One of the big problems with studying English, especially for professionals, is the amount of time it takes. Not just the study itself, but the logistics of actually getting to the school. The journey time can easily double the amount of time spent in the classroom.
But what if the language school came to you?
Online learning is experiencing rapid growth, thanks to the rapid expansion of high-speed internet access and VOIP programmes like skype. Schools like Navitas, Kaplan and Berlitz are aggressively marketing their online solutions – see Language Travel Magazine for an article on this . Not that you need to be the size of Kaplan to go into online tuition – by any simply using VOIP – even, yes, skype – and an LMS like English360 or Macmillan English Campus, it’s relatively straightforward to set up an online teaching operation.
It’s in the professional and corporate arena that online learning can help make immeasurable time and cost savings. All you need to make the learning experience complete is to replicate the professional environment, whether it’s a boardroom or – in the case of the latest venture from Languagelab – the cockpit of an airliner.
Languagelab is fast become adept in building very realistic 3D environments which can be populated by teachers and students – or rather, by their virtual selves. This adds a very interesting dimension (literally) to corporate training, and paves the way for other realistic environments in which to safely learn English. An amazing virtual hospital and an oil rig have already been built for workers in the oil/gas and medical professions.
Of course online courses need real teachers. As professional schools like Languagelab begin to expand and proliferate, the demand will grow for teachers who have the skills to work in an exclusively online environment – a different challenge to working face to face.