What Makes a Good Language Trainer?

Pascale Chauvot

11 Aug 2010

In a recent article entitled ‘The Corporate Domain 1’, the author argues that being a good corporate language trainer requires ‘expertise, confidence and commitment’. Trainers need to have extensive knowledge of the profession in which the delegate wishes to be trained. This knowledge usually comes from qualifications (in finance, insurance, business, etc.) but is preferably reinforced by a certain degree of experience. It is also necessary that the trainer be competent as a language trainer; in other words, he/she has completed some kind of certificate in general training approaches and techniques.

This professional expertise, however, needs to be continually updated and demands a lot of commitment. The language trainer should keep abreast of all the developments taking place in his/her specific professional domain. This is obviously easier if the trainer continues to work in addition to doing training. If not, the trainer should consider reading the specialised press, subscribing to relevant websites, joining relevant associations and even attending courses. Not only is expertise in one’s specialised area essential, but the trainer should also know about new ideas and techniques which could help him/her convey these skills to the delegate more efficiently. There is an enormous resource library available to trainers to maintain and update their knowledge.

Both of these areas of knowledge are essential if the trainer is going to inspire confidence in his/her delegate(s).
A good trainer should be interested in the delegates he/she is training and retain a certain degree of flexibility in his/her approach. The trainer must not forget that he/she is training individuals who have different learning styles and emotions. He/she must therefore be ready to change an approach if it is not working and enquire if the delegate seems perturbed or unhappy about something. Training programmes are guidelines and if the delegate requires to review something, has a vital document he/she would like to work on, would like to see more on a specific area such as presenting or negotiating, then the trainer should consider modifying the programme accordingly. Obviously this last point is more relevant to individual courses and might not be appropriate where a group is concernedA good language trainer is a confident person who is able to transfer this confidence to his/her delegates. Professional adults often come to the training room with bad ideas about their ability in foreign languages. Maybe this lack of confidence stems from a bad learning experience at school, or even as an adult. The belief that we are one day ‘too old’ to learn a foreign language does not help this situation either. The trainer needs to make the training experience as positive as possible by helping the delegate believe that he/she is able to acquire the necessary language. The trainer can do this by showing and referring to what the delegate can do as the training course progresses.

A language trainer trains his/her delegates how to do things by using the appropriate language and does not give general language lessons. The delegate usually comes to the training room in order to improve his/her ability to do different things professionally. Therefore, the language course can only be drawn up after a diagnostic consultancy has been carried out in which the delegate’s level of language, professional needs and objectives are analysed. A good trainer makes sure that he/she is in possession of all this information before preparing the training course content.

A language training course is only a moment in time and the delegate will need to continue learning after the course has finished. A good trainer emphasises the ongoing nature of learning and directs the delegate to relevant websites, material, etc. and gives advice on study techniques, etc. which can help him/her. A lot of good websites exists for language learner.

 



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