Microlearning means taking bite-sized information and/or studying a subject for a short time then using this new information as soon as possible. This approach is the most useful in the area of corporate and business employee training. Companies have long been using this strategy to train existing and new employees quickly. Recently however it’s been used extensively by online/distant learners and since the pandemic, even schools and individual learners have discovered it and it’s getting very popular among language learners, teachers, and online schools.
This method has many advantages and shortcomings as well. While you can acquire new information quickly and in a fun environment (especially when it’s combined with gamification technology) the retention of this new information is more difficult than in a traditional learning scenario. Most language apps (Duolingo and others) are based on this approach and they’re very useful in teaching vocabulary and expressions in small chunks in a fun way. The problem is that most individual learners won’t start to use these words and expressions right away and though they enjoy the learning process, the retrieval of that knowledge is limited. In other words, they enjoy getting points and finishing levels but their acquired knowledge is not always convertible to everyday situations where they should actively use the language. It requires discipline and an understanding of the functions of these apps for one to fully get the benefits of using such apps.
Microlearning therefore should be a side strategy, not the only strategy we use to learn a language. It should accompany other learning methods unless our aim is only to get to a certain level very fast and use our knowledge immediately. Language apps should be used together with other learning aids such as courses, books, videos, podcasts, private tutoring, and so forth.
Other microlearning strategies such as flashcards and online educational games are also very useful to learn and practice a new language but they also shouldn’t be the only forms of study. The more ways one practices a new language the better the chances of being able to actively use it later on.
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.
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.
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