By Corporate English Solutions

22 March 2022 - 09:14

A businessman smiles during a meeting with other professionals.

Our 'Spotlight' articles highlight real life case studies. Sato Holdings found success in a global market by embracing English as “their official language”, and so were able to improve communication among their international customers, expand business opportunities, and share knowledge and best practice globally. 


Achieving success 

Sato Holdings is a great example of how when the right training programme and company vision became aligned, not only can course take-up and motivation increase, but employees can become proud of their ‘official language’ with global alignment and better international connectivity.

“This online course produces results, and employees' attitudes to learning has increased greatly.”

Robert Koo and Yuka Omae, Communications Department, Sato Holdings Corporation

The context

Sato Holdings Corporation is a global auto-ID solutions company that helps businesses run smoothly by tagging ID to any trackable item. Sato is present in 27 countries and does business with over 90 countries.

In 2013 Sato’s president announced that they wanted to make English their official language by 2020. Why? Because following high drop-out rates from their initial English training initiative, Sato needed to re-engage employee motivation and improve English proficiency quickly. Scores from the English ability assessment CASEC (equivalent to TOEIC) were low especially among their managers.

The challenge

Sato required a beginner-friendly intensive programme from a trusted provider that would enable them to lead teams and promote global projects confidently in English.The flexibility and approach of the online Business English course product allowed a global solution customised to their needs. The aim was to:

  • expand business opportunities
  • share knowledge and develop best practice globally
  • increase employee motivation and confidence in English
  • meet their business goals, including to improve CASEC English ability assessment scores to 571 (equivalent to TOEIC 500) by the end of 2020 for all employees based in Japan.

The solution

The best training solution was an online self-study course. Employees followed 'Practical English 7', a general English course aimed at improving core English skills for A2 – C1 (CEF) level learners.

Why they chose the online self-study option

  • It's the most cost effective training for a large number of employees
  • It's flexible to HR needs as materials could be restructured or reordered, allowing selection of topics, functions and key language skills
  • It's easy for participants and HR to assess, track and monitor progress, therefore reducing time spent on in course management by HR
  • It's flexible to individual learner needs as participants could learn whatever they needed at their own pace and wherever they wanted
  • It's beginner friendly (employees with low levels of English especially liked the explanations and answers in Japanese).

Positive impact on motivation and excellent course results

Sato recorded positive changes across their organisation. Motivation levels increased with some employees becoming English Promotion leaders tasked with promoting English learning. Competitive goals were set among offices to increase assessment scores. One employee was so motivated they studied more than 230 hours in six months despite a busy workload!

They were also able to quantify the impact of the training, beyond an overall general improvement in employees’ core English language skills. 

  • 80% of participants increased their CASEC English ability assessment scores.
  • There was a 99% course completion rate.
  • Some managers with an initial CASEC assessment score of between 450 and 499 achieved a goal of 571 in just one session (Score is equivalent to TOEIC 500).

But the greatest success went beyond the programme to employee advocacy afterwards; some employees have gone onto continue training, even though they are paying for it themselves. 

Upskill your team and create your own success story. Discover training and assessment solutions from the British Council

Find the right training course