Linking Language and Competence Training

An interview with Michael Kern, Managing Director of KERN AG IKL Business Language Training

Frankfurt am Main/Cologne. In the experience of KERN AG IKL Business Language Training, the demand for additional skills in foreign languages is increasing the demand for pure language courses. At the HRM Expo in Cologne, the language learning provider will present their new course offer for international management competence. Managing Director, Michael Kern, explains how a business’ skilled workers and executives can best prepare themselves for tasks involving international communication.

International operation of employees is now the order of the day. What should personnel managers look out for? 

Knowledge of a foreign language counts as a key qualification in professional and business life. Indeed vocabulary alone will not suffice. It depends much more on the skills that skilled workers and executives are equipped with, which help to also be convincing in a foreign language speaking environment. As in order to build trust between business partners, employees must asses the communication situation and react to it appropriately. We notice that although employees can demonstrate a good level of language, in practice, they are often not confident enough to communicate in the foreign language. A language training session, which is adjusted towards the concrete business situation, can in this case be a remedy.


Does classic language training also not have any added value for a business? 

Language training comes first and it the basis for communication in a foreign language speaking environment. However, if we are talking about concrete international tasks, several factors play a role. Should a manager make a presentation in English in an international meeting? Should an engineer in India put a system into operation or should a foreign language secretary communicate via telephone with business partners from France? Here the focus is the participant's communication behaviour: for example we ask "how do I deal with a "tough" negotiating partner?”. Different competences are trained depending on the task. A comprehensive requirement analysis is also carried out at the start of a language or competence training session. We then make an offer and take care of a meaningful performance analysis. With this we are able to ensure that the training is exactly tailored to the needs of the participants, whether that involves just language training or competence training.

What are then the most important management competences for international operation? 

We offer communication training sessions in the four most important areas: in addition to the correct use of the foreign language in so called Business Skills Training, it is essential to apply communication techniques in the right situations, to represent one's own specific field in an internationally convincing way and to overcome intercultural challenges. The participants can choose from a range of different areas and languages offered by us: from successful negotiation or giving presentations, for example in English, to conflict management and leading colleagues in the creation of new relationships with customers in an international context. The participants practise their communication behaviour “live” in the group with practical exercises. Intensive seminars, spread over several days, are the most appropriate in order to impart the most important basic competences for world wide business success.

There are even seminars about presentation technique in German. Why should I learn these techniques in a foreign language? 

Techniques are not dependent on the language and in principle can be trained in any language. However, recruiters should consider that a language and cultural background plays a role that is not to be underestimated. The advantage of competence training in a foreign language: the acquired competences can not only be reliably applied in a foreign language context, but also make it easier for the participant to give presentations or negotiate in their own native language.

In individual or team coaching sessions, intercultural aspects for extremely specific tasks can also be practised. When, for example, a German asks in a training course whether a certain point is still unclear or if they can progress further with a presentation, in Germany, Sweden and the USA, to the greatest possible extent, they would surely receive an open and honest answer. However, in China for example, they will always be answered with an agreeing nod of the head. Whoever carries on in with the presentation will possibly be disappointed afterwards.

About KERN AG IKL Business Language Training 

As a family run business with 40 training centres across Germany, KERN AG IKL offers a diversified catalogue of services in the language training area: from language courses in all desired languages at beginner or advanced levels, for travelling or for everyday professional life to bespoke language training for skilled workers and executives. Coaching, competence training, intercultural training and modern Blended Learning are also offered by KERN AG IKL. Each training course is tailored to the individual needs of the participant. KERN AG IKL is a state recognised training provider and certified according to the Accreditation and Licensing Regulation for the Promotion of Employment (Akkreditierungs- und Zulassungsverordnung Arbeitsförderung (AZAV)) provided by TÜV Hessen. The test centre in Frankfurt am Main conduct internationally recognised language tests such as TOEFL, TFI, or TOEIC.


KERN AG IKL Business Language Training & Co. KG
Leipziger Straße 51
60487 Frankfurt
Telephone: 069 75 60 73 – 65