Corporate Language Training Program | Project Leader & Participant Roles

The role of project leader in corporate language training programs is crucial for supporting and guiding participants through the given project.

This article helps explore what strategic and practical tools are at the disposal of leaders to make sure that all participants can benefit from corporate language training. 

Dealing with underachievers in a corporate language training program works the same way as in any workplace situation. As we have made clear in our previous articles, we believe that the language training and development program ought to be considered a project apart.

Any corporate language training program should meet the company’s goals and necessities. As the basis for the project’s implementation, a strategic need has been identified, so the project’s participants should be selected based on objective strategic criteria.

corporate language training

Roles of the Participant in Corporate Language Training

Of each participant, you must ask the question: How will this language course help to optimize your performance at this company.

Once selected, each participant should be informed clearly about:

i) Their goals

ii) How much time they will have at their disposal to achieve these goals

iii) The tools and means available for the execution of the project.

It is also essential that a Project Leader be appointed, usually the Area Manager or someone from the company’s HR or T & D department.

Role of the Project Leader in Corporate Language Training

Still, even having taken all these measures, we end up with underachievers in corporate language training projects. How, then, do we deal with these people? How can we ensure that the whole project remains uncompromised?

In these moments, the role of the project comes to the fore, as it is his/her responsibility to ensure the project’s success. It is vital that the Project Leader accepts that it is their task to take care of the problem, and to take the initiative in finding a solution.

The Project Leader is best placed to handle the case, because they have the knowledge and tools to do so. They are also directly in touch with the people and know all about the problem itself.

corporate language training program

Be proactive about identifying the problem

Addressing the problem head on is key. The Project Leader needs to inform the underachiever that his performance is below expectations and find out what is wrong, whether there is a personal problem, or if workplace issues are provoking their decline in performance. Whatever the cause, the Project Leader needs to know about it.

Stick to the project’s objective

The objectives of the project and the role of each member should be clearly laid out from the start, thus ensuring that there is no confusion. It is very common for people to work hard on their tasks, but after a few minutes of conversation with the leader, it can become clear that they had no real knowledge of their goals or the company’s expectations.

It is vital that a Project Leader recognizes that there are differences between the stakeholders in the project. For this reason, imposing a one-size-fits-all solution that worked elsewhere may not be appropriate for the present situation.

Companies employ people from a variety of backgrounds, with different motivations and disparities in age. A Project Leader who treats everyone in the same way, will soon run aground. Groups are not homogenous, and neither are solutions

For the Project’s participants to play their roles successfully, the Leader provides them with the right tools to carry on the Project. In the case of language programs, it is crucial that the selected course contains all the activities, contents and resources, that the student requires of language project.

Achieving one’s stated objectives should be done in a pleasant, fast and efficient way. It is no use wanting these people to acquire a high level of fluency in a foreign language if a course does not have the essential characteristics for that to happen. This will lead to frustration among the participants and will compromise results.

Implement project initiatives and solutions 

corporate language training

Leaders should consider implementing peer-coaching with underachievers. It is an alternative that is less expensive, and can greatly increase a person’s motivation. Worthy courses offer a human figure who provides motivational feedback to students, highlighting their strengths and needs, and leading them to optimal outcomes.

Incidentally, the question of coaching and feedback is very important. It is very common for people who are part of a project to point out their leaders as the main reason for their success. When people receive ongoing feedback and performance reviews, they are more aware of their productivity and often perform much better.

Finally, the Leader should be aware that it is fine for them to have their own style of leadership. Being firm and assertive is not the same as being rude and aggressive. Skirting around a potentially problematic situation demonstrates poor leadership which will jeopardize the outcomes of the Project.

Want to know more about how to optimise corporate workplace English training solutions for your business? Feel free to get in touch!

 

Written by:

Ricardo Hilgenberg – National Director, E2Language Brazil

Colin David – Director of Business Development, E2Language

In Praise of Consultants: Workplace English Training

HR departments play a crucial role in facilitating the effective delivery and implementation of workplace English learning programs, and thus must make informed decisions about what these programs will look like. This article outlines why a consultant could be the answer to your HR department’s prayers!

Investments in Workplace English Learning 

Most large companies across the non-English-speaking world invest vast amounts of time and money in English language courses for their employees. Thanks to the inexhaustible need for investment in this kind of training, the market boasts an impressive (and almost similarly inexhaustible) number of options.

English Language course options

  • Those taught at traditional, bricks-and-mortar language school in-person and on-site;
  • Online platforms of every variety or, a good old-fashioned private teacher who will drop in to the office or home of the student according to whatever is required.

Each course will use any number of different methodologies, teaching systems and means of assessment.

Interestingly, it is rare to find a large company that will look upon their investment in language training as central to their business’s growth.There is a recognition that workplace English language learning is important, but it is still often regarded as something “nice to have” rather than something necessary to have. This mentality creates less than ideal environments for employees who need English language training to boost their performance and overall effectiveness at work.

Are HR departments failing to hit the mark? 

Until today, a common strategy used by the HR department that is usually tasked with dealing with the ‘problem’ of low English proficiency amongst employees has been to provide a stipend to deserving/entitled candidates that helps pay for an English course at an approved school.

This kind of lazy thinking may look good on paper, but in the long term most companies have found this to be a wasted investment. It is the list of ‘approved’ schools and the method used to compile the list that best illustrates this problem.

Companies end up with five or six schools – sometimes more – nominally providing the same service, i.e. language teaching. But this is not comparing apples with apples, since there are many variables that need to be considered, the least important of which is the price of the course.

What are the questions to consider?  

In the midst of a company’s rush to ‘approve’ a course, HR departments have some important questions to consider, like:

How is the student evaluated and how often?

What are our expectations?

Can I compare the results of School A with Online Provider B, School B and School C?

Failing to ask these questions creates a huge variation in results and, in the absence of objective parameters, no one within the company knows how to get its employees to the required level of English.

The result is that a lot of time and money is wasted trying to find the right course, at the right price for services rendered and with the desired results. It is a demoralising, Sisyphean process.

Do your research. Remove doubt! 
workplace English training language learning
Click on this image to view previous blog article on choosing the right English training corporate course for your company!

Consultancies to the rescue! 

An ideal solution to this futile scenario is to be found in the form of consultancies that specialise in the management of language training programs.

Consultancies aim to do the following:

  • Organize their client’s projects
  • Bring in levels of standardisation
  • Implement a strategic vision of the overall language project
  • Optimise resources and;
  • Ensure a timely return on investment.

In addition, consultants strategically manage workplace English language programs, giving back the company’s HR department the time to focus on their true areas of expertise.

A professional in human resources will be able to liaise with the consultant to analyse their reports and make informed, strategic decisions more readily.

What direction a might a consultant take?

The consultants begin their work by mapping out the standard of English of the employees who will be taking on a course. This usually involves written tests and face-to-face interviews, and marking in based on the six-level Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) scale.

At the same time, they will have selected high-quality, credible course providers for these candidates to attend, thereby eliminating waste and improving RoI.

Data gathering 

It is the responsibility of the consultant to carry out an analysis of the course curricula provided by the selected schools.

Armed with this information, they can then apply a level scale adjustment so that all the courses are reported to a unified standard. This allows HR to compare progress and evolution of learning across all approved courses. Further, it ensures a level of quality control and continuity that would otherwise be lacking.

Finally, a good consultant will conduct an analysis of each employee’s English language learning needs.

This data is based upon the individual’s initial test results, and helps guide them towards choosing the best course. It also determines how long they will have to take the course to achieve their desired level, and how much the company will invest in each person.

Climb to the top of the pyramid! 
workplace English training language learning
Working with the right consultant is critical for mapping out successful language learning programs

Project Control by HR

Used together, these measures bring the whole language project under the total control of an HR department that can then define the beginning, duration and completion of the program.

HR can also determine the intermediate stages of the action plan, including monitoring the participant’s progress, as one would hope to be able to do on any project taken on by the company.

For the record, in our many years of experience, companies adopting this strategy have experienced substantial cost reductions in their outlays for workplace English language training. What is more, they also saw a significant improvement in overall results!

Want to know more about how to optimise corporate workplace English training solutions for your business? Feel free to get in touch!

 

Written by:

Ricardo Hilgenberg – National Director, E2Language Brazil

Colin David – Director of Business Development, E2Language

English Language Training: Strategies for Achieving Results

Is it worth investing in English language training? In this article, we’ll explore the reasons why companies choose to cut English language training for their employees, and why it could be beneficial to re-consider your own company’s strategic goals. 

Workforce vs Current Employee? 

Now that the job market has become globalised, companies face the challenge of hiring the right professional with the right skill set for every position advertised. What set of skills makes this candidate more qualified to do the job than the next candidate? Does it all come down to job related skills and appropriate qualifications? Or do extra-curricular experiences tip the balance one way or the other?

And where does the ability to speak a foreign language proficiently become the deciding factor? In this article, we will advise on how to best approach and implement English language training and the benefits of doing so for your company.

Most companies confront these challenges by hiring English-speaking staff. They find themselves in a Catch-22: either they hire a professional who speaks English well but lacks the skills for the job itself, or hire the person with the best skill set and put them into English language training courses.

English language training
Trimming corporate English language training costs may cause problems down the track.

When the economy is weak, most companies consider language training an extravagance: it is fat to be trimmed, so they work to trim it from their budget. In the short term this may seem to be the most appropriate course of action. Business is slow, so when better to re-structure, keep on the highly-skilled core and get rid of the extraneous chaff?

With the money you’ve saved on payroll, you can invest in developing the team who remains according to the company’s strategic requirements. One can only hope that this will prove to be the keys to your collective success.

Corporate English Training Tips 101: 

There are numerous reasons why companies choose to cut language training, however, in so doing they are entering a vicious circle that they would be well advised to avoid. A company should be able to quantify the following:

1) Identify which professional needs language training, why they have the need, and how it ought to be carried out. Note that language training has to be a strategic decision.

2) There are very few suppliers of language courses that take on a strategic view in a consultative manner that respect the needs analysis of the client. Unsurprisingly, the few that do exist charge very high fees.

3) In the absence of strategic know-how, companies hire run-of-the-mill schools to carry out their language training. No needs analysis gets done, there is no strategic assessment of the students’ level, nor do they have an exact idea of how much time and money will be invested in language training and for how long. The result will be a never-ending training program, otherwise known as a bottomless money pit.

4) You have to keep your eye on your RoI from the outset. Since run-of-the-mill courses are often unengaging, this results in a general lack of motivation, low attendance/retention, and the slow, inevitable shuffle towards the end of language training.

 A game of chess anybody?

English language training
It’s crucial to develop strategic goals for undertaking English language training.

The benefits of English Language training

Everything, it seems, leads us to conclude that language training is an extravagant expense that should be cut when the economic tide turns against you. But that would be a mistake as it takes in only part of the wider picture. Consider the following:

1) First, HR has to take ownership of language training. It must be seen as an important and strategic aspect of the company’s overall strategy. The HR professional allocated to manage language training should be a person with strategic vision, able to develop overall and critical analyses of any aspect related to the main goal.

2) Language training should be carried out as a project, not just a benefit program.

3) When creating a language training project, a timeline should be properly prepared. Each part of the project must be delegated and assigned to the appropriate group of experts.

4) Determine why language training is important: who needs it? What do they need it for? How often it will be used?

5) It is essential to identify people within your organisation who are in a position to answer questions arising from training conclusively. If necessary, empower the HR department to do so.

6) Hire consultants who have experience in applying language placement tests. At E2Language, for example, we work with highly-credible international tests such as ETS’s TOEIC and Cambridge University’s BULATS. These standardisation tests enable the company to objectively see the overall level of its professionals, determine who needs language training and for how long, which in turn allows them to set the right budget for the project. The test will accurately determine which team members no longer require language training.

7) The company must choose a supplier that is able to deliver the required training at the determined budget. This supplier has to do more than the work of a regular school: it needs to carry out a detailed analysis of each department requiring language training in order to customise its course content. This process should be objective and efficient, never wasting company time or resources.

8) The company should be able to determine the length of any customised language course. This is basically good housekeeping, since the client ought to be in control of how much they invest and for how long.

9) Participating in a tailor-made program means that the students will appreciate the relevance of the course content. What is more, they should also be able to notice incremental improvements in their English level that will help to keep them highly motivated.

10) By treating language learning as a project, the company will be able to see the RoI on the language training: once the students have reach their goals, the training can be concluded.

At the end of the day…

Undoubtedly, it is best to hire a highly-skilled workforce, then invest in training your talent in a smart way. Do not think of it as an expense but a crucial important investment which, if done correctly with the right partner/supplier, will enrich your workforce.

Want to know more about how to optimise corporate English training solutions for your business? Feel free to get in touch!

 

Written by:

Ricardo Hilgenberg – National Director, E2Language Brazil

Colin David – Director of Business Development, E2Language

How to Choose the Right Corporate English Training Course for Your Business

Online corporate English training courses certainly have their advantages, but how do you know if you’re choosing the right course for your team?

Leaving the bricks-and-mortar model of language school when it comes to providing English language courses for your team has been a bit of a mixed experience for HR departments over the past decade or so since this way of learning became ubiquitous. Due to their flexibility and ease of access, online English training courses appear to be the way of the future, but when it comes to meeting the unique needs of a given company, many of these course providers fall short.

The trick is to know what you are meant to be looking for when you commit to an online English training course. In this article, we will highlight the key things to consider before signing on with any online corporate English training provider.

Let’s start by going over some of the most common red flags you should identify when choosing an online English training provider for your company.

red-303921_640  Corporate English Training Red Flags   red-303921_640

1. Irrelevant Content

Is the content up-to-date, relevant and fit for purpose? Steffi Graf was a great tennis player, but having her face on a lesson that labels her the “current number one women’s tennis player” is simply not good enough. What is more, it is common for some online course providers to offer live classes that have nothing at all to do with the content of the lessons they have completed. Worse, live group classes can have people with different levels of language competence in them.

2. Customisation Limitations

Some ‘business’ courses are simply relabelled B2C offerings, so your team go in expecting to improve their negotiating or presenting skills but end up learning how to order a coffee or talk about their next holiday. If a course provider promises customised courses, find out how deep this goes. If it is only a superficial rebranding of the landing page, something is probably amiss.

A responsible online school will take the time to listen to your company’s needs and recommend a course of action that works for you. A one-size-fits-all approach is a fast track to low retention and poor results.

Corporate English Training
No two team members are identical, and “one-size-fits all” methods won’t do your company any favours.

3. Sameness

A lot of people go into online training with a cynical eye, mostly as result of being power-pointed into submission over the years. Online platforms might look quite sexy, but the content is frequently static and seriously undynamic. You must ask yourself what is substantially different about Platform A when compared to Platforms B, C or D. If people are not challenged, they are far less likely to commit to the course from the outset.

4. Nothing but bells and whistles

Do not be fooled by shiny objects! Beautiful websites can be very alluring, but dig a little deeper and see whether you are dealing with a provider who values style over substance. The interface may be pretty but does the course offer personalised feedback? The selection of videos may be impressive, but are the related activities meaningful? If the user experience is poor, you will rapidly see a drop in student engagement.

 5. Sole focus on receptive skills

A common issue with some online English courses is that there are plenty of opportunities to improve your receptive (reading and listening) skills, but very little in terms of the productive (speaking and writing) skills. This is simply unacceptable. Any serious language teacher knows that the feedback loop is the element of the learning process that has the greatest impact on the learner. Students have questions all the time, so how is this dealt with by the platform? Are the people taking the questions properly qualified English as a Second Language (ESL) professionals?

Corporate English Training
Productive skills like speaking are integral to an employee’s success in English.

With these red flags in mind, let’s turn to two of the most important “must-haves” when choosing the right corporate English provider for you:

Corporate English Training Corporate English Training Checklist  Corporate English Training

1. Effective Project Management

The professionals in HR already have a hundred things on their plate, so actively overseeing dozens if not hundreds of employees during their English programs is pretty much of the question. What kind of support is being offered by the online course provider in this respect? Can I follow my team’s evolution in real time? How many classes has student X taken? Has student Y done any homework? How do the student’s compare to each other? How have they evolved over this period?

It is crucial that the online provider has an Account Manager who is (within reason!) always available to ask questions, clarify doubts and carry the whole learning process though from start to finish.

2. Return on your investment

The online course provider should be helping you and your team to make the most of the courses being offered. They have to be willing and able to show you the value to having committed to their product. This means they are setting goals, measuring outcomes and consistently striving to meet your company’s unique needs. Courses that fail often do so as a result of a general lack of engagement from both parties. If you really want more bang for your buck, the onus is on you to make sure you pick a partner who can deliver it.

The need for proficiency in English for business purposes continues to dominate the corporate world, and it’s important to know how to best provide your team with the tools for language success in the workplace. This process begins with a corporate English training solution that is as unique and dynamic are they are.

Want to know more about how to optimise corporate English training solutions for your business? Feel free to get in touch!

 

Written by:

Ricardo Hilgenberg – National Director, E2Language Brazil

Colin David – Director of Business Development, E2Language

 

 

What Do Teachers Want in an Online English Course?

If a teacher needed to take an online English course for professional development purposes, what tools and techniques would they want in the course to help them to succeed and pass the exam? To answer this question, E2Language decided to do a survey of the next generation of tech-savvy teachers- a group of education students in their final year of study in the Faculty of Education at Monash University.

online English course teaching

Surprisingly, or perhaps not so surprisingly, the responses we received from these ‘soon to be teachers’ echo much of the positive feedback we regularly receive from our IELTS test taking students who come to us for help in preparing them to take the IELTS exam.

(I should warn you before I go any further, we at E2Language really enjoy our research into optimal online teaching and learning practices).

Returning to our question, I should also mention that when we approached our ‘soon to be teaching grads’ to participate in the survey, they all seemed more than happy and willing to contribute their opinions and insights. If the enthusiasm of this group is any reflection of the next wave of teaching professionals being unleashed upon the world, our children are in very good hands indeed.

Our survey group was a relatively small sample size of 35 students in total. Though not particularly large, the results of the survey were unambiguous all the same. The survey wasn’t intended to be especially rigorous, scientific or exhaustive. Rather, it was meant to ‘take the temperature’ of our group more in the nature of a perceptions study.

Before commencing the survey, we explained the context of the survey. We explained that if a respondent had the opportunity to design an online English course to help them pass an important examination, what tools and techniques would they wish to have as part of that course? This is a situation that is broadly similar to that of our e2language.com students taking online IELTS classes to enable them to get into a graduate program or for other professional reasons.

To very briefly summarize the key questions, we asked respondents whether they would want their online English course to include:

  1. teacher-guided one on one instruction providing guidance and feedback?
  2. video or media based explanations of key principles and concepts that could be re-played?
  3. group oriented, participatory webinars?
  4. self-paced, self-directed practice exercises, activities and assessments?

The results of the survey, as I mentioned earlier, were clear.

Teacher Guidance

The responses to this question were interesting. More than three-quarters of respondents replied with a very strong YES- they did want some form of teacher guidance! This is a ringing endorsement of the important role a real teaching professional plays in efficient and effective guided learning.

At e2language.com, we have recognized this in the role of the IELTS tutor our students meet online. Tutors are well placed to give feedback on IELTS writing topics or IELTS speaking topics with answers.

Video and Media

We also asked our survey group whether they would want video lessons included in their online English course. Again, we received the clear answer that over 80% wanted video lessons illustrating key concepts ‘in action’ (which could be re-played). This implies that many wanted video delivering something more than a talking head.

Using video including explanations of concepts ‘in action’ is something we very much believe in at e2language.com. For example, using video to explain the IELTS listening skill requirements or de-constructing an IELTS essay sample is very helpful for many of our students.

Webinars

Teaching and learning, whether online or in a classroom should always be a social exercise. Interactions with teachers and other students provides a diversity of opinions and views necessary to acquire a well-rounded body of knowledge. The webinar is a tool that enables that interaction to occur online.

Despite its importance, surprisingly, our group responded to our question on webinars with slightly less enthusiasm than 1:1 learning. Perhaps this is because, as teachers, they approached the question more from a teacher-centric as opposed to a student-centric perspective. A good IELTS webinar, should function like an IELTS forum that is live- interactive and somewhat more balanced between teaching and learning- an online IELTS school.

Self-paced, Self-directed learning

Most online English course are either heavily video-based or heavily self-study activity based- a sort of ‘one technique or the other’ approach. A well-designed online course, our respondents told us, is more akin to a puzzle where the technical and methodological pieces need to be fit together in a holistic and coherent manner.

Well over 85% of our respondents stated that self-study, self-paced activities were essential to apply and reinforce the theoretical or conceptual aspects of the course. This would include examination practice questions.

In a similar sense, an IELTS self-study program is fine. It provides an essential element of skill building for students. The simulation of IELTS exam questions or IELTS mock tests is an important part of the self-study process. However, the application of knowledge is a part of the learning path that is towards then end of the learning journey. A good grounding in what to apply, when and how is equally important to contextualize learning.

Interestingly, what our survey told us- apart from answers to these specific questions- is that the teaching profession itself is more than willing to embrace these new and different ways of disseminating knowledge. Technology is not seen as a threat to the role of the teacher. Perhaps this is because teachers know and accept how important they are in helping students achieve their goals.

 

Written by Tom Connors.

What really is Blended Learning?

In this article, we will explain the concept of Blended Learning which is one of the main concepts behind E2Language.

A student that took a recent IELTS test asked the question: “is three hours of well-designed teacher-guided online English language learning as effective as thirty hours of teacher-led classroom learning?”[1] This question begs another: is the online learning environment better suited to the teacher-led or the teacher-guided approach?[2] With the shift to new ways of delivering English language test preparation, teaching and learning, are 1 to 1 sessions with an IELTS tutor online more beneficial than taking IELTS classes with a group of 20 or 30 other students?

These questions are very broad, of course. The effectiveness of different teaching and learning approaches is affected by the age, learning objectives and educational background of students. Nevertheless, using high-stakes English language exam preparation (PTE Academic, IELTS, TOEIC, TOEFL and OET) as the focus of this article, we examine how over-reliance on a teacher-centred approach (whether via video or in a classroom) can affect the quality of online learning outcomes.

Teaching and Learning

Teaching and learning is an iterative and dynamic communication process. The idea that teachers teach and that students, hopefully, learn neglects that teaching and learning is a two-way communication loop. This means that the teacher is also learning. Through direct teacher-student interactions, a good teacher will be sensitive to the student’s learning path, speed of knowledge acquisition and the depth of their comprehension. The pace and depth of knowledge transfer is continuously adjusted to achieve better learning outcomes for students.[3]

However, rather than taking a holistic approach as advocated by the teaching and learning literature, in practice, the online education revolution has been heavily weighted towards the student-side of the equation.[4] New technologies have been introduced to incorporate and distribute richer media and materials to students; or to shift basic testing and assessment online. To a great degree, the online education revolution has side stepped the role of the teacher. While student-centred activities have migrated online, new teaching approaches by and large haven’t.

Why is this the case?

Re-Visiting the Old ‘Teacher-Led/Student-Centred’ Debate

For a long time, a classical debate in the field of education is whether teacher-led or student-led learning is more effective? Is knowledge transfer more effective when a teacher stands in front of a classroom explaining and illustrating ideas- a method where students play a more passive role? Or, is the learning process more effective when students a take an active role and greater responsibility for acquiring knowledge at a pace and depth that better suits their individual requirements?[5]

These questions, of course, represent extreme positions on a continuum. Teaching and learning is a social interaction between teachers, individual students and groups of similarly situated students. To the extent that some optimal position exists somewhere in between differs for each and every student. On one hand, if students are not actively engaged in the learning process, they feel disconnected and quickly become bored. Effective knowledge transfer fails. On the other hand, if students are left too much to their own devices, they loose direction, confidence and the motivation to continue to learn.

In the online English language test preparation space, student support is heavily materials focused, not engaging and often completely without guidance. As a result, students quickly become bored and find it extremely difficult to maintain the motivation necessary to complete online test preparation programs. The extremely low retention rates isn’t very different from other more general courses offered online.[6] When left without proper guidance, many students have a tendency to waste time reinforcing skills they have already mastered rather than focusing on weaker skills.

The Internet and Blended Learning

Somewhere between the extremes described above, new technologies, tools and teaching approaches have emerged enabling new ways to find that elusive balance between teacher and student. The journey towards finding that balance has resulted in different concepts surrounding ‘blended learning’ also emerging.

First Generation Blended Learning

The first generation, and still the dominant understanding of what blended learning is, tends to place the teacher in front of a class or audience using a teacher-led approach, in the first instance. To the extent blending does occur, it is weighted heavily to the student side of the equation. The internet is used to provide new ways of distributing and providing access to digital materials not to mention the management of these materials and related media.

The teacher-led function occurs independently of the student-centred activities. Blending exists only to the extent that the new technologies are used to support the teacher-led approach.

New Generation Blended Learning

A more sophisticated concept of blended learning has evolved in recent years focusing on more sophisticated ways to better integrate the teacher side of the equation. With new tools and technologies, more efficient and effective ways of knowledge transfer are possible. At the same time, more sophisticated ways of designing and digitising materials to be more engaging also strengthens the student-centred side of the equation.

Combining the two, technology can be constructive rather than disruptive. A ‘constructive’ digital platform is one that provides benefits to all parties. This can only be achieved with good governance and guidance on the part of the teacher. The student has a role to play in meeting the terms of the student/teacher compact. This side of the bargain is more easily kept if students are engaged by the technology they are expected to interact with.

Seeking the Optimal Blend: Teacher Guided, Student-Led Learning

When more balanced blended learning approach is pursued in curriculum and lesson design, it should seek a more coherent balancing of strategic ‘guidance’ and constructive ‘engagement’. The new technologies can facilitate both provided that curricula is well designed involving a mixture of student informed guidance drawn from diagnostic assessment and face to face interaction as well as highly engaging, interactive, self-supporting teaching materials.

Rather than 30 hours of passive, classroom learning reinforced with un-engaging, static learning materials, studies suggest that 3 hours of 1 on 1 guidance integrated with well-scaffolded and engaging digitally delivered materials can generate as efficient and effective learning outcomes.[7] Further, rather than the one size fits all classroom approach, a more direct two-way interaction between teacher and student allows the teacher to better calibrate the speed and depth of knowledge transfer to individual student needs much better.

Studies show that well designed and scaffolded learning materials provide a more efficient path forward enabling students to self-direct their learning more effectively. The teacher is responsible for ensuring that students stay on that path and assist where weaknesses in understanding are flagged or identified.

 

[1] Palloff, R. M., Pratt, K. (2013) Lessons from the Virtual Classroom (2nd Ed). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

[2] Richards, J.C., Rodgers, T.S. (2013) Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching (3rd Ed). Cambridge UK: Cambridge University Press

[3] Innovation and Change in English Language Education. By Ken Hyland, Lillian L C Wong, 2013 Routledge Milton park

[4] Teaching & Researching: Language Learning Strategies. By Rebecca L. Oxfor

[5] Sheppard, C. and Gilbert, J. (1991) “Course design, teaching method and student epistemology” 22(3) Higher Education 229-249.

[6] http://static.duolingo.com/s3/DuolingoReport_Final.pdf

[7] Allen, E. & Seaman, J. (2013) Changing Course: Ten Years of Tracking Online Education in the United States.Wellesley, MA: Babson College.

 

Written by: Tom Connors