Building language skills in 2016

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With the New Year under way, now is the time to examine business plans for 2016 and ensure that resources are allocated appropriately to support training and learning & development programs for employees in the coming year.

Language Learning Drives Profit

Globalization has changed the face of business and workforces have become increasingly diverse. Companies already operating globally, or with plans for expansion next year, may find themselves to be facing a language skills gap. To fill this void and improve communications, productivity and safety, smart businesses are taking advantage of the latest digital learning (or ‘e-learning’) programs in the market that can offer a convenient solution for employees looking to learn a new language to support business needs and personal growth goals. These language learning programs allow employees to learn at their own pace, wherever and whenever it suits them, around their existing commitments.

E-learning tools incorporate engaging activities and utilise techniques grounded in an understanding of human behaviour and motivation to maximise completion rates. Many now take a more “gameified” approach to language training, creating a fun learning experience that results in a more engaged learner.

A mobile and interactive experience

As the global marketplace has changed, so has the workplace. Employees may rarely visit an office, they may work largely on the move, spend time at customer premises or work from home. To accommodate this new dynamic workplace environment, e-learning is increasingly becoming synonymous with mobile learning (or ‘m-learning’), which means employees can fit their study programme around their busy schedule and keep going with it wherever they are.

Learners may also choose to continue their language training outside the working environment. By accessing course content on smart devices, they can study on-the-go or at home. A huge advantage of m-learning programmes that synchronise content is that they give learners access to the full programme functionality on whichever device they’re using.

Well designed, virtual learning environments help employees actively acquire knowledge and immediately apply it to reinforce understanding. Simulations and role playing can provide realistic foreign language speaking opportunities while games and activities aid practise in a fun way. Many of the leading language programmes like Rosetta Stone incorporate speech recognition technology into their e-learning and m-learning programmes, allowing the user to practice speaking the language they’re learning and get immediate feedback on pronunciation.

Speech-recognition within all activities helps employees perfect their pronunciation and raises their confidence to have a conversation in a real-life situation. Good e-learning programmes will have these features that stimulate active knowledge acquisition. Textbook learning often relies upon rote memorisation and translation which is less effective at engaging the long-term memory and only speaks to one type of learner.

Meeting individual needs

Each person learns in their own way. As such, personalised learning programmes are necessary to provide targeted paths with content relevant to each learner that adapts to individual learning styles. In this way, the learning experience supports learners by progressing at a pace that suits them and delivers the appropriate difficulty level based on the learner’s proficiency. .

Training delivered classroom-style can run the risk of leaving some learners behind. It progresses at one pace, which may not suit all. E-learning programmes can bring back content that the individual learner showed weakness in so that they can revisit it. It’s a level of tailoring that’s personalized to their learning needs.

Likewise, language e-learning programmes can compare the voice of that specific individual to that of a native speaker. It’s a technology-enabled benefit for language learning that companies can take advantage of in this digital age. Instant feedback on pronunciation, intonation and accent treats the learner as an individual who is on their own path to language fluency. Rosetta Stone even offers live tutoring capabilities for its e-learners.

Well thought out, high quality training content comprised of carefully sequenced lessons that introduce vocabulary and grammar focuses the learner to develop the four core skills of speaking, reading, writing and listening. A combination of words, pictures and listening/speaking exercises, together with regular feedback and encouragement maximises learner engagement.

Tracking the results

Every training programme has a set of objectives, milestones and outcomes. They have to prove their worth to the business so reporting tools are a must in e-learning solutions. Through them, the administrator can track, measure and demonstrate learner progress.

Experienced training providers help organisations with their change management, implementation and rollout, administrator training and learner engagement. With any online learning programme, ensuring take up and usage of the training is critical to meeting learning objectives set by the organisation. If implemented effectively, language training can contribute to growing businesses by expanding market share, increasing customer retention, engaging and retaining top talent, and much more.

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By Jane Hodgson
05th Feb 2016 15:05

Wholeheartedly agree we need to develop language skills but this seems more like a pitch for e-learning (or M learning) than a real look at the changing linguistic landscape of the workplace.

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