For millennials perusing the job market, being given the opportunity to learn languages has serious stature in 2019. In an age when monolingualism puts employees at a disadvantage, companies are encouraged to provide digital and online language learning courses to attract, retain and develop millennial talent. Millennials are reshaping the world of corporate training and L&D and HR professionals are tasked with producing innovative training programs that satisfy their hunger to learn.
Transformation of language learning
Foreign languages are often overlooked as a soft skill despite languages being the one skill that gains immediate recognition when working internationally.
Is your company catering for millennial assignees who are eager to develop their language skills? And if your organization is already investing in language training, is it being rendered attractive for modern learners?
With language Apps Memrise, Babbel and Duolingo claiming 120 million users, learning languages has become a convenient commodity.
A transformative communication model which encourages collaborative learning between trainer and learner is ideal for online language learning. This learning model emphasizes the trainer’s willingness to learn from students while helping to establish expectations and clear assessment tools.
These present-day approaches are representative of how ambitious millennials are to learn and need to be an integral part of any corporate language strategy.
Here are just a few reasons why millennials prefer online language learning:
1. Digital natives
Millennials are products of a communication generation and digital channels are the preferred form of communication among many millennials. The growth of digital tools has changed the way our brains work.
Digital natives simply don’t learn in the same way people did forty or twenty years ago.
Techniques that worked for employee training or language teaching in the past are unlikely to be as successful for today’s Modern Learners. This may mean a form of blended learning or flipped classroom learning is better suited to younger employees.
According to the HBR, millennials were the first to experience a digital, wireless and connected world and “expect the technologies that empower their personal lives to also drive communication and innovation in the workplace.”
Technology has given people 24/7 access to information and Modern Learners possess a globally universal attitude towards learning.
The face-to-face classroom is no longer the norm amongst large global organizations. HR and L&D professionals are adopting self-paced learning material accessed from a portal with online discussion groups that support business sectors and user-based videos.
As well as this content, most portals also include learning communities that provide practical information and support. This is ideal for millennials who are not apprehensive about remote methods of learning. And if video learning is incorporated in the package, they are even more likely to participate.
For L&D professionals, leveraging online training solves the problem of making sure a corporate language strategy is in place globally.
It provides a portable, consistent learning experience for every employee and ensures that everyone receives crucial information in the same way, regardless of who is conducting the training. At the same time, this provides a framework for operating and maintaining a Quality Management system throughout the organization.
3. Convenience – time and place not a concern
Millennials in particular relish convenience and practicability – learning online offers millennial users flexibility and manifold options.
The challenge for many companies at the moment is offering employees more flexible contracts where working from home is an option whilst still supporting their training needs.
And furthermore, today’s meeting-centric organizational culture has left trainers in a quandary — how can L&D ensure that everyone receives the appropriate training when there’s apparently never a moment when an entire team or indeed an entire division has open timeslots on their calendars?
With online training, learners are not tied to a time or place and the flipped classroom approach is growing in popularity for this reason. Many millennials are already familiar with this approach from their schooling and higher education.
With instructional videos and interactive lessons, traditionally classroom-based instruction is now accessed at home, in advance of the online session. Furthermore, group sessions become the place to work through problems, railroad concepts, and engage in collaborative learning.
Most importantly, all aspects of training can be rethought to best maximize the scarcest learning resource of time. Any face-to-face training can be maximized and results are astounding as millennials see a clear purpose to investing time in learning.
Gamification of learning makes learning fun and interactive for millennials who have grown up with gaming being an ingrained part of their lives.
Many millennial learners embrace gamified language learning as they are open to more creative training opportunities that accommodate their digital preferences.
Gamification enhances the learner experiences whilst helping employees to work towards real-time, measurable, meaningful targets. A good gamification strategy with high levels of engagement will lead to an increase in recollection and retention.
Good gamification also gives learners ownership of their learning, learning becomes visible and learners have the freedom to fail and try again without negative consequences.
5. Work-life balance
It’s also key to note that millennials expect a greater work-life balance than many members of previous generations. This often manifests as an expectation that their needs be met in a flexible way that works for them.
Learning languages online enables them to work at their own pace in a certain time span and integrate it into their commute, business travel or lunch break.
Microlearning deals with relatively small learning units and short-term learning activities. It’s impact on learning for kinaesthetic learners is immense.
Online language learning also takes into account different learning speeds and styles which is often an issue in archetypal classroom settings where a one-size-fits-all policy is the norm.
Learning small portions of information and using them straight away, otherwise known as microlearning is also popular amongst Modern Learners. It is very effective and a much more manageable approach to e-learning for the millennial brain.
Reaping the rewards of blended language learning
Finding new solutions for a mobile workforce is high on the agenda of every HR and L&D professional and blended language learning seems to be the way forward. Face-to-face training still has its place in the language training arena, but experience shows it is not always sustainable in the long-term. A flipped classroom scenario featuring video content and other online materials will encourage millennials to learn more languages and utilize their time effectively.
In addition, companies find online learning a potent force for increasing the ROI of language training. Today’s L&D professionals already understand the potential of online language learning for millennials. It’s time to offer gamification and other eye-catching alternatives to classroom training so that your innovative approach to language learning gives your organization a competitive edge.