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Business Communication & Language Training: More than just the trainer

Updated: Nov 29, 2018

When deciding how to implement your business communication or business English language training, it's a mistake to just focus on the trainer.

When I meet HR professionals here in Taiwan to talk about designing a training program, I often find that they focus on the trainer. I understand this happens because many training companies only provide face2face training and so they focus exclusively on the trainer. However, I'd like to encourage HR professionals to take a wider view of training.

Of course, a great trainer can add value to the training program, can motivate trainees to attend and can plan interesting lessons. However, in terms of getting training results and making the most of a training budget, the trainer is just 'the tip of the iceberg'. Three other factors are just as important:

1. Learning Content:

If the learning content doesn't have clearly defined learning goals and isn't focused on reaching those goals, training can just become an English club where the trainees talk about English, learn some new vocabulary and get some feedback on grammar without making concrete improvements.

Trainees may like the trainer and enjoy the course, but without focused learning content, they probably learn little of practical value that they can use in their work. So, while a great trainer can make a course interesting, it takes high-quality learning content to reach learning goals and make concrete improvements.

2. Teaching Approach:

My point about the teaching approach is simple. Some teaching approaches are much more effective than others. Although researchers might argue about certain points in teaching and learning theory, there are a number of widely held general prinicples in modern language teaching that everyone agrees on.

If your trainer or training provider isn't familiar with these basic principles, your trainees won't make much progress no matter how much they like the trainer or enjoy the class.

So what am I saying? I'm saying that when you are planning a business communication training program, it makes sense to ask about the teaching approach. And you should be concerned if the training provider or trainer can't provide you with a coherent training concept and not just simply making comments about using 'a communicative approach'.

3. Training Delivery:

Having excellent learning content and a modern teaching approach delivered by a great trainer is a great start. However, there is a lot of research that shows trainees forget up to 60% of what they've learned in a one-off training event. To be honest, it just isn't realistic to expect a trainee to understand, learn, practice and retain new learning content in one 2-hour training event.

What trainees need is the opportunity to study the content at their own pace first. Then have opportunities to practice using what they've learned, and ideally have the chance to review the content later [spaced-repetition learning]. This kind of approach allows trainees to retain much more of what they've learned.

That's why I strongly recommend a blended learning approach that combines online learning with face2face classroom instruction. I've been a corporate trainer for over 20 years and this approach makes the most sense in terms of getting real learning results.

So let me summarize. From my point of view it's a big mistake to just pay attention to the trainer without focusing on the quality of the learning content, the teaching approach and the method of delivery.


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