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.
Corporate English Training Red Flags
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.
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?
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 Checklist
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!
Ricardo Hilgenberg – National Director, E2Language Brazil
Colin David – Director of Business Development, E2Language