We believe that our responsibility as professional trainers is not just to teach our learners (in our case, language and communication skills), but also to show delegates how to create for themselves ongoing learning success.
Importantly, this applies to learning both inside and outside the classroom – and long after the course ends. In essence, we promote learner-centred training which puts the delegate at the heart of their own course and therefore, driving their own progress and success. To achieve this, we encourage learners to:
1) Set and score real-life goals!
At the very outset of every course, we ask learners to establish their own objectives for learning. They may want, for example, to confidently chair meetings or take part in challenging conference calls or write compellingly in their target language. Committing to goals gives the learner a sense of direction and motivation for learning.
2) Explore, discover and challenge!
The goals that learners set are based on detailed needs analysis. This is an exploratory conversation with their course manager, who is an experienced language learner and teacher. We ask the learner about areas of language they feel less confident in and about communicative skills that are important in their current roles and future careers. Only by discovering and identifying these areas can we design course content that will be challenging, relevant and engaging for learners, providing a strong return on investment.
3) Learn how you learn!
During needs analysis, we also ask learners for insight into their own learning preferences by exploring which learning experiences have (and haven’t) been successful in the past. We also advise on approaches to study which can actively promote progress, including regular review of vocabulary, blending training with digital resources, finding a conversation partner outside of the course, etc.
4) Put yourself in the driver’s seat!
We involve learners in designing their own course. This includes selecting relevant topics, materials, exercises, tasks and homework formats. Content should be personalised as far as possible to learner’s roles, business areas and interests to maximise its relevance and success.
5) Be the teacher!
The process of teaching and learning is an active one, and demands deeper understanding and engagement with the learning content. For this reason, we want our learners to teach! In a learner-centred classroom, you will see the delegate up at the board presenting information to the class, answering questions from their classmates and teacher. This energises the learning process and enhances progress.
6) Practise, practise, practise!
Learning success requires commitment to learning outside the classroom as well as inside. Practice in all forms is essential. Beyond traditional homework, there is now a wealth of digital resources that can be used for self-study and practice. Everything from digital flashcards for memorizing new words to news articles adapted for ability levels. Our role is to signpost learners to the best quality resources. They should be fun and engaging as well as effective for learning. That way, learners are most likely to use them and make continuous progress.
7) Progress on progress!
In a traditional progress report, you might see feedback from the teacher on content covered and learner strengths and areas for improvements. It is much more meaningful for learners to contribute to this process, by assessing what has been going well and not so well with their course – and identify further areas for improvement. Learners should also be involved in selecting ways to target these areas. This encourages learners to be responsible for and drive their own progress.
8) Get to work, at work!
The goal of business training should always be to build skills learners can actually use at work – and right now! Therefore, any assessment of training success must consider how able and confident learners are to use their new skills at work. Trainers can support learners to identify opportunities to do this and to promote their success. This might include bringing work content into the lessons, for example practising a presentation with the teacher before giving it at work. The more learners can use their new skills – and with success, the more motivated they will be to make further progress.
Here at Simon & Simon we can help you and your organisation to build on your language skills by providing you with bespoke language courses designed with your specifc needs and objectives in mind. Contact Simon & Simon today to find out exactly how we can help you.