Language: The Ultimate Power Tool

Language: The Ultimate Power Tool

Byrne’s In-House ESL Program Opens Up Life-Changing Opportunities for Employees

Philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein once said, “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” By that same logic, when language is no longer a limitation, the world opens up, becoming full of possibilities—both personal and professional.

And that’s a belief that Byrne, a Rockford-based power manufacturer, can really get behind.

Byrne’s employees bring with them a wide range of life experiences. They come from different backgrounds, different communities, and often different countries. Over the years, as more foreign-language speakers began to seek out the company for the opportunities it offered, Byrne’s leadership understood that communication is not only a critical component in building products but in building understanding as well.


Byrne began to explore the idea of offering their employees English as a Second Language (ESL) programs in 2015, and officially started teaching classes in 2016. In 2020, Byrne began partnering with the Literacy Center of West Michigan to further increase the reach of the program and provide team members with powerful learning opportunities that might not otherwise be possible.

To enroll, employees are required to complete a pre-assessment test to match them with peers at a comparable language level. The classes typically see 10-20 participants per session and are held twice a week—on-site—making them easier for employees to attend. Byrne even compensates students for work time missed while they’re in class.


Ni Hniang, originally from Burma (Myanmar), joined Byrne in 2019 and when she learned of the company’s ESL & Citizenship classes, she quickly got involved. Working to improve her language skills subsequently helped her earn multiple promotions in 2020 and in 2023.

“In my opinion, learning from the ESL classes at Byrne was highly beneficial, says Ni Hniang. It significantly aided in my communication with colleagues and the hands-on, practical teaching was more effective than watching online videos.”



At the end of every ESL session, each participant receives a certificate of completion to recognize their achievement—and for some, that’s just the beginning of something even bigger.

Among the program’s 165 participants and 89 certified graduates, 19 have actually gone on to become United States citizens—a certification that requires individuals to pass a test in English. For these newly-minted Americans, Byrne not only offers reimbursement on citizenship test application fees and a paid day off to attend the ceremony but even helps them mark the special day with an in-house celebration and the gift of their own U.S. flag.


Whether pursuing citizenship or not, the ESL program continues to help employees make stronger connections—both within the company and with the company itself. More than half of the team members who have participated in the classes are still with Byrne. The language skills cultivated in those sessions help employees feel more confident about engaging with their peers and leadership, strengthen their work productivity, and increase their optimism about opportunities for advancement. Program graduates have moved up to key positions as “Special Forces” and “Delta Forces” team members, Mold Tech II specialists, and production supervisors.

In April of 2024, Byrne celebrated 7 employees who have successfully finished their English as a Second Language course and received their certificate of completion.


Cady Cin, who manages the ESL and Citizenship program at Byrne, believes it has become a genuinely transformative force within the organization, streamlining workplace communication by mitigating language barriers and reducing misunderstandings.

“Managing the ESL program is deeply intertwined with my personal experiences as a refugee arriving in the U.S. back in 2012,” says Cin. “Serving in this role has been a fulfilling responsibility, as the challenges faced by our team members with English as a second language resonate deeply with my own past experiences.”

For Cin, the professional advancements she has seen participants make are an additional source of pride, highlighting the program's efficacy in addressing linguistic challenges and helping to propel individual career trajectories. For the employees who have been positively impacted by the program, it underscores that words matter. Words like education, inclusivity, opportunity, and personal pride matter. And so do the people that speak them.

Previous article

What are the Risks of Non UL Listed Products in Your Workplace?

Next article

Byrne Renews Its Commitment to Sustainability

Byrne Renews Its Commitment to Sustainability