Belgacom speaks the language of the client
“Helping the students to overcome their initial fear of speaking the language is a key factor for success in foreign language learning”- Katja Van Lierde, training manager at Belgacom
At BCU (Belgacom Corporate University), the company’s employees have the opportunity to follow language courses that enhance their ability to communicate with both external clients and colleagues alike. Lerian –Nti is one of the language schools with whom BCU works in close cooperation. In her position as training manager Katja Van Lierde is the BCU’s contact.
The partnership with Lerian-NTI
Together with Lerian we organize group and individual language courses as well as tailor- made training. The group modules in Dutch, French and English are available for those who wish to learn a new language and those who would like to improve their already existing language skills. The courses are accessible for all prospective candidates whose language knowledge ranges between levels 0 and 3.00. Each group consists of not more than 11 candidates. The lessons, once a week and with duration of 3 hours, take place on our premises at Evere and continue for 3 full months. Individual courses are designed to satisfy special request. In their turn, the tailor- made modules are meant for the members of a specific team who have the need to increase their knowledge of particular vocabulary’, Katja explains.
Screening is a ‘must’
Belgacom employees can enroll for the language courses directly: using our special training catalogue on line. However, the first thing that every candidate must do is the electronic language test. The aim of the test is to help create homogeneous groups and select the right study material. Often the candidates’ language level is tested over the phone by Lerian-NTI specialists. In this way the level of both the active and passive knowledge of the perspective candidates is correctly established’, Katja continues.
Combining face-to-face training with e-learning
The candidates with level 2 or higher are offered a combination of a classical face-to-face training and e-learning. That is to say, the candidates have an access to the electronic study platform of Lerian-NTI. The platform contains grammar and vocabulary exercises that correspond to the candidates’ different levels. This means that the face-to-face lessons can be highly interactive and place the emphasis on speaking practice.’
Technicians in the classroom
Could you give an example of a language training that aimed at the particular needs of a specific target group?
Katja: ‘In this respect a good example is the training that Lerian-NTI designed and provided for our Brussels-based technicians. Both, the lessons’ contents and additional didactic material were tailor- made and targeted the distinct language requirements of the group. The special CD-ROM and ‘job aid’ that the candidates received during the lessons served as an extra study aid. The CD-ROM allowed the technicians to further exercise most of the key sentences needed before visiting a client. This extra study aid significantly lowered the threshold of communicating in the new language and made the transition between theoretical knowledge and practical use of the language easy and rather unproblematic. These are all qualities that make any language training highly valuable for the candidates.’
Keeping a close eye
At any stage of the training process Katja can discuss the pedagogical and didactic contents of the courses with the heads of Lerian’s language departments. When it comes to the practical organization of the lessons the right contact person is the Lerian-NTI coordinator Cindy. ‘I have daily email or telephone contact with Cindy. We exchange information about new and ongoing projects. She monitors everything meticulously!’ laughs Katja. The monitoring of the training process is a shared responsibility. ‘Lerian-NTI’s platform allows us to follow the candidates’ attendance path. After each course the Lerian teachers provide detailed personalized evaluation reports that inform us about the candidates’ progress and recommend future pedagogical action. At the end of every module we test the candidates’ opinion about the course’s contents and educational methods by using our own evaluation forms as well,’ says Katja.
Constantly thinking about how to increase the learning efficiency of the training offered and how to keep positively re-inventing oneself both pedagogically and technically are the two most important characteristics of every education professional, Katja believes. ‘The creation of specific study material that can be used during tailor-made courses is a big advantage as this allows to effectively adjust the lessons’ contents to the candidates’ real needs. Lerian-NTI is also active in the field of distance learning: individual or group lessons given with the help of a webcam could be an excellent solution for the needs of business professionals who have to keep on the move. The distance learning guarantees both flexibility and continuity of the study process. So, it is more than clear: education professionals should keep up to date with the latest developments in the field.’