February 26, 2013 14:00 ET

goFLUENT Publishes Research on the Evolution of Blended Learning Towards Integrated Learning

NEW YORK, NEW YORK--(Marketwire - Feb. 26, 2013) - goFLUENT, a leading provider of Business English training which works with many of the Fortune 500 companies around the world has commissioned - and now published as a whitepaper - research into the key trends and best practices of blended language learning (BLL).

"Today, the rise of Blended Learning is arguably the key trend in the field of language learning. As goFLUENT is one of the major providers of BLL, we felt that we should share the findings of a recognised independent expert, Andrew Wickham, with all those interested in this approach," says Christophe Ferrandou, Chief Executive Officer of goFLUENT.

The research was carried out by Andrew Wickham, author of a study of the French Language Training Market entitled, "The Language Training Market in the Era of Globalisation". Andrew is a language training professional with over 30 years' experience in the business. The whitepaper addresses the following questions:

  • What is blended language learning?

  • What are its benefits compared to traditional approaches?

  • How integrated are the BLL offers currently available?

  • What is the trainer's role in BLL?

  • What approaches and tools are required to better integrate blended learning systems?

  • Can large blended learning programmes be customised to individual learners' needs?

  • What are the conditions required for an integrated BLL system to be successful?

This paper, which is based on Linguaid's findings in 2009, 2010 and 2012, highlights the key challenges in BLL today: integration, democratisation, and individualisation. According to corporate training managers, the factor that has had the greatest impact on their language training systems is individualisation. With training platforms in large corporations becoming increasingly centralised and delivering standardized, off-the-shelf programs, the challenge is thus to find the right balance between individualisation and industrialisation.

Andrew Wickham points out that, "Trainers today need to adapt their courses to the operational needs, professions, and specific constraints of individual learners. The latest web 2.0 platforms and tools allow trainers to respond to this need by giving them access to online content and by allowing them to customise their programmes and even create their own resources. But trainers need to be fully qualified and to master the tools, and they need to allocate time to follow up their learner's online work."

"Blended learning has many advantages compared to more traditional approaches." According to Andrew Wickham, "The wealth and variety of a BLL programme is better suited to the way people learn languages naturally. The interactivity of the resources available is more motivating for learners and can enhance learning effectiveness."

Yet blended learning presents a real challenge because of its complexity. "Standardised, one-size-fits-all programmes cannot cater to the needs of today's learners, while ad-hoc programmes in which resources and modalities (face to face training, telephone, e-learning...) are simply bundled together confuse learners and deliver uncertain results. An approach combining interlocking and associated resources is thus required," Andrew Wickham believes.

"When a learner only has occasional exposure to a language and is not exposed to an immersive environment, effective learning requires a structured approach, with interlocking resources and modalities focused on the core programme," he writes, noting that learning can't be limited to this controlled activity only, as learners need to develop their learning autonomy.

"It's equally important that they explore the language freely and are exposed to immersive sequences. That's why an effective blended learning course should include associated modalities and resources that are less tightly linked to the core programme.

"The success of a blended learning programme will depend in part on how well-integrated these two approaches are within the learning path," he adds.

The whitepaper concludes that when it is seamlessly integrated, supported by a sophisticated management tool (LMS), and professionally implemented by qualified teachers and administrators, the BLL approach is well suited to corporations' current needs because it offers greater flexibility, provides effective monitoring of learners, reduces training costs, and can be customised by selecting appropriate resources according to each learner's individual profile.

Effective evaluation of training results is another key challenge for blended language learning. In the coming years, Andrew Wickham considers that "enhanced evaluation systems will emerge that can effectively measure the operational results and performance of learners following multi-modal courses and not just their passive knowledge of language."

"However, we must be aware of the dangers of excessive gadgetisation that have plagued the language training industry in the past," he concludes. "The real challenge for providers and clients today is to harness the potential of these new technologies to create integrated, sustainable training systems in which technology enhances, rather than detracts from, the key role of the trainer and the effectiveness of language learning." The model of the future will thus be "trainer-led, learner centred integrated learning".

Copies of the whitepaper are available from http://www.gofluent.com/web/us/white-papers.

About goFLUENT (www.gofluent.com)

goFLUENT offers distance English training combining eLearning, telephone lessons and written practice solutions. Each year, goFLUENT assists more than 100,000 employees in over 2,000 companies across the world to enable them to perform better in their international relations. goFLUENT is present in ten countries and has 560 employees - of which 400 are trainers. NTT Communications (NTT Group) holds 30% of shares in the company.

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