11 December 2018

Business Language Training: Why Face-to-Face Matters

face to face language training

I have a few questions for you:

  1. Do you remember the name of your favourite teacher?
  2. Why was he/she your favourite teacher?
  3. What would you say to that teacher if you saw him/her tomorrow?

I asked this question around the office and got the following responses. Are they similar to yours?

  • She was kind, friendly.           
  • He really listened to us.             
  • He made learning fun, so I actually looked forward to the lessons.                     
  • She was able to inspire me when others couldn’t.            
  • I would say thank you!            
  • I owe you a lot.        
  • I wouldn’t be where I am now without you.                
  • You taught me many things, not just the subject you taught.

Now, imagine a world without real-life teachers; the positivity and gratitude above may not be as easily expressed when describing a favourite learning app or other digital resource. This is not to say that digital learning does not have its advantages, it certainly does, but should it ever fully replace face-to-face learning with a trainer? We’ve outlined just a few of the reasons we believe it shouldn’t. Serendipitously, they fit into a rather appropriate acronym!

Teacher experience:

Learning happens when it’s memorable; so, what makes things memorable? The answer is personalisation, humour, real-life experience, anecdotes, personality and truth. This is what classroom-based training with a trainer can bring; their very own unique experience and character.


What’s a trainer’s greatest tool to monitor their learners’ focus? Their eyes! If a trainer notices that a learner may have become distracted, he or she can act to refocus the learner and get on with the lesson. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for digital learning.


Teaching and learning require adaptability; one size does not fit all. Therefore, a good trainer will be able to adapt and adjust to their learners’ particular needs, objectives and learning styles. Adaptability means that trainers are able to switch and change tack when required, for example; when a learner asks a difficult but relevant question, when the learners struggle with a particular concept, when initial objectives change over time etc.

Emotional intelligence is another string to the bow of any trainer worth their salt (how many idioms can you fit into one sentence?!). Trainers need to be able to adapt and adjust according to the messages they receive from their learners, for example; if a learner is unusually quiet one lesson, they shouldn’t be pushed to contribute as they may be going through a difficult time outside of the classroom etc.


What is language, other than communication? The two are inextricably linked, and how you learn a language should reflect this. Classroom-based teaching is the ideal training ground for learning languages, encouraging communication of all kinds. This includes not only verbal communication like discussions, dialogues, debates (all with considered and efficient error correction) etc., but also, gestures and body language, which are both key in language learning and effective communication.

Help is at hand:

A big advantage that classroom-based teaching has over digital learning resources is the fact that there is a walking, talking dictionary/thesaurus/problem-shooter…i.e. the trainer! If a learner experiences some kind of problem whilst using a digital resource, for example; they don’t understand an activity, they don’t know the meaning of a word, they get stuck on a particular grammar point etc., it may be a long-winded process to find the answer. Whereas, in a classroom scenario, the problem can be addressed immediately.

The final say…

When it comes down to it, there is no need for a big battle between classroom-based teaching and digital resources; instead, we should all accept that a compromise is the best option. Classroom-based teaching should include multimedia elements, and learners should consider language learning apps the ‘modern day workbook’ and use them for self-study and homework. To conclude, language requires human interaction; and therefore, so does language training. Find out about our approach to professional language training.

Contact Simon & Simon today to find out how we can help to arrange a blended, communicative and effective approach to business language training.

This article was originally posted on our sister company, Language Services Direct’s website.

Business Language Training – Why Face to Face Matters
Article Name
Business Language Training – Why Face to Face Matters
In a world of digital resources, why does classroom-based training remain key? We take a look at just a handful of the compelling reasons to keep language training in the real world!
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SIMON & SIMON International
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Lessons will likely start online before transitioning to face to face, based on government guidance during COVID-19.
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