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Online interaction as a standard

Some companies only do face-to-face language learning. Others, however, are willing to use all the online tools made available by technology. The European multinational NTT is one of them. This fixed-line and mobile network communications company, provider of Internet and systems integration services, has made virtual training a standard.

For over two years, NTT employees have been learning English with Training Express. What started out as a pilot experience with face-to-face and online lessons has become a 100% virtual program.

"At first we did a combination of face-to-face classes -from another provider- and online training. But in the second year we decided to use Training Express' online platform exclusively. We stopped doing face-to-face classes because survey results on Training Express were highly positive" says Xavi Fernández, the head of human resources at NTT.

In Fernández's view, the success of online training reflects the comparative advantages it offers over conventional teaching. "It has enabled us to improve attendance rates immensely. This is a key metric for us. What's more, we have achieved very high satisfaction scores for the course".

"It has enabled us to improve attendance rates immensely. This is a key metric for us. What's more, we have achieved very high satisfaction scores for the course."

According to the head of human resources, online lessons have solved one of the main obstacles the company had run into with face-to-face training: poor attendance. "Because there was a set schedule that couldn't be modified, we found that we had very low attendance rates." This stumbling block was largely overcome by virtual training.

When NTT decided to go 100% virtual, it carried out an in-deph analysis of the pros and cons of each training format: what did they lose or gain from each approach? "Direct contact with the teacher was diluted. You could'nt make live comments and have him or her correct you on the spot. But this last point was dealt with through telephone lessons," explains Xavi Fernández.

At the outset, there were just over a dozen students. Later, that figured doubled, and now at least 30% of NTT's 130 employees study English with Training Express. "We started out with 15-minute sessions four times a month. However, our follow-up surveys showed that a quarter of an hour was not enough, so we extended them 30 minutes. It's been a total success," says Xavi Fernández.

NTT's upcoming challenges and goals in language training include an in-depth analysis of the impact of language learning on employees' job performance. "We need to see what impact it has on day-to-day business. So we're going to track students' performance on a weekly basis: in what areas they are improving, where are they falling short, what new vocabulary are they learning. But the best analysis, of course, comes from employees' managers. They are the ones who can really appreciate better job performance," he said.

In addition, one of NTT's medium-term goals is to adapt specific content to each employee's job position and tasks. "We know this is hard, but with telephone and Skype-based training you can arrange sessions any way you like. If you need to work on business English, a specific presentation, or a training session on another topic, you can go ahead and do that," says NTT's head of human resources.