Towards the end of 2013, I had the very great pleasure of co-presenting with Justine Arena at the IATEFL BESIG Annual Conference in Prague. Our topic was a project we had collaborated on, together with Barry Tomalin, who provided support with materials development.
The idea was to test with Justine’s clients in Brazil a new approach to business English that involved a three-way blend of
- moderated asynchronous online study
- weekly live virtual lessons
- fortnightly face-to-face lessons.
We used a virtual learning environment integrated with a web-conferencing tool for the first two elements in this click and brick approach, and a conventional, or perhaps not quite so conventional (see videos), classroom for the third. Barry provided input with materials for the asynchronous component, which was delivered in weekly modules with tasks that were structured along these lines:
- Business communication
- Check the Grammar!
- Business reading
The learners were offered between two to three hours of guided and closely moderated task-based self-study that also involved interaction with other participants and the course moderator – in this case, me. And what a pleasure it was to work with Brazilian learners who were so open to new ways of learning!
We called our talk a glocal blend because the training combines the local knowledge and expertise that Justine brings to bear with the input from an experienced international trainer such as Barry Tomalin and contact with a native speaker trainer (me) that modern web technologies make possible. In the talk, we eschewed technical details, but rather emphasized the important role socialization and personalization played in the successful design and delivery of the training.
This approach has been well received and I was asked by the British Council to provide information on the project for a new module on web conferencing that is being added to their online Learning technologies for the classroom teacher training course. The video that was produced for this course focuses on the live virtual lessons, but it does give an overall idea of how the glocal approach was delivered and might be of some interest to those thinking about moving in this direction. It would have been interesting to have included Justine’s thoughts on the project in the video, but unfortunately, time constraints meant that this wasn’t possible.
After the success of the pilot project, Justine and I are now developing ways of making this model of training available to other learners, either directly though our networks in Brazil and Europe, or through license agreements with language schools. If you’re interested in learning more, please contact us.