Five things to look for in digital language training

Written by Donavan Whyte on 31 July 2015

Digital, or e-learning is a convenient training solution in the workplace. Increasingly, employees identify with training delivered electronically and have the benefit of learning at their own pace and around their existing commitments.

For language learning, e-learning can provide an ideal environment as it gives learners the opportunity to practice speaking the language and to hear it spoken with correct pronunciation. E-learning tools can incorporate activities that engage learners and content can be revisited as needed to perfect skills. Having decided to implement an e-learning language solution - or any type of online training for that matter - either on its own or as part of a hybrid training methodology, here are five things to look for.

  1. Interactivity – well designed, virtual learning environments help learners actively acquire knowledge. Programmes that allow learners to immediately apply their knowledge reinforce understanding. Simulations and role plays are a great way to provide realistic foreign language speaking opportunities while games and activities help practice in a fun way —students can learn fast without realising they’re actually learning. Speech-recognition within all activities helps pronunciation and raises self-confidence. Good e-learning programmes will have these features that stimulate active knowledge acquisition. Textbook learning often relies upon rote memorisation and translation which is less effective at engaging the long-term memory and only speaks to one type of learner.

  2. Personalisation – each person learns in their own way. Personalised programmes provide targeted learning paths with content relevant to each learner and adapt to individual learning styles, delivering a learning experience that supports learners by progressing at a pace that suits them. Programmes should bring back content that learners showed weakness in so they can revisit it. Effective language e-learning programmes continuously compare the learner’s voice to that of a native speaker and provide instant feedback on pronunciation, intonation and accent, and take into account any speech impairments.

  3. Comprehensive, high quality content – language learning content needs to be well put together, of a high quality and comprise carefully sequenced lessons that introduce vocabulary and grammar. The content should be designed to help the learner develop the four core skills of speaking, reading, writing and listening and be developed by experts such as linguists,curriculum designers and educators. Content should use a combination of words, pictures and listening/speaking exercises to keep learners engaged.

  4. Mobility – a big advantage of e-learning programmes is that they can be mobile, helping learners fit their study programme into their busy schedule. Learners should be able to take their learning outside the workplace if it suits them and the business. By accessing course content on smart devices, learners can continue to study when they work at home. Look for programmes where the content synchronises so learners have access to the full programme functionality whichever device they’re using.​ 

  5. Measurement, reporting and support – e-learning programmes that give administrators access to reporting tools ensure the business can track, measure and demonstrate learner progress. Experienced training providers help organisations with their change management, implementation and rollout, administrator training and learner engagement. With any online learning programme, ensuring take up and usage of the training is critical to ensure learning objectives set by the organisation are met. 



About the author
Donavan Whyte is Vice President, EMEA Enterprise & Education at Rosetta Stone. Donavan contributes regularly to the Enterprise & Education blog at

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