International work-from-anywhere (WFA) companies were an alien concept to many before Covid-19 hit. Not so at Yodo1. After years of growing different business lines from our origins in China, we grew into a global company, and then made transition to becoming fully WFA in December, 2020.
As with any sea change, there have been challenges and hurdles to find solutions to. A big one is that many core staff members from China lacked sufficient English skills to engage with new international teammates. Being able to communicate well is a company mantra, and most of the staff were accustomed to doing so primarily or fully in Chinese before the WFA transition made English the lingua franca.
We knew immediately that we needed a way to bring employees, who work across 33 countries, together. With the goal of everyone communicating successfully in one common language, Yodo1’s English Training Program was born.
The English Training Program is an internal program to help Chinese-speaking staff improve their English communication skills so that they can interact effectively with their colleagues. Launched in March and running through the rest of 2021, it uses a combination of lessons, assignments, activities, events and evaluations.
Assignments are sent out twice a week, along with buddy feedback submissions, and there are two live English events per week. The program is run by Luke Priddy, Yodo1’s Head of Education, who has years of experience teaching and creating English language learning material, including via his own YouTube channel.
“We use an automated system for sending assignments and feedback submissions, along with reminders, to ensure that participants are keeping with the program. There is also a cash prize for those who participate in the video pitching challenges,” explained Luke.
“Ultimately, Yodo1 is an international company. We have employees working across projects from many different countries. Simple fact: English is the language of international business. That creates an immediate problem for those staff used to operating completely in Chinese, which was the case before the move to WFA and a more international workforce.”
In light of this, helping Chinese staff who didn’t speak English well become acquainted with an English environment was a top priority. As luck would have it, James LaLonde (Yodo1 Co-CEO), Terry Wang (Product Head at Yodo1), and Luke had just spent the last five years running a language learning platform, which built a community of nearly 5,000 online tutors, more than 100,000 active students, and close to two million subscribers worldwide. The core curriculum included 320 time-tested lessons. It was an obvious choice to use that curriculum for our training program.
“The next challenge was running Yodo1’s English training at scale, since hiring teachers and doing individual lessons wasn’t feasible for the nearly 120 staff enrolled in the program. So we built an automated system for sending assignments to participants,” explained Luke.
“The key thing is that participants are required to speak, to actually use the language. Their assignment then goes to a buddy, who watches it and gives them feedback. This approximates the demands of an international, English-speaking work environment, establishes accountability, and gets participants used to using the language.”
Even the best program in the world is only as effective as those who take part in it, and Yodo1 employees have been whole-heartedly embracing the challenge. “We’ve seen solid results so far, with high completion rates and more people joining the weekly live events. We are creating an English ethos step-by-step,” says Luke.
Huizi, the Recruiter and Hiring Success Manager who’s been with Yodo1 for a year now, says of the program: “I think it’s a good way to enrich our thinking. We talk to the team and others about work every day, and almost no other topics are involved, but the program allows us to talk more outside of work. After submission, my partner will give me some feedback; on what I’m doing well and what I can do better. I’ve been learning a lot from them.”
UA Creative Designer Liu Jing is also an active participant, going the extra mile and really putting in the time. “Learning English is not a simple matter; you need to be persistent and brave, and you will gain a lot. Recording and reviewing are helpful to me: I take time to do my homework seriously, and to record the words and sentences that I find difficult in it, and read them every day.”
The English Training Program continues to go from strength to strength. Yodo1 is committed to investing in the ongoing personal growth of its staff. Helping them improve their working English skills is just one way we do that.
If this work environment sounds like a place where you’d thrive, check out the openings on our Careers Page.
Yodo1 is a game platform company that helps developers better market, manage, and monetize their games. Our AI-powered tools and global expertise in areas such as mobile advertising, community management, and digital IP licensing enable partners to increase playtime, revenue, and retention. Our vision is to open the world of gaming success to anyone with the talent to develop. To learn more, visit www.yodo1.com and follow us on LinkedIn.