Technology and the trainer: How to unlock effective communication skills through human interaction

Written by Armin Hopp on 21 June 2019 in Features
Features

Armin Hopp says communication skills need to be front and centre as digital transformation takes place.

Reading time: 4 minutes.

The relationship between technology and the language teacher is evolving more quickly than ever before. Technology has played a part in language training programmes since learners first listened to recorded conversations in classrooms decades ago. 

More recently, elearning modules took centre stage. Enhanced personalisation and mobile delivery of digital learning has made this type of learning delivery increasingly effective, but certified language teachers and trainers can still add value.

Technology and communication skills learning in the world of work are becoming increasingly interdependent.

As companies implement new digital technologies for collaboration, language and communications skills learning becomes an important amplifier for technological transformation and a vital catalyst for change. Effective use of new communication tools is now important at a strategic level if companies are to achieve their goals.

The machines are coming and the learning profession must be ready to maximise their benefit.

Modern workforce communication and collaboration tools that companies hope will support borderless working demand different styles of business communication. Employees have to be able to communicate effectively if these tools are to be useful.

Styles and methods of communication range from presentation skills, where employees are required to present their work in the digital space either in person or on webinars, through to more informal messaging skills, or face-to-face and web conferencing communications.

Communication skills of strategic importance

90% of global businesses consider foreign language skills to be strategically important and a key driver of productivity. However, foreign language skills training is not effective in isolation. It is much more effective as part of broader delivery of soft skills learning, such as presentation skills, leadership, negotiation and communication skills.

When companies are operating globally, effective communications are not just about foreign language skills, although this is a crucial starting point. Employees need to have cultural understanding and communication skills that encompass body language and a shared business sector vocabulary.

 

Learning technology, in the form of learning platforms that incorporate intelligent software, can support training professionals by allowing them to focus on their core roles. The latest learning experience platforms can personalise the learning journey for each learner, tailoring content, scheduling training sessions and assessing progress.

With the removal of these repetitive, administrative tasks, learning professionals are free to focus on the human interactions that make language and communication learning really stick.

Maximise human interaction

Here are three ways that language teachers and trainers can support blended learning delivery:

  1. Embrace digital transformation. Digital transformation is inevitable and learning professionals have an opportunity to benefit from incorporating emerging collaboration and productivity platforms into blended learning delivery. Bring technology into the learning fold to achieve the highest impact and value from the business’ investment. Collaboration technologies can facilitate setting up communities of learners who can support each other with peer mentoring.
  2. Make intelligent use of human interaction. Human interaction will always be key to language and communication skills acquisition. Digital learning works best as part of a blended learning delivery, supported by human interaction ranging from peer mentoring to one-to-one of small group learning with professional trainers. The concept of blended learning, a 70:20:10 mix of learning through experience, learning through social and peer collaboration and formal classroom learning, is as valid today as ever. The difference now is that intelligent software can help training professionals identify the very best moments in each individual learner’s journey for human interaction to boost progress. Intelligent software can also help match learners with the most suitable peers and trainers, based on shared interests and skills levels.
  3. Renew your focus on core skills. Freed from administrative overheads, training professionals can focus more closely on outcomes, assessing individual learner progress against business objectives. Training professionals can put themselves in a better position to contribute to business strategy, armed with measurable outcomes that demonstrate how enhanced language and communication skills are contributing to business goals such as greater productivity or sales in new territories.

Supporting new ways of working

Many companies are implementing collaboration technologies to underpin new ways of working. Traditional top-down organisation is giving way to flatter hierarchical structures.



The idea is that the workforce becomes a global resource, and employees can be drafted into virtual teams based in countries around the world to work on specific projects. However, this can only work if employees have good language and communication skills on top of their professional and technical skill set.

As language and communication skills become a high strategic priority, the role of the professional trainer is more important than ever. Artificial intelligence will not replace the human dynamic but it can help training professionals identify the very best time to deploy the human interaction that will help consolidate and hone soft skills.

The machines are coming and the learning profession must be ready to maximise their benefit.

 

About the author

Armin Hopp is the Founder and President of Speexx.

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