February 16, 2017

Opening the Door to New Methods in Language Learning

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Opening the Door to New Methods in Language Learning

What was once global has now become local. In our neighbourhood stores and markets, we can now buy  a wide variety of products  that we couldn’t taste or obtain years ago. In communication, the changes have been just as dramatic. Thanks to technological advances, we now take for granted that we can speak to people on the other side of the world as if they were next door! We are all aware of the doors this has opened. The ease of communication has allowed businesses to flourish and ensured that families and friends communicate across the world effortlessly, something I certainly appreciated when I was living abroad. Sometimes, in fact, the ease of communication can make people forget that language differences still exist – and that they’re important. Being able to communicate even basic concepts in the native language of the person you are speaking to has multiple benefits, extending from better communication to better relationships to better outcomes, in business and personal life. This fact is something that most international assignees know firsthand! And fortunately, technology has come to the rescue again, opening the doors to a number of new methods that make language learning easier than ever.

Embracing new ways of learning

A school classroom may still be the image many people have when they think of “traditional” learning, but it’s fast becoming eclipsed by technological advances that offer many different ways to learn: online courses, online groups, podcasts, apps, workshops, television programs, and immersion, just to name a few! You’d think that with all those potential approaches, there’d be no reason why anyone – even a busy, time-pressured international assignee – couldn’t pick up languages easily and quickly. However, as a trainer experienced with many different learning situations (prior to working in the language training team at Cartus, I taught English as a second language for six years), I know that the common myths about language training can still get in the way of success. 

Myth #1: “ I don’t have the time to commit to language classes”

This is certainly a factor in relocation, where employees are working a full-time job, having children start a new school, and living in a new area – all time-challenging enough without having to factor in language classes!

However, this is where new learning mediums can be a lifesaver. When commuting on a train you can log on to a language app and complete a quiz. When travelling you can log on to your hotel’s Wi-Fi and have an online language lesson. When driving you can listen to a language podcast. The flexibility these new methods offer is fantastic!

Myth #2: “Maybe online training is more flexible – but it’s not as effective as face-to-face training”

Another misconception is that online language training is not as effective as face-to-face training. During my teaching years, I worked as a trainer via the online teaching platform powered by Learnship. I was  more than pleased when, due to the partnership between Learnship and Cartus, Learnship actually became our online training platform! Their training is unique. On top of ease of scheduling that contributes to international assignees taking advantage of more training hours in more relaxed situations, their online classroom is interactive, with a real teacher conversing directly with the student. Customized lesson plans help learning proceed rapidly – and easily. I understand why many of you would be sceptical of this, and you’re not alone; I was too! However, once you become familiar with the easy-to-use classroom tools and capabilities, you’ll find that the training provides the same, if not better, resources than a physical classroom. The trainer is a real person, you can see and hear his or her face and voice clearly, plus lessons can take place all over the world at flexible times.

I don’t want to get on my soapbox here and preach that anything is possible, but thanks to technology, there’s a lot more that is!  For the first time, language learning can fit around your life and not the other way round. If you open the door to a new method of learning, it can fit around your schedule and help you and your family converse and feel more comfortable – more quickly – in the country that is your new home.

If you want to find out more about our face-to-face online language learning, powered by Learnship, and how face-to-face online language training can help your program, please email us at language@cartus.com we’ll be happy to schedule a free lesson so you can see how it works in person!

Picture of Cherida Parry

Posted By

Cherida Parry

About Cherida

Cherida is a Language Network Specialist in EMEA and has been with Cartus since May 2016. Cherida has a degree in Sociology and is a qualified English teacher of English as a Foreign Language. Prior to working with Cartus she taught English to Army Cadets from all over the world who were preparing to attend Sandhurst Military Academy. She has also taught in Hong Kong and Australia where she lived and travelled for a year.

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Dr. Maria Procaccino
As a communications and language teacher for many years, I am a big fan of all the new technologies to aid assignees in learning the basics of their new local languages. However, they are not and should not substitute for at least occasional f2f work with a language coach. Cultural subtleties, local peculiar usages and accurate pronunciation feedback cannot be part of a general onine language courses due to the diversity and dynamics of language. In American English, a sack is not the same thing for a New Yorker as it is to a Midwesterner. I live on an island that is 35x100; the east side of the island uses a different word for pan than the west side of the island. The north side of the island uses a different word for coin than the South side of the island. Communication is grand! And, as a language teacher, you must know that a common word in one culture's language can be a curse word (or worse) in the same language in a different culture. Technology is amazing for the basics, but for the nuances, there is nothing like a trusted coach or facilitator as your guide.
Patrick Lewis
Dear Dr. Procaccino,
Thank you for your insightful comments. We are in agreement that while technology is extremely useful in embedding learning in a person’s daily life, a trainer is needed as part of the learning process for various reasons.

As you point out, trainers can explain the many cultural nuances of a language which are essential to the ultimate desired outcome. . .clear and impactful communication. Trainers offer the learner a chance to practice producing the language in a safe environment, and receive feedback. We also ask trainers to guide learners to appropriate online resources, and to co-create learning strategies per customer that keep them motivated and moving forward. Because we place a high value on the role of a trainer in language learning, our online solution actually connects a carefully matched live trainer with a learner.

Cartus sees technology as a way to connect the best trainers with learners everywhere in the world. We also see technology as a way to connect learners to the target language in a way that is exciting and motivating to each individual.

- The Cartus Language Academy
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