By Sarah Howarth
Every good training provider aims for participants on their courses to feel excited about their learning and eager to implement it at work. But days, weeks, months later, what can a training organisation do to make sure delegates are able to really use their learning at work?
At Language Services Direct, we believe that an important part of our role as a language-training provider is to support learners to implement, maintain and continuously build upon their skills long after their courses end. How do we do this?
At the end of each course, we provide the learner with an in-depth progress report. This details all areas of learning covered and measures progress made against objectives set at the outset of training. It provides an assessment of the learner’s current ability level in the language along with areas of strength and weakness, and, importantly, includes recommendations for further learning. This might include, for example, listening to specific radio stations/podcasts/audiobooks/music; watching foreign-language TV and movies (perhaps with subtitles); using language-exchange platforms to converse with native speakers online; and reading particular media, such as news websites with articles adapted for different levels of language ability.
It’s also helpful for line managers and L&D professionals to receive end-of-course summaries with detailed information on course content and the skills delegates have developed during training. Managers can then actively support and encourage their staff to use their language skills as much as possible for social and business interactions with colleagues and contacts. They can help learners create opportunities to use their new skills, perhaps to introduce themselves in Russian at a conference, make a presentation in Spanish or take part in a conference call in French.
Through Virtual Learning Environments, learners can be signposted to high-quality digital resources to enhance their learning and further practise their skills. There is a huge collection of language-learning websites and apps of varying quality available; expert trainers should curate this content in order to direct learners to the most useful and effective resources. These might include, for example, online language-learning software, vocabulary-building apps, flashcard software, and grammar-practice activities online.
Learners can book a remote coaching session with a specialist trainer several weeks after course completion to discuss the impact of the course on business performance and objectives, and to provide practical advice on how to enhance use of language skills at work.
At Language Services Direct, we firmly believe in reflective training practice (as well as reflective learning) and ask learners to provide detailed feedback on all aspects of their training, from the quality of their course materials to the amount and utility of self-study assignments. This, of course, includes feedback on the impact of our training courses on our learners’ work and business objectives, so that we can continue to learn and improve our performance in this important area too.