Over the past couple of years my approach to teaching specialist courses, for example email English, has changed dramatically and I get much better results for clients since I graduated as a Personal Performance Coach with The Coaching Academy in London, UK.
Now I blend coaching with teaching methodology that enables me to focus on getting the best for my clients. I find that short, specialist courses are ideal for this mixed approach.
For example, I have just come to the end of a 6 week course in email English that I delivered to 4 groups of non-native speakers of English working for an American investment bank in Turin, Italy. Their English language levels range from B1 to C1 (which translates as Intermediate and Advanced to those perhaps unfamiliar with the Common European Framework for of Reference (CEFR) for Languages).
One of the biggest advantages for this kind of business communication course, like email English, is that blending coaching techniques with teaching methodology means that each participant gets the opportunity to practise what is most relevant for their own work and this is immediately transferable from the classroom to the office.
Significantly, incorporating coaching strategies into teaching methodology allows me as the trainer to ask the kinds of questions that give each participant the chance to think deeply and with a high level of focus on what really matters to them as individuals in the workplace. So, even while working as a group they are consistently encouraged to relate what they are doing back to their own individual experience. In short, it enables me to offer a personalised approach while ironically teaching a group.
This new skill and approach in the training room has had a hugely positive impact on student success and has had the added benefit of giving me, the trainer, a new level of enthusiasm and passion for teaching and training.
What is the impact of this kind of training?
For me, the 6 key things that come across to me with short blended training courses that combine teaching methods and coaching strategies are that you can:
- Get faster results than you would if you focused on teaching strategies alone
- Achieve high levels of student involvement from the outset
- Create focused sessions that allow a deep focus on each individual despite being in a group
- Make participants experience their own needs being met in real time
- Create satisfied customers who see the direct benefit of their training
- Better value for money for the company/organisation
The key ingredients are to be highly skilled in:
Without training in teacher pedagogy, a trainer lacks the ability to adapt the session to suit the participants’ rhythm, mood and needs. To put it bluntly, the training course risks being a complete flop.
Without a qualification in coaching, the trainer lacks the deep listening skills and empathy that free the trainer to really hear what the participants are saying and the confidence to allow the session to meet participants’ requirements. Without coaching qualifications you cannot call yourself a coach!
Without this the trainer is not able to tap into the participants’ ways of thinking and ways of processing activities and instructions. They will put too much of their own cultural patterning onto the training session which leads to participants feeling that they are not being understood, less feelings of involvement in the session and in the worst case can lead to conflict and negative feedback. Teachers with experience working in international environments have huge advantages over those that don’t. No question!
Experience in all of the above!
Delivery of this type of training requires a highly skilled teacher and coach with a significant amount of experience. Without this the sessions risk being overly scripted, standardised and stilted. Arguably a standardised approach is effective in that it allows the email English box to be ticked by your line manager but this approach does not take into account individual needs, leads to participants feeling they have not really learnt that much, means that most participants are reviewing old material rather than learning and practising new stuff and doesn’t challenging them at all. In short it is largely a waste of money.