In the popular musical, ‘My Fair Lady’, the phonetics teacher, Professor Higgins, laments, ‘Why can’t the English teach their children how to speak?’ Were he a real character and alive today, Professor Higgins would probably be lamenting even louder that this trend has not only continued but has taken on an international context. Apparently, these days, British e-learning providers aren’t even the best at teaching people to speak English.
In a competition which included e-learning materials from the BBC, the British Council, and the (admittedly American) Wall Street Institute, the winner was goFLUENT. To be fair, goFLUENT is an experienced and leading provider of distance English training, but it is based in Switzerland and has offices in Paris, among other places, but not London.
The French website, ‘Pour Se Former’, analysed ten online English language materials providers recently and said of goFLUENT that: ‘In our opinion, this is one of the best offers on the web. The videos and the audio resources are focused on the company sector and current economic environment. Learners also greatly benefit from Harvard Business Review articles that deal with management research, especially those with an intermediate level. Learner level is taken into account for each exercise, and all resources require the learners’ full attention, but some of the Harvard Business Review articles might be a bit long for some individuals. Also useful are opportunities to practise for job interviews and meetings by listening to examples and doing exercises.’
Describing goFLUENT’s approach, this independent study went on to say: ‘After taking a test to determine her/his level, the learner can work on many educational resources that are related to the business world. Videos provided by AFP and the New York Times provide a significant foundation of goFLUENT’s online learning. Articles are shown with difficult words highlighted and, as the learner scrolls over them, the definition appears. Afterwards, there are exercises and quizzes that test the learner’s comprehension. These consist of open questions (not multiple-choice) where the learner must come up with the right answer. There are also spaces where the learner must write a phrase that is heard in a video. Grammar exercises that are related to words used in the video are also available. Participants can also listen to articles from the Harvard Business Review while the text scrolls on the screen. As is done with the videos, the articles are also accompanied by exercises and a vocabulary list.’
To access the full study, visit:
Comment: So, it’s happened again. We give the world organised sports – such as association football, rugby (union and league), tennis and cricket – and other nations learn to play them better than we do.
We give the world a language not only rich in poetic application but also meaningful in technological terms and it becomes the accepted international language of business. Then we can’t even be best at teaching it to others. Once again, that accolade moves overseas.
‘C’est la vie!’ As they say in France.