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Language education has always been a flourishing business. Language oriented technologies and pedagogical sciences never stand still. In Belgium, Lerian-Nti is the driving force behind the latest cutting edge developments in the field of language training. Learn Dutch, French, English and German online; it is now possible. Make use of the virtual classroom that redefines language education.
A worthy alternative to the traditional teaching of professional jargon
The way we see it, our virtual classroom combines the advantages of both distance learning and face-to-face language training. Highly experienced language teachers supervise small study groups that consist of maximum 3 students. The reduced number of participants guarantees interactivity and an extended and sufficient ‘speaking time’ for each student. The teaching is based on especially developed language materials that reflect the specific professional terminology (professional jargon) of a wide variety of business and production fields. In general, the online learning is co-created, monitored and constantly improved and adjusted by our language instructors.
The learning process continues outside the virtual classroom as well. While using Lerian’s e-learning platform the students have the opportunity to continue practising the language at their own pace and without any interference from the teacher. The individual progress and efforts of each student can be followed online.
For Karel Geerts, who has been a Dutch language teacher at Lerian for more than 20 years, the online courses given in a virtual classroom represent the next step in e-learning and the use of Internet for pedagogical purposes. "Online learning is both stimulating and inspiring! It is a form of learning with a lot of potential. Overall, the distance learning is perfect for the demands of the ‘open office’ culture that so many companies have already embraced. The lessons can take place anywhere: you just install your laptop and you are ready to go. This flexibility is what characterises the very core of distance learning. Personally, I think that this method enriches the teacher’s profession as such. Distance learning brings many new opportunities and technical tools. Nowadays, the language trainer is more like an orchestra conductor: you must know what to use and when to use it. One should coordinate the Internet related activities with the traditional learning tools. This takes time and experience. At Lerian we are prepared for the new challenges and ready to prove the virtual lessons even more productive than their traditional counterparts’. "Is it logical to assume that after the virtual classroom it will be the turn of the virtual trainer who can replace the actual teacher?” Karel laughs. ‘The online training is not better than the traditional face-to-face teaching: it is just that in some cases it is much more efficient. Actual live teaching will always remain extremely valuable. I am not worried.’
Another important argument in favour of online courses is the fact that one does not have to move all the time. So, one does not lose valuable time travelling. Also, an online lesson is much easier to plan and fit within any busy work schedule. According to Karel Geerts: "There is also a greater flexibility involved: you follow or teach online lessons whenever the schedule demands it. Any place is convenient, at home, at the office or even on a location abroad. As long as one has an access to Internet, the lesson takes place. A good Internet connection, a webcam, a headset and you're off."
As far as the technical equipment is concerned, there are not so many limitations. How about the human psychological threshold then? Do you need to be a geek in order to follow and enjoy online learning? You should stay open minded, that's for sure and not only as a student, but also as a trainer. It takes getting used to it, but one does not need to be highly IT or computer skilled either.