Since Covid hit our lives back in 2020 we have all become familiar with using technology to communicate, and in the workplace we don’t think twice now about connecting with colleagues via our computers or phones. But how has this change affected English Language Learning? After 2 years I think we can assess our experience and work together, both language trainers and language learners, to improve the Distance Learning experience.
As a Language Learner do you like Distance Learning? Or do you miss the personal contact of Face to Face learning sessions? Do you get restless after 20 minutes? Does your mind wander during the session?
From the trainers point of view I can tell you, we miss you! We love the immediate interaction with our Learners, we can pick up clues from your body language if you are enjoying the session and finding it useful. We feed off your energy and enjoy your involvement in the session.
So, what are the drawbacks of Distance Learning?
The basic problem is spending too much time sitting in front of a screen. When we know that the average duration of concentration or sustained attention of a human being is around 15 minutes, we understand the problem.
Another problem is feeling a little bit detached as we only see your head and shoulders and we miss many non-verbal communication clues.
And Of course, let’s not forget the frustrating technical problems when the sound is bad or the screen freezes. Arrh !
So, what are the advantages of Distance Learning and do they outweigh the drawbacks?
From the Learners point of view: If you live a long way from your trainer, you’ll surely find Distance Learning a godsend. You can be in contact with your favourite trainer wherever you live, or however busy you are.
Also, having the internet at your fingertips is a real plus. It’s great to have access to resources on YouTube and other websites which are just a click away.
The trainer can make great, interesting slides. Pictures and images can replace the white board in a very engaging manner.
So, what is the key to a successful Distance Learning session? Firstly, avoid approaching it in the same way you would a F2F session. The trainer must avoid relying too much on technology,and remember above all the objectives of the Learner.
But the most important aspect, from both the Trainer’s and the Learner’s point of view is….. Keep it interactive.
Remember that language learning is about communication, speaking, connection, conversation and contact. So keep both Trainer and Learner must keep it lively.
Furthermore, efficient learning is about targeting the WHY…. Why are you learning? Why do you need to improve your English? What are your immediate and long term objectives? Basically, what is your why ?
If both Trainer and Learner keep these points in mind, you’ll be sure to have a great Distance Learning session.
Susan Barke 15/07/2022