Recent articles about learning have noted that the average adult attention span has plummeted to below that of a gold fish (~6-8 seconds). While I haven’t cross-checked this statistic with any gold fish lately, it’s safe to say that we are engulfed in an increasing amount of distractions, mainly in the form of technology.
There is a constant clash between the challenges and benefits of technology. On one hand, more screen time and devices can be detrimental to our ability to focus and devote attention to important content. On the other hand, technology provides an immediate channel to fulfill our innate desire to seek and absorb new information. In other words, it is natural for us to want to learn new things. Therefore, our challenge is not getting people to learn. It’s giving them the resources and guidance to learn and apply what they need in a practical and efficient way.
So what does this mean in the field of Language Training?
Traditionally, a language learner would dedicate a predetermined number of hours in a classroom with a teacher, a black board, and a text book. Today’s modern assignee does not have time for this, and that’s okay! Teaching methods are constantly evolving to keep up with the latest trends. A lesson may occur in the form of gamification or task-based exercises; in the months and years ahead, language learners may be utilizing ear buds for translation or robots and holograms for teachers. The reality is that teaching methods can wear many disguises, but their goals remain the same. The key is to identify your assignees’ challenges to design the best program that addresses their unique needs while using modern learning tools.
What can employers do to better support your employees and language learners?
1. Encourage development through Language Training
Many employers often feel that it’s not worth the time or investment to provide a language benefit for transferring assignees, particularly for short-term assignments. This could not be further from the truth; in fact, even as little as 15 hours of learning a language can create an immediately beneficial foundation for your assignee’s upcoming assignment that directly impacts their overall perspective as they embark on their assignment.
2. Harness data to drive results
There is an overwhelming amount of data in the cloud and on the web; use it to your advantage! IOR, for example, is utilizing API’s (Application Program Interface) to develop a tool to provide on-demand Language Training statistics and metrics for language learners; we also provide a robust virtual selection of learning materials easily accessible by all language trainers working with your assignees. Howcan you harness data to better support your assignees?
3. Leverage simple virtual tools and resources
A quick Google search will reveal that there are hundreds of virtual tools for learning a language. Why limit your assignees to only one? We encourage the use of multiple virtual resources in classes facilitated by a qualified teacher. This allows for unique on-demand lessons conveniently applied to real-life situations.
4. Provide easy access to data and resources
Look around and count how many devices you have within reach. Odds are, there are at least two or three. Your assignees should have quick access to what they need on any device. When learning a language, this could mean picking up the phone to have a quick practice conversation with your teacher, using a tablet to check their learning progress on a company app, or joining a virtual platform for a formal lesson with their teacher. Make sure your language training provider offers these options.
5. Ride the wave of new technology
There’s no turning back now! What’s modern today will be outdated tomorrow. Stay abreast of new and exciting language learning tools and don’t limit opportunities for innovation. Despite the constant change around us, everyone is out to find meaningful interactions with others regardless of the media they use to achieve this. As employers and leaders in your respective organizations, you hold the key to help your assignees connect, not only to their devices, but to their own path towards success.
By Agata Pacioria
Director of Language Training and Technology