‘Real’ teachers essential in a virtual classroom

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Chris Moore, director of In-company training at IH London, argues that there is no replacement for the ‘face-to-face’ teacher/student dynamic, whether in the classroom or via a webcam.
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Digital technologies have changed how we learn and experience languages, but have they made teachers redundant? Can we now learn via online software, or is a trainer still necessary to bring language alive and give it meaning? 

In all aspects of learning and development, and very much in language learning, technology influences how people learn. The list of digital learning options is long: e-learning, m-learning, video-based learning, games-based learning, peer-to-peer exchange sites, virtual classrooms, MOOCs and the number of teaching aid Apps grows day-by-day.

Digital dropouts

Online learning is international, measurable, and scalable – great for learning & development teams everywhere. But do students stick at it?  This has been an issue since the very beginning of web based learning, especially with self-study options, as studies have consistently shown very high rates of disengagement and dropout.

Now, the bigger online language learning companies such as Rosetta Stone are introducing more live tuition to run alongside their software-driven language learning ‘solutions’. Virtual classrooms support self-study and allow participants to focus on specific areas of concern. Perhaps this is recognition of the fact that a good trainer is an essential part of truly effective language learning. 

It starts with the teacher

At International House London’s In-company training teacher-led learning is where a course starts. The syllabus is designed specifically to the needs of the inpiduals and companies concerned, and the core elements are taught by our expert trainers. Content can evolve as the course progresses.  The trainer can adapt materials to suit particular learning styles and specific scenarios can be introduced easily.

This is then supported by an online learning platform, where support materials and links to complementary resources are uploaded by the trainer. This ensures that the blend can be tailored to specific needs and can be intensified or reduced as required. The trainer provides regular input and feedback on what course participants are doing online.

The best of online and offline learning

So far, the online component has proved an excellent way to support learning and create a strong bridge between classes. However, it doesn’t alter the fact that, for us, a teacher is at the heart of the language learning process and provides indispensable direction, focus, and engagement.

Language and cross-cultural training

International House London provides tailor-made language and cross-cultural training for your company.