In-company vs online language training: the results are in!
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In-company vs online language training: the results are in!

Is online language training via Zoom, Teams or Webex as good as in-company training? The answer is YES. In March this year we moved all our participants from in-company training to online training through web platforms and we are so pleased with the results that we’d like to share them! One client in particular has provided us with important insights as they started online courses (Zoom) for 108 participants from the first week of lockdown. Most of the participants had previously followed training with us in-company, providing us with comparative insight on training via Zoom vs in-company. The results below are based on 17 group courses of 4-8 participants learning Dutch from A0 (beginner) to B1 level. Typically, the courses combined 30 hours of direct trainer-group interaction through Zoom spread across weekly lessons of 2 hours, with additional online and offline study assignments between the lessons.

Online training works.

Based on 73 responses we can clearly conclude that the vast majority of participants (95%) was pleased with the training received. Comments included, ” Loved the way how the course was delivered and personal attention in general.”, “Trainer was very quick to adopt to the new normal of training” and “I liked the way that in spite of the necessity to have the course remotely via Zoom, the trainer found creative ways of creating engagement within the team and maintain the effectiveness of the lessons.”

Can you give us your answer on the below aspects of your course? Agree Disagree N/A
I am happy with the overall progress I made during this course 95% 3% 3%

Our trainers have adapted their training approach quickly to the new online environment

Using feedback from the same courses again, we can conclude that participants felt the training met their needs, was interactive, well-structured and pitched to their learning objectives and levels. Given that our account team and the trainers were facing intense challenges to move more than 750 participants from in-company to online, this is an achievement we are proud of. 

Can you give us your answer on the below aspects of your course? Agree Disagree N/A
The course structure and topics covered during each lesson were clear and relevant to me 100% 0% 0%
The course materials (e.g. book, handouts etc.) matched the course objectives. 93% 4% 3%
The level of the course was just right for me. 93% 3% 4%
There was a good variation in exercises to help me learn effectively. 97% 1% 1%
The trainer listened and acted on my/our needs during the lessons 96% 3% 1%
I was given plenty of opportunity to practice relevant situations during the lessons 90% 4% 5%
The trainer reviewed previously covered areas sufficiently during each lesson 97% 0% 3%

Online training (through Zoom) worked well from a practical perspective

Trainers and participants got used to working online quickly. Attendance levels actually went up as even participants who’d returned to their family abroad (New Zealand, Brazil, Indonesia and North America) were able to join the lessons, despite some early teething troubles. We can now confidently say that the online solution offers a practical way of delivering training in the current environment. 

We are particularly interested in learning from your online experience. Can you give us your feedback on the online aspects of your course? Agree Disagree N/A
The online platform worked well from a technical point of view, e.g. connection was stable, good sound quality etc. 88% 4% 8%
The online platform was easy to use (e.g. break-out rooms, chat function, share screen options etc.) 88% 5% 7%
The trainer had sufficient knowledge of the platform 92% 4% 4%
The trainer used the platform in an effective way 96% 1% 3%

The preference for online lessons vs in-company appears to be a matter of taste.

The majority of participants had experienced both online and in-company training from The Square Mile. Reviewing their feedback, 95% of participants were satisfied with the progress made, of which 48% felt that online lessons were just as effective as in-company lessons, whilst 36% felt in-company was still more effective. Advantages of online were flexibility, less downtime and travel time. The main disadvantage was the lack of real “live” contact.. Given the context of 95% satisfaction, we conclude online lessons via Zoom or a similar platform more than adequately meet the learning needs of both participants and client. When given the choice, some participants and most trainers still prefer in-company lessons, mainly due to the live interaction. Given the ongoing uncertainty regarding Covid-19, we are confident that delivering online guarantees both the quality of our service and training continuity. We will of course continue to deliver in-company where clients prefer, subject to our Covid-19 protocol and will continue to develop hybrid courses, combining both in-company and online sessions.

What else have we learned?

Participants place enormous value on contact with their colleagues. Working from home limits personal contact on the work floor and language training offers participants the opportunity to meet their fellow workers in a relaxed and informal environment to practice language skills. Online training also allows us to increase lesson frequency (slightly shorter lessons, with shorter intervals) which stimulates concentration and retention, encouraging more frequent use of the target language.

Training online requires a different approach from our trainers, but it’s a skills set they already have. Trainers told us they had to go “back to basics” and revisit what they want to achieve. They quickly realised which approaches work best online. Both lesson planning and structure are key, as is the continued support from our pedagogical team via lesson observations and peer feedback. The range of online resources is extensive and with some degree of creativity in the way we use it (tailored to the client) it can more than offset the loss of personal contact from in-company lessons.

No two courses are the same. Not everyone has access to a good internet connection and many people are still juggling work and childcare at home. So for some participants it is simply more practical to train at their place of work. We therefore ensure we collect as much relevant information as possible during the intake phase to meet the needs of our participants and clients in an effective and safe fashion. At the end of the day, it’s what works for you that counts.

Are you looking to improve your language skills?

Give Irene or Richard a call on 071 532 3356 to find out more about in-company, online and hybrid combinations and work out what will work best for you, or contact us online or through