Last week I was in Berlin to give a presentation at a conference called “Sprachen und Beruf” or Languages and Business. My presentation got me thinking (and hopefully it got the audience thinking too). A large part of my presentation was dedicated to the goals of job-focused Business English training from the perspective of our participants, the clients (managers) and the training managers. In other words, what sort of training do our customers really want?
We included video interviews with the various stakeholders in the presentation. When I sat down and watched all of the videos, including the out-takes and the drafts, it was obvious that there was a very strong recurring theme throughout.
Quite simply, and this will probably sound obvious, our customers who buy our InCorporate Trainer concept want job-focused training. So far so good, but, more to the point, they want training directly focused on what they do in English in their jobs. OK, still nothing really new here. But, what did they really want?
What managers want with their English training
Universally, what they wanted was:
- focus only on the skills that they actually use for their jobs
- integration of their own documents, emails and presentations in the training material
- activities that reflected what they actually had to do in the workplace
- training to do what they do on the job better, not simply training to improve their knowledge
Without consciously thinking about it, the participants and clients (managers) were highlighting the importance of relevance on transferability. This is a core concept in the InCorporate training model. The training should reflect what the trainer sees on a daily basis. The ideas for the training should come from the on-the-job support that the trainer does on a daily basis. The role-plays and activities should be as close as possible to the real meetings, presentations and phone calls going on in the office.
By creating and running this sort of training, the learner can more easily apply the learning. Sure, if you watch a lot of English movies, eventually your vocabulary will improve. But, taking that learning and applying it to improve your negotiations at work is another matter.
The training really needs to reflect not just the real world, but it needs to reflect the learner’s real world. The literature and research supports this concept – “relevance aids transferability”. But, it sure is nice to hear that the participants and managers instinctively know this too.