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British Council Conference for Teachers: 3 trends to take away.

Wednesday April 10th was the 3rd edition of the annual British Council Conference for Teachers. This is always a good opportunity to get up to speed with new developments in training and think about what we do at The Square Mile and how we do it.

Trend 1: Demand for Cambridge English exams is up.

This is a growing market in the Netherlands for all ages, but in particular secondary schools. Many of our Square Mile English trainers are also Cambridge examiners and it was good to discuss the value of the Business English exams with them. Conclusion: great if your learning objectives are broad business based, less applicable if you want to improve your English for a specific purpose like most of our clients.

Trend 2: Business English training is becoming more role specific.

I attended a session on teaching business English and as with our frequent lesson observations, it is always interesting to see a good trainer at work (thanks to Caroline Pickard). It was good to be reminded that we do what we do well – tailor-made lessons focussed on what the participant needs in order to operate professionally and confidently at work.

Trend 3: Gamification of learning is hot, but the ROI is inconclusive.

I followed a mainly informative and partly interactive session achieved through the use of menti.com, a Kahoot-style website which allows individuals in a group to record their opinion on a topic. The added dimension to menti.com is that it translates the users’ input into a word cloud. In addition we reviewed the types of immersive gaming there are, most notably

  • Role Play Games, in particular MMORPGs – Massive Multi-Player Role Play Games – often with a ‘fantasy’ element (examples: World of Warcraft, Fortnite & Second Life)
  • “Sandbox games – a style of game with few rules – the player is free to act within the environment (examples: Grand Theft Auto & Assassin’s Creed)
  • Simulation games – games simulating real world activities (example: The Sims).

Immersive gaming can provide a new dimension in education, particularly for students with learning challenges such as ADHD. It could also be applied in a more traditional classroom setting. However, the development costs are very high and thus the end product has to appeal to a large audience, exactly the opposite to what our clients want: tailored courses. What was interesting is that we already use many of the building blocks of gaming but in the “offline” or dare I say it, real world of tailored language training.

For any questions or more information, please feel free to contact me at michelle@thesquaremile.nl

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