Competency-Based Training in ESL
It's a new concept I'm trying out now that I'm back in Germany and back in the training room - applying CBT principles to ESL training.
A new client asked me the other day - "but what does it mean, to have competency-based training [kompetenzbasierte Kurse], what's the difference from other language training?"
What it means is that in addition to focusing on language acquisition the new CBT-ESL courses will focus on the practical application of the language in the business environment, adapting competencies comprehensively outlined in the Australian VET system to German businesses. Clients will walk away from every training session with skills they can immediately apply to their work, thus increasing their motivation and giving them that sense of movement, of progression in their language.
But, you might ask, isn't that what we do anyway? Don't we teach our clients in every lesson and give them the tools by which they can better perform their work in English?
Yes and no. A session might focus on developing particular vocabulary (ESP / EAP), improve grammar or be thematic. CBT-ESL training combines these with defined competencies ensuring we set, address and achieve our "can dos".
So how as a trainer do you go about adapting your training plan to integrate competencies? Think fist about the big picture, the end goal as it were - what do you want your students to learn. Telephoning? Fantastic. Then break it down into components - phrases, tasks and so on. Develop a logical sequence, cluster competencies into logical groups, take a step back, go through it to look for gaps or double-ups... and don't forget - have you targeted your "can dos" appropriately? Are you reaching too high for your students' level, or too low? Are the scenarios suitable?
As the global financial belt gets tightened it is increasingly important for ESL training to fight for its corner and for trainers to lift their game, providing measurable outcomes to clients' HR departments, set achievable goals for individual students and apply CBT techniques in the ESL training environment.
That's certainly what I'm doing, and the response is 100 per cent positive.