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What 2021 Taught Us About English Language Learning

–Hey, Simon, would you like to start a podcast with me?
–Hhmm, I’ve never done it before.
–Neither have I. Are you in?
–Of course I’m in, Paola!

Fast forward one year later, and here we are –wrapping up a year of unexpected success. Talaera Talks has allowed us to talk to you directly about the most relevant topics in the business English training industry and show you how to become an effective communicator. It has allowed you to find the time to learn on a busy day, while cooking, driving, or doing the laundry. Talaera Talks has reached people in over 140 countries, across contintents and industries. In this episode, we share what thousands of non-native English professionals around the world worked on, what matters most to managers, and what you can expect from 2022.

Professional English Topics

With an ever more globalized workplace, communication skills are crucial for virtually any role. Both individuals and organizations are becoming more aware of the importance of being a proficient English speaker, and we’ve seen it in the requests we receive and conversations we have.

One of the most popular topics this year was effective communication. Many English learners needed to build up the confidence to speak up in meetings, engage in small talk, deliver clear messages at work, and introduce themselves professionally.

Another incredibly popular topic has been professional writing, in particular, business emails. Even with a dictionary, autocorrect, or great apps like Grammarly, writing effective emails can be tricky, especially if you are contacting people from other cultures. Learners understand that email etiquette, cultural differences, and concise writing are essential to thrive in the workplace.

The bronze medal goes to impactful presentations. Most of us are used to giving presentations to our team mates and some of us to speaking in front of hundreds of people. However, doing it confidently and with impact is a different story. Today’s working environment is fast and busy, and drawing people’s attention is as necessary as it is difficult.

In terms of this year’s podcast episodes, we also have our personal favorites:

Changes In Adult Learning

Getting through a world pandemic has made us question not only the way we work, but also the way we learn. These are the most remarkable changes this year in adult learning.

Online learning

One of the biggest changes in adult learning in the past year or two has been a heavier focus on online learning. When Talaera was founded, back in 2017, elearning was a novelty for most people. Today, most of us are working from home and many professionals have embraced learning English online. 

Drawing from our personal experience, even those with Zoom fatigue have enjoyed meeting their teachers on the Talaera platform. They look forward to that one hour in the middle of the day where they can just log off of Zoom and Slack and invest in their development with a teacher they get to bond with.

Remedy against the Great Resignation

The world is going through a hiring crisis. People are leaving their jobs and organizations are struggling to find and retain talent. It is hard for startups and SMEs to compete with big companies, and even big corporates are finding it hard to hire qualified, experienced employees. Their response? Recruit people with high potential and less experience, and train them.

We saw an uptick in communications training geared towards upskilling employees. For example, many companies are finding it hard to find tech leads. They may find professionals who are good on the technical aspect, but their leadership or communication skills are not up to par. Their solution? Offer them communications training to fill that gap, instead of looking for someone with all the skills from the get go (which is exceedingly difficult in today’s workplace).

Personalized learning

If we look at the different programs and the ways of learning that we’ve seen this year, customized learning for the individual is king. With so many resources out there, we need content that relates specifically to us now more than ever. In language learning, that is really difficult. Most of the materials are created in broad terms so that they can be accessed by many people. However, as a learner, you need a professional that can help you figure out exactly what you need and how to access it. 

Scalable training

Companies are leaning towards a combination of personalized training that is also scalable. They are already reaping the benefits of offering group courses, workshops, and webinars. While they are customized to the learners’ needs and role, organizations are able to access more employees. During the pandemic, learning with coworkers was, for many, a way to have a break, bond with colleagues, and invest in their professional development in a fun way. 

Learning on the go

Learners love to have a learning option they can access while washing the dishes, doing the laundry, or driving to the mall. We’re all so busy, that digesting long reads has become increasingly uncommon. Podcasts, webinars, and the audio version of blog articles have become a great way to learn on the go. 

Self-paced courses

Apart from learning on the go, adults want to be able to learn at their own pace. We all have different responsibilities, personal demands, and simply different learning abilities. Having access to a course that helps you unlock that one skill you need for work, which you can do at your own pace in an engaging way is a true game changes.

Look out for Talaera Self-Paced Courses coming up in 2022. Stay tune through our newsletter.

This article works as supporting material for our podcast episode 33. You can read the transcript below. Make sure you check out all our other Talaera Talks episodes and subscribe to get new episode alerts.

Keep improving your communication skills for the workplace

Continue improving your communication skills for professional situations – get in touch with Talaera. If you wish to take your professional English communication skills to the next level, here are some valuable resources:

Effective English Solution for Your Global Teams - Talaera

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If you enjoyed this article, keep reading:

Talaera Talks – Transcript Episode 33

If you are learning English, including new English words and expressions will help you with effective communication. Remember to check out our other episodes on how to make small talk, how to deliver engaging presentations, how to speak English fluently, and many more: visit the podcast website. Listen to it on your favorite platform.

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Welcome to Talaera Talks, the business English communication podcast for non-native professionals. My name is Paola and I am co-hosting this show with Simon. In this podcast, we’re going to be covering communication advice and tips to help express yourself with confidence in English in professional settings. So we hope you enjoy the show!

All right, everyone, welcome wherever you are to the last Talaera podcast of 2021. It’s crazy to say, but it has been a year doing this podcast together with you Paola. How are you doing? How crazy is it that we’re doing this a year later?

Very, very, very much so. So I’m super excited. I would have not believed that we would be here in December 2021, after a whole year of podcasting, for the first time ever. I think it’s been such a wonderful project. And I couldn’t just ask for more.

Yeah, yeah, it’s a, it is funny, I think back on like, when you brought it up, and, and, and neither of us had done a podcast before or anything like it. And there was so much we didn’t know. And I think it’s cool to do it together with someone who’s like, just always in for learning more. And that’s I mean, that’s what we’re all about, and what Talaera is all about. So it’s pretty cool to do it. And so what’s our current number of organic downloads?

So it’s over 20,000. I don’t know if it’s 20,300. I don’t I’m not 100% Sure, but it’s definitely over 20,000. And we haven’t done any any paid ads, or that’s why it’s all organic, because people have been listening to it. And that just brings us so much joy. It’s great. So we can just say thank you so much.

Yeah, yes, yes, a big thank you to everybody listening everybody. All over. It was like over 140 countries where people were listening from, which is just so weird to think about. I was like talking to someone the other day, and I was like there is someone and Thailand that’s just listening to us, which is… That’s so weird. But, but yeah, I what we’ll do today for this last podcast is we’re going to talk a little bit about what some of our personal favorite podcasts are, and why we you know, particularly like those, also what your favorite podcasts were. So, you know, the ones that we see very clearly are the most popular ones. And maybe you can go and revisit them. And then we’ll give some some updates just on what we’re doing and what our plans are. We want to talk about changes in learning, right? And what are we going to talk about with that?

So here we are, I mean, we’re super in touch with what people ask for, what people want to learn about, what HR asks, or what HR managers ask us to, to teach their employees. And so here we’ve we’ve seen how people learn, why people learn what topics are the most important ones, or most popular ones… And how companies have been implementing that into their learning programs. So we’ll talk a little bit about that.

Yeah, that the whole, like, industry of corporate learning is just changing and has been changing like crazy. And there’s so much that, yeah, we’re learning and trying to go with the flow of it. It’s really exciting. And then as well, we’ll just give you a few hints on some, you know, big things that will be coming up next year. But let’s, yeah, let’s start just with our personal favorites. What were our personal favorites in terms of the podcasts that we recorded? For me, I’ll be honest with you, definitely not any of the first like five. I said ‘absolutely’… The word ‘absolutely’. I said that maybe, you know, every 10 seconds. So none of those, I can’t can’t listen to any of those. But, you know, for me, I think it’s kind of a kind of a toss up between “How different cultures say no”. And I thought, you know, I thought it was a lot of fun doing the “How… How to communicate better with Americans”, with you know, people from the United States. So those are those are kind of my two. I’m not sure which one would be my favorite. I don’t know. What about you, Paola, which one? Which one was your favorite?

So I think my favourites are definitely the ones where either the two of us are talking or we invited people. For me that was super exciting. The fact that we got to talk to Neeraja from Thomson Reuters, Lior, Jitin from Salesforce, I thought that was just great. And everything they said was brilliant. So I would choose those.

Yeah, you know, now maybe I have to like, switch my answer back and…

(Laughts) Too late, too late!

I think, for me, just because coming from the HR background and really interested in learning and development and talking with Neeraja, and all the cool things they’re doing at Thomson Reuters, and how, yeah, how she views learning and the ownership she talks about that she wants people to have in their learning. I was like, after that, when we recorded that podcast, I like did like 20 push ups, I was ready to go. I was so inspired after that. So that was a lot of fun. Yeah.

That was awesome. And then we also looked at what our listeners liked the most or what what they listened to the most. And we had… Can you guess? Do you know which ones they could be?

Yeah, I I feel like it would be one of the ones like, I don’t know, if maybe the first one effective communication? I don’t know.

Yeah, that’s been one of the most popular ones. So effective communication, impactful presentations is number two. And number three is how to introduce yourself professionally. Those three were the top podcast we’ve had in 2021.

That’s interesting. I think it totally makes sense with the doing the presentations, impactful presentations, because that’s, that’s something that we hear and that we we do trainings on all the time. Introducing yourself professionally is interesting. That’s, that’s really interesting.

I know, I guess it’s because it can be really awkward. Introducing yourself. We do it all the time. But it’s just what do I say? Should I say I have kids? Should they say I live in Tel Aviv? Should they say I… I’ve been working here for 10 years? What What should they say there? It’s a little bit awkward. So I guess that’s why people wanted to… learn how to do it.

Yeah, those first five minutes. Right? And we also did one on small talk. And I think, yeah, that we I think we find that kind of to be pretty common with a lot of with a lot of the people that we’re working with. Cool, cool. Well, yeah, I mean, you know, if you’re listening, and you want to revisit some of these, by, by all means, go for it. And also, you can look at the blog and follow the transcript and kind of get notes from there and everything like that. So very cool. Awesome. Well, let’s, let’s, uh, let’s build on that a little bit and get into those changes in learning that we were talking about those ones that we’ve really seen this past year. And, and I think these are kind of big trends, of course, but but ones that especially in the past year, we’ve seen a lot in that where we really focus on, you know, at Talaera about like, how can we incorporate that in English learning, which is, I think, pretty interesting. What’s, what’s one of the, the real changes or shifts that you’ve seen? Okay, maybe not this year, but over the past couple of years, and we’ll, we’ll put it in the box of this year.

So I think definitely the online learning or the online aspect of learning. I think when we started that was 2017. People were really interested in what we did, and it was almost like a novelty. Uh, learning online, but we already have an in house teacher, why would we want to learn online? You know, it’s, it sounded a bit odd. Now everyone’s working online. Everyone is used to Zoom or Meet. And we’ve seen that people have embraced it so well. And I guess there’s a big difference between having Zoom meetings and having online training with… I can talk about the Talaera teachers, I think it’s fun. And we always say, we only hire teachers we would love to have a drink with because they’re fun, they’re nice. They have their own story and their background. And I don’t know, what do you think Simon?

Yeah, you know, that’s, it is. It is amazing how people can adapt and watching that throughout COVID… People have adapted really quickly to working remotely and, you know, Zoom meetings, at the same time that that whole thing about Zooms fatigue, which we hear a lot about, is a real thing, right? Being tired of zoom meetings. And that’s where I think what we found a lot of times is our students, they’re looking forward to that one hour in the middle of their day where they can just, you know, log off of Zoom but get onto our platform and meet a teacher and, and work together with them. And, and yeah, you know, being the People & Culture Manager at Talaera, I can definitely say that, you know, well, that’s one of our kind of things that we look for in a teacher when we’re hiring is, is this someone that I would I would like to hang around with. Is this is someone that I want to have a conversation with that has an interesting story? And that’s yeah, we definitely take that into consideration. So it’s not just a, you know, you’re sitting on a click through thing or anything like that. It is very personal. Another another big thing, and I’d love to hear your thoughts about this, it’s really how this whole hiring crisis, we’ve talked about employee engagement, we’ve had a big webinar on employee engagement. And we’ve talked about how there is this, you know, the Great Recession, right of the Great Resignations, sorry of people leaving their jobs, and at the same time, there’s this big hiring crisis, how does that kind of fit into what what you’ve seen over the past year?

So we’ve here we’ve been hearing this a lot from from the people we work with, and also with from friends that have a company or they’re managing a team, we see how people are leaving, how hard it is to compete with big companies, or even being a big company, it is hard to attract talent and, and retain talent. And what we’ve seen now is that companies have seen that the only way to go is to hire more junior roles. So people with a little bit, perhaps less experience or less trained, and train them themselves. So offering them, we can talk about our part that is communications training. And so here, and I have a very specific example, for example, in high tech with developers, it’s very, very hard to find… to find developers, to just hire new ones, so perhaps they can be really good at, you know, on the technical aspect, but they’re not senior enough to become a tech lead. And that’s where you can train them on how to provide feedback, how to be proactive, how to be assertive across cultures, how to manage conflict… So that’s how a lot of companies are doing it these days.

Yeah, yeah, you know, that’s huge, right? As we talk a lot, and because we do work with many, many companies in the tech sector, it’s like, you hear a lot about that T shaped right, you want someone to be T shaped where they have a good base across a lot of different skills and abilities. But then they have that one deep when they can go very deep on one topic where they’re more of like an expert, and we hear a lot where, you know, one side of that T for some people and you know, especially in tech is yeah, those those communication skills, which, you know, I don’t know if we call them soft skills any… you know, any more because that I don’t know, I don’t, I don’t really think that that accurately represents what it is. But yeah, giving feedback, and doing that across cultures, and how important that is with management. I mean, we talked about this whole in our employee engagement, employee engagement webinar, we talked about how, really at the end of the day, it comes down to the direct managers providing feedback and, and how important that is. And yeah, I mean, so all of that is communication training, but then doing that right, in your second language is just, I mean, that’s, that’s difficult.

It’s hard for them to be soft skills.

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Very difficult skills.

Exactly. Um, what else? So we’ve, we also talked about the different programs and the ways of learning that we’ve seen this year and customized learning for the individual is still extremely relevant and important. Yeah. What do you think Simon?

Yeah, you know, I think even the most like the most important, I think now, where there’s just so much content out there for everyone… Everybody wants something that relates specifically to them. And in language training, that’s really difficult, because most of the most of the materials people create are kind of like, broad materials that can that can be accessible to many people. But then, you know, you need someone that you can work with that knows exactly what you need, right. And so, I think for us, we tried to hire teachers, and we tried to bring in and work with teachers that have more of that kind of consultant mindset, you know, of like, let’s, let’s go in and work specifically on what it is that you want and what it is that you need. And that’s I mean, that’s huge, right. And we also see that with some of the companies that we’re working with, right? I mean, that it’s not just the one-on-ones that we’re working with, right?

Exactly. So personalized training or customized training is extremely relevant. And then also the way students learn. Learn, as you said, it’s not only one on ones, but companies are seeing a lot of benefits in offering group courses, workshops, webinars. So these are more scalable, you can have more participants in there and still have it adapted to your company with with examples and You know, the vocabulary that we use, and that is all adapted to your industry, group courses I’ve seen, these are one of my favorites, I actually really like group courses, because you have only like four or five people from the same company they get along so well. And I remember during the pandemic, it was their way of bonding and not having to talk about work, it was just like, learning and having… I don’t know, it was so sweet.

Yeah, and that is a, it is a really cool thing to think about that, you know, because learning is a very kind of it is a very personal and intimate thing. And, and it is something that, you know, you kind of have to put yourself out there, if you’re in a group, and you’re all trying something new. And that’s a real big bonding and kind of team building thing is, if we’re all you know, our our team here is we have our group course that we go to, and, and we build up that’s yeah, that’s, that’s, yeah, I like that a lot. That’s cool. As well, though we do you know, the work, the workshops, and webinars and those as well, you know, we’re customizing for specific companies, which I think is it’s going to be interesting to see in this next year, how that kind of develops.

I know, right? Yeah. But we have seen so another thing, and this is the last one of today, one of the big changes that we’ve seen is how learners really want to have training on the go. And that can be while they’re doing the laundry people. I mean, everyone’s super busy. So while you’re driving, when you’re doing the laundry, when you’re cooking, you just want to keep learning at that time. So podcasts, webinars, even sometimes blog resources, if you have some time to read, I think those have become very, very popular, for sure.

Yeah. Yeah. So before we just get to some of the last few points, we didn’t talk about some of the personal updates, like what’s going on with us what’s going on with you? What this year, just really quickly, we won’t spend too much time on it. But just really quickly, what was it this year, like a big win or something that you’ve been proud of this past year?

Oh, the podcast has been one of my favorite projects, for sure. But if I were to mention something else has been it has been content. So I’ve been in charge of content development, and that will become self-paced courses, among other things, and I’m extremely excited about because that’s something coming up in 2022, where people will get to learn at their own pace, choose what they want to work on. And yeah, it’s pretty exciting.

So okay, and that is really exciting. And something that, you know, I don’t know too much about. So this is like, not the first time hearing about it, but it is, yeah, the whole idea that now we’re going to be able to offer something for people to where they can pick their own thing that they want to work on and and do that customized learning, but now it’s just whenever they want. Right?

Exactly. And getting feedback immediately and having practice exercises and getting to work on the specific topics they want to work on. So I think that’s gonna be pretty cool.

That is, that’s Yeah, yeah. And and, of course, the way that we design that and everything like that it’s going to be, I’m sure as like more like, most relevant as possible. With what we’re using. That’s yeah, that’s awesome. That’s awesome.

Yeah, I know. How about you, Simon?

Well, yeah, this year, this year has been crazy for me, like we both finished our master’s degrees, which is awesome. That was a really intense few weeks for both of us. And you know, this year has been crazy. I Yeah, started my, yeah, my first full time position with Talaera as the People & Culture Manager. So you know, I started that in Yeah, in June. And since then, it’s just been like, a full learning curve. And just, it’s been really exciting, but difficult. And I’ve been growing, I can, you know, when you feel like you can, you’re really growing and learning a lot. And that’s, I mean, that’s what that’s what I love. And I mean, for you know, I think the coolest company there is, you know, and, and I would say just the last point here that I’ll say is it’s it’s been really cool to see how much, you know, value we’re giving people that we’re actually providing something that people like and that they’re learning from and, you know, I think the mission is with Talaera is really to provide like the highest quality business English training there is but doing it in a way to where people can have fun with it and to where people feel like, this is helping me professionally but also, you know, with my life and I think, you know, for me, that’s, that’s really, really cool.

It’s amazing. I couldn’t agree more. It’s great. All right. So I think we have the last episode of the year. I think it’s it’s time to wrap up. What do you think?

Yeah, it’s time to wrap up and say goodbye for 2021 and, you know, we have some really exciting things coming next year, but those are going to be surprises. But yeah, watch out for the self-paced study. That’s going to be really cool. But yeah, we’ll end here and you know, wherever you are, I hope you have a great end to your year. And, as always, keep learning.

And that’s all we have for you today. We hope you enjoyed it, and remember to
subscribe to Talaera Talks. We’ll be back soon with more! And visit our website at for more valuable content on business English. You can also request a free consultation on the best ways for you and your team to improve your communication skills. So have a great day and keep learning!

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