to better support the needs of all of its 101 million annual passengers, had the airline’s learning and development team looking for new ways to expand its employees’ skills. That led them to Voxy, a web-based language training company that offers customized English language training to users in 20 countries. The platform provides training and content based on individual trainees’ interests, skill level and language learning goals as a way to keep them interested and focused on the difficult task of learning a new language. “Not surprisingly, the most requested language from our workforce is English,” said Christine Armand, head of learning and development. “As Air France has more than 50 percent international customers, it is important for all our staff to maintain or improve their English level.” Armand’s team wanted to meet their needs with a program that would be easy to access, engaging and adaptive for all users. “It was very important for us to have a solution that could provide an innovative, modern experience that’s available on all devices,” Armand said. Employees can use the platform from their computers or phones, making it accessible at work, at home and in transit. “We chose Voxy because its unique content and proficiency tests let employees track their progress and practice English anywhere, anytime.”

An Optional Endeavor Air France rolled out Voxy in April 2018 to managers as a pilot effort, then expanded the offering to all of its roughly 41,000 employees two months later. Armand’s team supported the rollout with a companywide communication campaign that included emails, newsletters and organized events for different departments. “Our goal was to 48 Chief Learning Officer • January/February 2020 • ChiefLearningOfficer.com

SNAPSHOT An optional language learning program is helping Air France-KLM support global customers while driving employee engagement across the airline.

make employees aware of Voxy, boost popularity and encourage people to want to learn English,” she said. The platform offers a variety of task-based content types targeting professional language scenarios. Courses cover a range of topics including general business English, customer service terms, written emails and conversational English. It also lets learners choose how they want to learn and whether they prefer reading, listening or watching. The program is completely optional, Armand said. Even when employees choose to use it, there is no obligation to complete a certain level or number of hours of training. It is designed to be a benefit that employees can use to improve their skills for personal or professional reasons. The only requirement is that “every learner is willing to maintain or to improve their language,” she added. Making it optional was an intentional learning strategy, according to Katie Nielson, chief education officer for Voxy. “One thing we know about adult learning is that if you aren’t interested, you won’t pay attention,” she said. “If you don’t force people to use the platform, those who are interested in learning will use it and they will be more engaged.” Ana Bedel is a good example. The human resources manager has been working at Air France for five years and started using the training to help boost her career skills after learning about the training during one of the department events. “In the near future I will start a new position at Air France which requires a lot of English,” she said. She uses the platform every day on her commute to and from work to prepare for that promotion.

Profile for Chief Learning Officer

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Chief Learning Officer - January/February 2020  

A Learner and Teacher at Heart: Jennifer Sullivan brings a lifetime of education experience, digital expertise and a willingness to experime...