Traditionally English language training has been composed of weekly lessons – either in a group or on a one-to-one basis. This format suits busy professionals who are able to free themselves for this short time slot to attend their lesson, either after work or during the working day. The effectiveness of this type of course depends on ensuring a highly focused training plan combined with a trainer who is able to maintain the delegate’s motivation throughout the duration of the training.
With more and more constraints on professional people’s time, distance learning has become increasingly popular. Web training is an example of a distance training tool. A webcam enables the trainer and the delegate to see each other and the computer screen becomes both the whiteboard and a means of sharing documents.
eLearning software has been available for some years now and when used alone it is not always very stimulating. This is why ‘blended learning’ (a combination of face-to-face instruction with computer-mediated instruction) is becoming increasingly popular. Blended learning has a link of some kind between what the delegate does in the training room and the eLearning sessions.
Delegates can also log on to webinars. Webinars are seminars on the internet and provide the delegate with input at distance. An interactive follow-up is obviously a requirement for this type of training sessions to be efficient. Click here to view a sample webinar.
It is true to say that digital technology can bring learning material to life. The current developments in digital technology, however, focus more on general English courses, but professional training material will inevitably be produced in this format in the future.
Interactive White Boards (or IWBs) have become commonplace in school language classrooms. In the future we will be seeing more and more IWBs in professional training rooms. They enable the trainer to display his/her computer screen clearly. Videos, internet pages, dictionary definitions, tables, charts and diagrams can all be displayed quickly and easily with IWBs allowing the trainer to respond to delegate’s questions and to adapt the training session to the delegate’s learning style.
Inversely, there have been recent moves to remind trainers that the heavy emphasis on technology and any other materials in the training room such as books is not necessarily the best way to train. The dogme movement, which was started by the EFL writer Scott Thornbury at the beginning of 2000, attempts to refocus training sessions on the delegates and their knowledge and experiences, etc.
As mentioned, intensive-style Business English courses are becoming increasingly popular, particularly immersions and intensive days or weeks in training organisations. This approach helps the delegates to focus on the task at hand and facilitates a quicker solution to a problem (a gap in knowledge or skills).
As well as being more intensive, language courses are becoming more individualised and specialised than they used to be. The ‘one language course fits all’ approach is no longer considered the best way to meet delegates’ training needs. This is reflected in the needs analyses and subsequent tailored programmes that training organisations offer before setting up a course.
Organisations and their employees should always request a detailed Diagnostic Consultancy in which the type of Business English course, content, format and length is only established after detailed discussions and only after consideration has been given to level, needs, objectives and time constraints.