I love this time of year when you get a chance to take a look at what worked well for your business and what didn’t. I normally find that I have hindered my own success by not having had the courage to overcome a fear of one kind or another.
This year I finally I realised that I cannot help enough people if I am working purely one to one with people here in Berlin. Online learning will let me access a more international audience.
What’s so special about personal coaching (121) anyway Corinne?
I love that pure focus that you get when you are working one to one with someone, where I can really zone in on their Business English, the way they learn. It’s all about really targeting the skills that they need to feel confident speaking in English, in a way that is professional and yet still authentic. Despite keeping us on track, we do laugh a lot and we come back feeling invigorated, I just love it!
The bottom line is we tend to be best at the things we do well and I’m going to blow my own trumpet here, I am good at teaching Business English face to face. Recommendations are my assurance of that but just like you, I need to step outside of my comfort zone.
The truth is though that I actually feel fairly comfortable doing audio and video so it is time to start using that to my advantage, which means Byte Sized English webinars and a podcast are two things to look out for in 2017.
Back in 2003 I was considered one of the pioneers in online language teaching and was one of the first Business English teachers to qualify as an online trainer in Germany, speaking at an elearning day in Hamburg for instance (in German no less, go me!)
So what’s the big deal about online language learning anyway? How would that even work, without speaking?
Well the great thing about language learning is, well – it is a bit like learning to drive a car actually.
You have a lot to focus on. You have to watch out for what is happening in front of you (what you want to say next) and you also have to make sure that your rear mirror is free (the guy listening is understanding what you have just said). You have to find the gear (vocabulary or words/terms), accelerate (pronunciation) and be ready to brake (grammar). On top of all that you are keeping an eye on the traffic (eye contact, body language and facial expressions), the road signs and traffic lights etc (formality of your communication, political correctness and speed of speech).
It’s a mind field.
But only … when you are learning!
In the conventional corporate Business English training which I was a slave to for almost 10 years, it always felt like a compromise. I HATE compromise and am always looking for a workaround instead.
You see in a meeting room, (where incidentally nobody in their right mind wants to be, do they?) the trainer is expected to focus on business communication skills (this is certainly the case in Germany, Finland and Sweden) .
Modern language learning research discourages grammar teaching and instead encourages learners to learn the grammar through relevant speaking tasks. That said, it is not easy to get adults that have been brought up in a conventional school system, to accept that and embrace a new approach. There is this inner necessity to understand why and to a certain extent, a trainer has to accept that – for the learner to be able to move forward with learning.
But online it’s different!
Online, this can be resolved beautifully. Those that feel the need for grammar in the old school way, can help themselves to tutorials, videos and quizzes to help them. But at the same time (literally) their colleague can focus on pronunciation either with a trainer in real-time or by listening to audio files or watching videos to help them.
Webinars are really popular too because in my case at least they are focused on a particular communication skill, usually there is a recording too, although attending live makes learning easier.
Creating a richer, more diverse learning environment online, builds teams.
At Reuters in my corporate days, I worked in a phenomenal international team that really pulled together. Everybody was genuinely committed to ensuring that the equity data was totally reliable. This working environment was nothing short of incredible and inspirational. Every desk was assigned to a different part of the world and that diversity was powerful beyond belief.
It was this fascination for international teams that inspired me to find out more about online learning for Business English. Given my background it just made sense!
I was the first to roll out online language learning in companies like Wustenrot, Heidenhain and Astra Zeneca and I was learning all the time but the all important interaction wasn’t what I had hoped it to be. The ‘engagers’ were blown away by this new, targeted approach, enabling them to cherry pick what they learned and squeeze it in between client work. But for me it was disappointing.
Just 20% shared my enthusiasm and interacted regularly and their communication confidence soared. Another 40% followed the course half-heartedly and the rest either logged on once or twice or not at all. On reflection, that was a pretty good outcome apparently.
I was too optimistic, assuming that everybody would be as excited as I was, about this new, fresh, communicative approach to improving their English. I put my heart and soul into it but at a time when social media still wasn’t mainstream, I guess a lot of people still felt ‘naughty’ learning online when they felt like they should have been working.
I was too early.
So 2017 for me, will be about coming back to a team based, international approach to learning – online training. I’ll be delivering more training via video and audio, (taking me back to my days as a radio presenter) to capture the voice that gets even the most embarrassed to speak in English.
Business English can seem a long way off if you haven’t spoken English recently.
I’ll be bringing teams together from different international and national locations, cultures and language bases to improve their Business English and communication skills like I did at Heidenhain, with teams taking part from literally every time zone.
The plan is to work with young companies to set up online language learning systems to support their staff in a way that makes sense for the staff (building loyalty) and the management team.
Not all online either…
These start-ups tend to neglect healthy living, so we’ll be walking the talk with my #languagenergy programme too.
I’ll be developing language learning benchmarking systems starting right from the pre-selection language testing to the nitty gritty beyond language teaching, which puts leaders through their paces with higher level communication skills, preparing them for the global stage.
Just like there is more to driving than getting the car from A to B. There is more to communication than just Business English.
Just 3 Days
If you have a little more time at work next week, as things start calming down, you’ll be able to take a sneak look at what to expect. On the 20th, 21st and 22nd of December I’ll be showcasing what online language learning can ‘look like’.
It’s not all click throughs and grammar I assure you.
Nothing like school either. E-learning rocks.
Why not come and join me on this challenge and kiss the bear!
It is free, it’s just three days, 30-45 minute time investment a day in small 10-15 minute slots and you can reserve one of 20 places here bit.ly/BYTEkissthebear (Please just one per start up)
Feel free to ask any questions about the challenge on my Facebook page, Professional English for Women
or just call or email me in English or German, see you on the other side.