Language Training Center finds lucrative niche in sports

Martin George didn’t pursue a job in big-time sports. Far from it.

But the former director of IUPUI’s English as a Second Language program has found himself in high demand among some of the world’s biggest athletes and sports properties, from basketball star Yao Ming and IndyCar Series drivers to the NCAA and LPGA.

George’s Castleton-based Language Training Center has offered language and culture training, interpretation and translation services locally, nationally and internationally since he left IUPUI to found the firm in 1993.

But only in the last five years has George, 49, found his business taking a decidedly athletic turn as sports properties have started to expand globally.

“The world of sports has really changed in recent years,” said Brazilian IndyCar Series driver Ana Beatriz, who was referred to George by another foreign-born driver. “It’s so much more important to be able to understand not only multiple languages, but different cultures.”

Beatriz said she quickly found out there were many nuances to the English language and American culture that she needed to learn to be able to deal effectively with sponsors, media and fans.

“Merely translating words from Portuguese to English didn’t always work, didn’t always make sense,” Beatriz said. “Martin taught me the importance of things like intonation, accent and different [catch] phrases.”

George, a Connersville native who has spent considerable time in China and other far-flung locales, said his company has grown revenue every year but 2002. Growth returned in 2003, when revenue jumped more than 20 percent—a pace he’s been able to maintain since.

“In the early years, our sales calls didn’t always get a real warm welcome,” George said. “Now, what field isn’t doing something internationally? And so the need for our services is much better understood.”

George speaks six languages, but his company deals in more than 100. He has a full-time staff of 15 and 85 contractors to handle the company’s growing demands.

The women’s professional golf circuit, the LPGA, has golfers from 29 countries. It hired George’s firm this year due to an influx of non-English speakers and recently extended the contract through 2012.

LPGA officials want golfers on the circuit to mix with sponsors and the media and to speak as much English as possible.

George and another instructor, Erica Tomasik, travel with the LPGA, tutoring players one-on-one in the clubhouses, at tournament host hotels or through video conferencing.

“This may feel like an LPGA [initiative], but it’s really a business [initiative],” said LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan. “I don’t really consider it a language program. I consider it a cross-culture program.”

The growing number of Asians on the LPGA tour were known for being extremely reserved, and it was left to George and his staff to break the ice.

George initially began working with three golfers earlier this year. But word quickly spread of the program’s effectiveness, said LPGA Chief Communications Officer David Higdon. Now, about 30 LPGA golfers are using LTC’s services, including American Vicky Hurst, who is studying Korean, her mother’s native language. Such training might create business opportunities for American golfers seeking broader appeal in growing golf markets in Asia and other parts of the world, George said.

Higdon said golfers’ ability to communicate effectively is most welcome at pro-am outings. Those events, which are typically played a day or two before a tour event, pair professionals with amateurs, who are often sponsors.

“Interaction between the golfers and sponsors during those events is extremely important for the golfer, the tour and the overall growth of the game,” Higdon said.

“It’s about respecting one another’s culture, yes, but knowing the culture also is definitely a recipe for business success,” said Diane Thomas, president of the International Center of Indianapolis. “Companies that educate themselves in other languages and cultures are in a better competitive position.”

Zak Brown, president of locally based motorsports marketing firm Just Marketing International, said some sports properties are adjusting rapidly to the globalizing marketplace. Others, he said, are still struggling to grasp the importance of language and cultural training.

“It’s quite easy to make an innocent mistake and even offend someone by not understanding cultures,” Brown said.

George said the importance of such training is now spreading beyond professional sports. His firm has already done some translation and training for the NCAA, but he thinks that relationship could grow considerably.•

I Wanted To Take The Time To Thank You For Your Amazing Services, Both Tom And Hayley Were Tremendous Help Onsite And Even Prepping For It. Looking Forward To Doing Business With You Guys In The Future.

D. Henriquez

Thank you so much to all of you for this workshop, I absolutely loved all the information you shared and will definitely continue to address cultural differences in class.

French Instructor

Thank You So Much, I Really Enjoy My Classes With Joyce I Love Her She Is Very Nice Teacher.

J. Nolaya

I wanted to say thank you for matching me with such a good teacher. I really feel much more confident after just a few lessons and this makes such a difference in my day to day happiness and feeling in Japan – the power to communicate is really important to me.

Japanese student

I cannot express enough great things about this experience. Jeancois was absolutely fantastic- professional, flexible, and dynamic- qualities I have found that some interpreters don’t always demonstrate when working with the pediatric population.

Bilingual Professor

I Enjoyed Studying With LTC. I Am Grateful For The Great Work With Ana And Her Professionalism To Customize Themes And Her Support In My Daily Life. I Feel More Comfortable With My Language.

D. Triviño

I have to say that Karen has been an amazing teacher. She is very kind and always is searching the way to explain me everything. Always works in her class in advance. Long story short she is great.

Student from Mexico learning English

Several months of training with Judith passed very quickly. It was interesting, the atmosphere was great, I will miss our lessons!

Project Management Employee

I really LOVE my Portuguese classes and Juliana is TERRIFIC… I never had a teacher as great as Juliana, she is amazing and it is teaching me not only to talk in Portuguese but also about the Brazilian culture that is helping me a lot to understand the way they communicate…

Student in Mexico

It was the 3rd class with Kathy today. She is the best English trainer I’ve ever met. Her lessons really work good. So far I have nothing I need to ask you.

Nissan student from Japan.

I would like to commend Catherine Thille for her professionalism. The sessions were always on time and well structured.

French Student

The Classes With Katelyn Are Amazing. I Am Very Happy To Have Her As My Professor. She Is An Amazing Teacher And An Excellent Person. I Am Learning A Lot From Her. She Is Very Patient, Responsible, Punctual, Very Clear, And With Great Experience Teaching. She Is Helping Me A Lot To Improve My English.

Anonymous

My Classes With Connie Have Been Excellent. I Would Even Go So Far As To Say That They Have Exceeded My Expectations.

M. Bush

The LTC Is The Best English Training Compared To My Previous Language Training Experience Because They Really Understand What I Needed And The Important And Suitable Materials Useful To Apply At My Work. They Give Me Confident To Speak In English And My Writing Is Improving.

D. Sriyunilawati

The instructor [Jeff] taught me not only English but also American culture, history, and food culture. He also gave me advice on getting a driver’s license, buying a car and furniture. Thanks to him, I started jogging and became healthier. He has helped me to make a full start in my new life. Thank you for introducing me to a very wonderful instructor.

Japanese student learning English

Joseph was an excellent instructor. He was very dedicated to teaching me the language skills I needed for my upcoming assignment.

Student from Government Program

This Year Went Very Well. The Interpreters Were There On Time Every Day And Very Helpful To Catherine. I Did Not Have To Think Twice About Their Service. Thank You.

C. Carol

I appreciate you, Anya and Lauren for leading the training. It was very beneficial and I got to immediately use some of the material in my class.

Language Training Workshop Teacher

Floriana was an absolute delight, and I could not have asked for a better teacher. She was outstanding, well-prepared, adapting course materials to my needs and interests, responsive, caring, dedicated to making course content fit with my context, and most of all a friendly and smiling face every week for someone new in town.

Student from Denmark learning Italian

Juliana is even more than an amazing Portuguese teacher but also a cultural expert and a very lovely person. I will really miss her a lot…

Portuguese Student

Our ENL (English and a New Language) team refers to her as a superhero and it’s no joke—she is truly amazing! Kitty does so much more than just interpret our conferences. She is someone who understands how school works and who can give us important cultural context, which is incredibly valuable.

Director of Student Services

Gabi was afraid to tackle speaking, until we just starting talking. She has now put out a yoga video with her speaking English. She will teach this class twice a week.

Maggie (Teacher in Atlanta, GA)

On behalf of Freedom House, I would like to sincerely thank you for you and your team’s services today. Your presence helped us to ensure that the event went smoothly and that all of the attendees were able to participate. Thank you so much!

Freedom House

I’m so grateful to have you interpreting these important and complex issues for our student!

Current ASL Client

Thank you so much for your interpretation service – it has been a blessing to work with you and has been so helpful in a meaningful way!

Current ASL Client

Kazuko Is A Wonderful Teacher And A Super Sweet Person. Thank You For Your Services And Timely Responses In Everything. I Plan To Recommend Ltc To Any And Everyone I Know Interested In Language Learning. Thank You!

J. Brogan

I Appreciate Your Qualified Language Training Program Very Much. You Made It Possible To Improve My Knowledge In The English Language In A Lot Of Ways: A Significant Increase Of Vocabulary, Repetition And Consolidation Of Grammar And Practice The English Language By Using It In Conversations During Every Lesson. I Am Very Thankful For All They´ve Done And I´ll Always Recommend Your Institution In The Future.

C. Muth

I can say only that Ruth is an amazing teacher. I am absolutely satisfied with our classes. Thank you so much for your attention.

Language Training Student

I thoroughly enjoy working with him. He has all the proper material and the patience. our classes are very instructive and he doesn’t waste time.  Alvaro has been really good at being able to construct the pieces and then put them in place so that it all comes together and becomes usable. 

Spanish student

I Would Recommend Ltc To Other Global Companies Requiring Interpretation Services. During Our Event, The Performance Of Ltc Made Me Feel At Ease Which Allowed Me To Focus My Attention On Other Aspects Of The Event. I Believe That When You Work With Ltc, You Will Receive A Professional And Efficient Team Of People Who Will Do Everything In Their Power To Deliver Excellent Service.

D. Hayden

Thank you both very much for all you do. This translation project will go incredibly far in informing many of our Veterans and their families, on the important facts and information surrounding our current pandemic.

EEO Specialist (Equal Employment Opportunity)

Ben and Andrea did a superb job, and were very prompt and courteous. I would highly recommend them for similar jobs in the future. Thank you, Sadie and Paige, for working with us as we make our show more inclusive.

ASL Client

Thanks Wendy for all your help! You are a terrific manager. What a difference between my GLobal LT experience and working with you!!

Teacher

Thank You For All Of Everyone’s Help With Fumiya. We Have All Seen Him Grow With The Ability To Communicate On The Daily Tasks. I Will Definitely Keep You On My Contacts In Future Situations Thank You Again Have A Great Day.

J.

I Really Enjoyed My Time With Christine, She Is Amazing, As I Told You She Helped Me A Lot Improving My Conversation Skills. The Classes Were Really Dynamics\ And I Never Felt Like I Was In A Strict Class. I Want To Say Thank You Again And I Hope In The Future To Take The Training Again. I Will Recommend Ltc With My Venezuelan And Latin Friends.

F. Inciarte

We meet virtually now. He even gave me a cooking lesson….he tried his best to do it in Japanese but we ended up doing most of it in English ????. While I may have learned less words, I certainly got to learn how to make tempura!!

Patrick (Happy Student in Tokyo)

I have had wonderful interpreters from LTC in the past, who have done a great job providing precise and accurate interpretation. Ms. Li, however, goes far above and beyond what is expected. I’m so very grateful for her exceptional service to both this family and to ZCS.

Director of Student Services

When Covid hit we were cautious allowing anyone but the patient in the office and this is a wonderful helping hand in the matter.

Interpreting Location Manager

I Really Have Appreciated The Classes With Nancy – She Is Wonderful Teacher And I Was Very Motivated To Learn More (And Always Felt Badly When I Struggled Because She Inspires One To Want To Be/Do Better). I Am Very Appreciative Of Having Had This Opportunity To Work With All Of You. It Is One Of The Very Best Language Classes I Have Taken In Years.

A. West

The ongoing lessons have helped break up the routine of quarantine and more importantly, a source of learning and personal improvement during these extraordinary times.

Jasmin (Student in Mexico City)

The Classes Have Been Great. My Knowledge Has Increased Tenfold, Thanks To My Classes And Personalized Curriculum. The One-On-One Nature Of The Classes Ensures That Learning Is Catered To You.

K. Singh

Kathleen, you have been an amazing and reliable addition to this student’s team for the past five school years. I want to express my gratitude to you as well as gratitude from the parents and student. We all appreciate your dedication to his access success!

Student’s School to Our Teacher

Thank you. I appreciate what you do to help our Company succeed with better communication for our fellow employees.

Director of Human Resources – Staffing Company

I Hope All Is Well. I Wanted To Follow Up Regarding The Translating Last Weekend. The Gentleman Helping Us Was Fantastic. He Was The Epitome Of Customer Service And Was So Knowledgeable. He Is The Biggest Asset You Have At Your Company.

Anonymous

Thank you for organizing these workshops for teachers, we learn so much from each other and grow to be better instructors.

Language Training Instructor

Their phone interpretation service is a very easy and convenient service for us to use when we are seeing patients in the office. Douglas Price is a great person there and is very good at communicating with our practice and helping us with anything we need. Great company!

Practice Manager

Overall, I Thought The Course Was Fantastic. I Feel Like I Learned A Lot And Improved Significantly. Astrid Is A Great Professor. She Took The Class Seriously And Made It Enjoyable. She Did A Great Job Of Recognizing Everyone’s Weaknesses And Helping Us Improve On Them. She Focused On Improving Our Grammar While Also Keeping The Class Conversational. The Lessons Were Well Prepared And Focused On Areas We Needed To Learn, Not Just By-The-Book. It Felt Like The Class Was Tailored To The Student’s Abilities. I Am More Than Satisfied.

K. Corrigan