What do teaching and marketing have in common?

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The short answer is: a lot!

The long answer is that they have more in common that most would think. However while teaching is viewed as a mostly altruistic act, marketing has a bad name for being pushy and forcing products on people. The reality is that both teaching and marketing want to achieve the same result. A teacher wants the student to accept (learn) an idea or piece of fact while marketers want the customer to accept (buy) a product or service. Marketing is most often associated with spending money while teaching is considered an act to help the student acquire knowledge.

Teachers rarely (consciously) use marketing tactics to accommodate learning while many marketers have realized the power of providing information while also accommodate the selling of products. Infomercials are perfect examples of that.:

An infomercial is a form of television commercial that resembles regular TV programming[1] yet is intended to promote or sell a product, service or idea……Most often used as a form of direct response television (DRTV),……[4][5] Infomercials are also known as paid programming (or teleshopping[6] in Europe).….

While the term “infomercial” was originally applied only to television advertising, it is now sometimes used to refer to any presentation (often on video) which presents a significant amount of information in an actual, or perceived, attempt to promote a point of view. …” /From Wikipedia/

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Teachers could also benefit from thinking more along the lines of marketing if they want to successfully convey knowledge. Some practises that could help are:

  • Relating to the usability of the knowledge/How this knowledge can be used later on.
  • Nice packaging (relatable text, nice graphics, gamification, etc.)
  • Give points and rewards.
  • Make it accessible for a wider audience.
  • Use thought leaders and role models.

These are just a few tips on how to think more as a marketer to achieve higher results.

Digital whiteboard versus traditional whiteboard

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Schools are in a race to keep up with the digital age. One visible change we see is the move from traditional whiteboards to digital whiteboards. This move is somewhat inevitable but it’s not an easy one. Teachers’ and students’ opinions vary greatly on whether they like to use it or not. One criticism that is often cited is that they just function as giant computer screens, acting as projectors more than a space to use for an explanation.

While this might be partially true, the added functions aim to give more freedom to the way information is presented. The focus, therefore, is more on the presentation aspect than on the explanation aspect. It can help present information rather than just providing a space to write down information. Before the pandemic, this wasn’t considered to be a big difference but it is now. One of the many problems that teachers faced in the online space was that it was hard for many to keep track of how and when information was presented. They were used to the frontal approach when the teacher stands in from of the whiteboard and writes down whatever needs to be explained and the students interact verbally or go to the board and write on it and/or write down information in their notebooks. This limited interactivity is challenged in the digital space.

On one hand, interactivity is immediate and can come in many different forms but on the other hand, it is harder to keep track of it. Students were complaining during the pandemic that it was hard for them to know what exactly was required from them to do and what assignments were due when, and for which subject.

The main problem with digitalization is that information needs to be structured, stored, and presented differently otherwise it becomes scattered and hard to keep track of. This is true for online classes as well as for the digitalization of the classroom. Teachers and students need to adapt to the new way of acquiring information: from one source but in different forms rather than from many different forms.

Here are the main advantages and disadvantages of the whiteboard and the digital whiteboard:

whiteboard:

  • frontal teaching
  • written information
  • easy to use
  • only written information or very limited image use
  • little interactivity

digital whiteboard:

  • different types of information presented in many different ways
  • more interactivity
  • learning curve
  • harder to structure

Online whiteboards are also in the mix and can be used together with screen sharing, mind mapping apps, and other online tools during live online classes. They can be used to replicate the feeling and flexibility of using a real whiteboard.

Why german is losing its appeal as a language for condacting business

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German is rapidly losing its appeal as a language for condacting business. This change hasn’t happened overnight but it has slowly become more prevalent in recent times. With digitalization and globalization came the need for a more unified approach to business communication as well and English being the most widespread it has slowly started to overtake all other languages in management and in business in general. While German still manages to be a popular choice in Europe, in all other areas of the world its place is rapidly falls behind other more widespread languages such as Spanish.

This change has the most impact in areas such as engineering, business management and consulting. The main reasons for this change are of course digitalization (only a smaller portion of the internet and websites are in fact written in German or using German as their primary language), the widespread usage of English as a ‘mediator’ or ‘Lingua Franca’ language and the fact that more people of other countries are coming to these fields and doing business either in their own mother tongue or in English.

This change created the situation for a number of freelancers and language schools that were focusing on German as their primary language of lecture to offer more classes in other languages or to try and focus entirely on other types of language students such as expats.

Problems with dyslexia and other learning disabilities in language learning

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Whether you’re employed by a school or work as a freelancer, sooner or later you’ll have students who struggle with learning disabilities, such as (mild) dyslexia. The problem is that often students can get by in their native language just fine until they start learning a new language. This is most common with adult learners but can happen with children too if they have only a mild disability which is for one reason or another is not addressed properly. Language learning strips away their coping mechanism that works great when using their native language. Such coping mechanisms are guessing the words in reading instead of actually reading it and trying to guess the spelling of a word even after they learnt how to use it. Obviously, these practices create problems in reading a text in a foreign language or learning vocabulary. Often these practices are mistaken as laziness and the unwillingness to learn proper vocabulary or blamed on a short attention span.

For teachers, it’s crucial to find out what really causes the students to fail vocabulary tests or why they’re struggling to properly read a test that is presented to them. If an otherwise bright and talented student hears that he/she is just lazy or is not putting enough effort into learning when it’s clearly not the case, it can result in him/her avoiding the subject later on which happens often and especially with the case of language learning. The feeling of failure early on can discourage them to try learning a new language later in life unless they’re forced to learn one for whatever reason.