It’s been a buzz word for what seems like a decade…the millennial. What are they? Who are they? Am I one? Are they cool? Are they all hipsters? Why is everybody talking about them? These are just some of the questions you’ve probably asked yourself about this thing called the ‘millennial’ in the last few years.
So, to answer a few of the questions above; millennials are ‘people reaching young adulthood in the early 21st century’. Actual dates have never been formalised, but the general consensus is that they are people born between 1981 to 1996. If ‘cool’ is synonymous with ‘young’, then yes, they are cool. If not, they’re not cool; they’re just young(ish – for some of them anyway!). Everybody’s talking about them because they are the arguably at their peak; they are the workers, the artists, the mothers, the fathers, the managers and the pioneers. This is their time. It is estimated that by the year 2020, more than half of the world’s entire workforce will be made up of millennials and Gen Ys (born after 1996).
With this in mind, we thought it prescient to look at how we can cater for the millennial language learner when designing and delivering professional language training. Millennial learners often want their training to be:
- contextual – with real-life activities and reflection
- able to ‘pull down’ when they want, rather than having content ‘pushed on’ them
- less formal
- objective driven and learner centred
Millennials want to achieve, they are ambitious, and they need to know what they should do in order to be successful. Millennial learners are:
- digital natives
We’ve pulled together 5 ways in which courses and trainers cater for the millennial learner; each one ticks at least 3 of the boxes above:
1. The flipped classroom
Appealing to the autonomous digital native, this allows learners to be given the resources to review the main content for the lesson in advance of the class. In the context of language training, this could be a real-life work situation for example; they could watch a YouTube video in the target language on presentation tips. They would then attend the next lesson armed with knowledge to be activated in class with the support and guidance of a trainer. This maximises the time available in the lesson to practise the language and receive precise and targeted encouragement and correction from the trainer.
2. Task-based learning
This appeals directly to the millennial learners’ preference for hands-on, contextual and autonomous learning. Task Based Learning (TBL) is an approach to language teaching that encourages learners to use the target language to communicate with the purpose of completing a practical task. In this context, a task is a goal-oriented activity with a real, measurable and testable outcome. Click here for an example and further information.
For pull-down, autonomous and varied language training, use of multimedia is the way to go! What constitutes a multimedia lesson? It’s one where content is provided via a combination of different channels, such as; text, audio, image, animation, video and interactivity. This appeals to the millennial learner as this is exactly what they’re used to in their everyday life- using apps, the internet, smart TVs and streaming sites. Ideas for in-class multimedia activities include:
- YouTube videos – for listening activities, or speaking activities
- Google images – for vocabulary, speaking and writing activities
- Spotify – for listening, vocabulary and writing activities
- Social media – for writing activities (writing posts)
- Audacity.com – to create bespoke listening texts
4. Variety and bespoke design
Research has shown that millennials appreciate and expect variety in their learning. The reason is simple: we are all different, so why should our learning be the same? Here at Language Services Direct, we pride ourselves on designing courses with our learners’ specific needs in mind. Not only do we design bespoke courses, we have also developed a series of tailor-made, interactive courses designed to address gaps in specific language skills often encountered in business situations. We offer these specialist courses, MasterClasses, in a range of languages and formats, including blended learning options.
5. The learner-centred classroom
The popularity of this approach has been building for quite some time, probably due to the number of millennials currently in education or training of some kind. So, what’s it all about? It is a method of teaching which shifts the focus of instruction from the trainer, to the learner. Just some of the reasons we promote this method are:
- It boosts learner motivation, dedication and commitment
- It promotes learner autonomy and therefore life-long learning
- It equips and reinforces skills required in the professional life of learners
Find out more about the learner-centred classroom here.
At SIMON & SIMON we can help all types of language learner by providing bespoke courses designed with the aim to meet your individual and unique learning objectives.