Key Drivers for an Efficient Learning Program in a Corporate Context

15 February 2024

Over the last years and as with all buzzwords, there have been many interpretations and descriptions of the term “blended learning” (Mason & Rennie, 2006). For our purposes, blended learning denotes learning or teaching combining autonomous distance learning and in-person learning. Because of the increasing significance of language proficiency in today's globalized business landscape and the advantages of language proficiency for career advancement and internal corporate mobility, it makes sense to emphasize the strengths of blended learning with online platforms. This paper presents an overview of the dynamics of blended learning for foreign language acquisition and examines how blended learning offers the ideal learning environment for working adults in a corporate setting.

Foreign Language Learning and Professional Growth

Language proficiency is a potent catalyst for individual career development and internal mobility within a company. The evolution of markets, multinational corporations, the seamless integration of cross-border operations and collaboration, and international networking have increased the need and significance of effective communication across not only countries but also cultures and languages. Foreign language skills and effective cross-cultural communication foster trust, mitigate misunderstandings and conflict, and amplify the effectiveness of communication, which in turn can have a positive effect on everyday business operations such as negotiations or collaboration.

Foreign language proficiency can also create opportunities for internal mobility within organizations, helping professionals transition seamlessly between roles and locations, and to demonstrate adaptability and a keen understanding of diverse cultural and market dynamics.

Professionals have very specific needs and differ quite significantly from learners in full-time education. For many members of the workforce, it is already difficult to find a decent work-life balance, so personal development or further education are often indefinitely postponed or simply abandoned. Autonomous remote learning, and hence eLearning, seems to be the best solution. Of course, language learning is a long process that requires engagement and motivation for its duration. Learner engagement and motivation can be difficult to sustain in any learning context; the challenge is greater with working adults and even further augmented in pure eLearning situations where learners are on their own without a trainer holding them accountable and helping when needed. It is no surprise that pure eLearning is frequently associated with higher dropout rates and lower retention rates. Furthermore, foreign language learning requires speaking and verbal interaction, which is a challenge to achieve with autonomous eLearning and online tools.

Blended Learning: A Pedagogical Powerhouse for Language Learning

It is important that both blended learning components are clearly and visibly linked. A well-planned blended learning curriculum combines the strengths of its two components for a more effective and motivating learning experience. The three most important factors to keep in mind for efficient and engaging blended learning are: curriculum design and course planning; learning analytics to enable trainers adapt and fine-tune their program based on learner motivation and learning habits; and communication to ensure that learners have a sense of accountability.

Implementing Blended Language Learning in a Corporate Context

The course content of an effective blended learning program is easily-accessible, relevant and engaging to maintain learner motivation.

At the outset, a needs assessment should be conducted to enable the tailoring of clear and realistic objectives. Of course, the technological infrastructure in place needs to offer good access conditions and accessible and user-friendly learning tools.

A well-planned blended learning curriculum combines the strengths of its online and face-to-face components into one coherent and structured program. This means personalizing and differentiating the content so it is relevant and meaningful to each learner. At the same time, there must be a clear and visible link between the two learning methods, because if one of the two learning methods is perceived as not relevant, learner engagement will drop.

Communicating clear timeframes and expectations is also crucial. Learners must always be aware of what they are supposed to do and what is expected of them; insufficient communication will lead to confusion and loss of motivation. Also important for maintaining learner motivation is planning realistic lessons and learning durations. For autonomous study, bite-sized and micro-learning content is preferable.

Finally, clear deadlines, check-ins, and evaluations should be maintained. This includes regular assessments of the blended learning program's efficacy through learner feedback and performance data to ensure that the program is aligned with organizational objectives.

The Indispensable Role of Trainers in Blended Learning

Trainers are crucial in developing and maintaining an effective blended program with a holistic approach. Therefore, trainers should be involved in designing curricula that seamlessly merge online resources and face-to-face sessions, thus ensuring the pedagogical quality of the course and all resources involved. Trainers are mentors who guide learners along their personalized learning paths, encourage collaborative learning and cultural exchange, provide nuanced explanations and cultural insights that transcend the capabilities of automated language tools, and connect the in-person and autonomous online learning components.

Technology will not and cannot – this is our firm belief – replace trainers. That is why we must equip trainers for the new role in which they not only teach but also leverage technology.

Online Platforms, Your Ally in Fostering Language Proficiency

Ready-to-use online learning platforms have a number of advantages (the first being that they are ready-to-use) which cater to diverse learning preferences. An online platform, for example, provides access to a range of resources such as exercises, video tutorials, authentic texts, and multimedia content. Many learning platforms are available in several interface languages, different device formats, or both. Others still offer personalized learning, gamification or sustained motivation strategies to engage learners.

Another important asset of an online platform is progress tracking and data-driven learning. This approach enables trainers to fine-tune their teaching, ensuring maximum effectiveness, and allows companies to follow up on the learning progress of their team.

Finally, some providers of online language learning platforms offer holistic blended learning packages which combine the use of their online platform with – usually virtual – face-to-face classes with qualified trainers: an all-in solution that makes efficient language learning and planning more convenient.

Conclusion: Navigating the Path Forward

Blended learning with an online platform is a flexible teaching and learning approach that efficiently combines autonomous online learning and in-person or teacher-led instruction. It is ideal for foreign language acquisition for working adults as it aligns language proficiency with the demands of modern and rapidly evolving careers. The synergy between online resources and trainer-led classes is pivotal in cultivating proficient and culturally adept professionals who are poised for remarkable career growth in the global arena.

Want to know more about Altissia’s solutions for blended learning for corporate learners? Check out our 1-to-1 Pro-Packs!


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