Another week has passed and more conferences have been held. But these conferences have been anything but normal.
Once again I found myself chatting with a colleague about the "new normal" that has emerged in the language training sector. I wouldn't be exaggerating if I said that at the moment we find ourselves dividing into two camps; the first camp consisting of the advocates of video conferencing and the face to face can't be replaced second camp.
I can't help but notice that the second camp takes an almost militant stance against video conferencing. It's almost as if they are offended at the prospect of being reliant upon technology to assist them with their very human, very personal work. In fact, I don't think that it'd be an exaggeration to say that some of my colleagues speak as if any reliance on conferencing technology in the intimate one on one setting is plain evil.
The advocates of video conferencing camp, on the other hand, sometimes sound like cheerleaders for video conferencing companies. The tech is good, it's our man, security you be damned! That seems to be the cheer and I have to admit that I have found myself chanting along. Some of the companies that provide the technology have admitted to and set out to fix the bugs that have been a major source of concern for the security conscious.
But my colleagues and I are mostly concerned with the human toll. Our camps are divided into the students need me in the room camp and the students are forced to concentrate camp. Don't get me wrong several camps are forming but these are the most vocal at the moment.
I find all the camps interesting but have to admit that I enjoy the tech and, despite what my name might suggest, I am not techy. I believe video conferencing allows a language trainer to focus on learners in ways that we could not in the past. I have mentioned body language in my last post. From the language trainer's perspective, I find video conferencing software very effective especially for one on one courses. Virtually every distraction is eliminated and as a trainer, one can focus on the learner's voice, lexical and grammatical choices.
Don't get me wrong, I do a lot of hand gesturing when I communicate. I can go toe to toe with an Italian when it comes to body talk and that's one of the reasons that I like video conferencing software for language courses. Sometimes it really comes down to what you say and how you say it. I don't mean how your body says it; on the contrary, I mean how it sounds coming from your mouth. With video conferencing software we are forced to listen to our course participants and the sound of our own voices. We as language coaches, trainers, and teachers can't coax our course participants into continuing a conversation or elaborating on an issue by using our body language to encourage our participants. We have to articulate to our course participants that we would like them to continue or to elaborate further on an issue.
I guess it's because I'm also an artist, a rapper to be precise, and communication is like a song to me. You have to hit the notes, you can't gesture your way through a song. I'm looking forward to hearing the music that this little blog song will inspire readers to sing, rap, or play.