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A question of convenience

Online platforms are becoming more and more common in the language training industry. Convenience, speed and effectiveness are some of the reasons why companies are relying on them to improve their employees’ language skills. The possibility of combining virtual and face-to-face sessions makes these platforms an important training tool in the corporate world.

Bershka, which is part of the Inditex Group, is among those companies that have discovered the advantages of using an online platform to offer their employees a more dynamic language training system. Regardless of whether students are learning through face-to-face or virtual classes, at Bershka, they are all connected to the Training Express platform. “We decided to get rid of books. Now students can find all the material they need – vocabulary, grammar and exercises – on the platform,” says Erika Gomez, who works in the Training Department at Bershka.

. “We decided to get rid of books. Now students can find all the material they need – vocabulary, grammar and exercises – on the platform” This makes learning more dynamic and flexible, according to Erika. The sessions are aimed at the staff in charge of logistics and talent within the company, who need to be able to communicate fluently in English: Bershka has close to 1,000 stores spread over 68 different countries.

Of the 115 Bershka employees currently learning English with Training Express, 60 are attending face-to-face classes, 30 have chosen virtual sessions, and 15 the digital option. The choice of one channel over another is based on student availability. People who need to travel more normally opt for virtual sessions. If students have an urgent need to improve their language skills, face-to-face and virtual sessions can be combined. The objective is to offer learners the flexibility they need, so they can choose the training option that adapts best to them and their schedules.

With face-to-face training, students normally have one 90-minute session per week, plus an hour of online preparation and/or consolidation. Virtual sessions are normally 30 minutes long, held twice a week over the phone or Skype, plus two hours of preparation and follow-up. The process is as follows: first students prepare for the class by working on the contents available on the platform, and then, in the speaking sessions (face-to-face or virtual), they consolidate and practice what they have learned.

Bershka first came into contact with Training Express at the end of 2011. They worked together on the launch of a virtual training pilot program, which ran throughout 2012. The reason why they chose to go virtual at the beginning was due the location of Bershka headquarters, 41 miles from Barcelona, which were difficult for teachers to reach.

The results were so positive that, in 2013, Bershka not only decided to continue working with Training Express, but also to start combining face-to-face training with virtual sessions. “In general, students prefer traditional classes, but more and more people are asking us for virtual training. It’s a question of convenience,” says Erika.