Tandem teaching

Could tandem teaching work as a business model?

So: The corporate client books a two-day course for a large-ish group of staff  and gets not one, but two trainers to come in to run the session. The trainers take it in turns: One runs an activity while the other collects vocabulary on the board and runs the feedback session. This would solve an issue I have with compacts (my mainstay as a trainer), namely that it’s often difficult to organize feedback because I’m only just getting to know the learners, and focus more on fluency/ natural exchange/ focused input than on structured feedback – especially since the level of English tends to be very mixed in such groups. Obviously, monitoring large groups is also far more effective if there’s two of you. My large classes of over 30 students at Wildau are making me appreciate the value of a better teacher-learner ratio.

Working in tandem also solves another issue: It makes it easier to arrange group briefing, a very valuable tool in communicative methodology, whereby one group gets one set of information while the other gets another, and clarify issues as a group, before individuals from one group go and pair up with someone from the other.

I recently heard Stephanie Ashford and Tom Smith present their excellent Business English Simulation “StartUp Emterprise” and soon after started turning over in my head how I could run a two day course using it, or create something similar. I’ve taught groups of assistants back office skills in English for years for Management Circle and Verlag für die Deutsche Wirtschaft, and those courses usually run for 2 days. Now I was wondering whether the engineers, project managers and trainees might also have time for a two-day session covering a wider range of business English language and skills. Would they find a simulation compact valuable?

Working on skills makes more sense in a compact format than in an extended one, this much I’ve found from my university courses. I provide training in hosting visitors and running international teams, and have given presentations compacts, both of which could easily be done in tandem. So how about trying it with a general business English skills compact.

Stephanie and Tom generally run their StartUp Enterprize simulation  with college students. It might be great to do their simulation (or a similar one) with my Masters’ and PhD students from various disciplines in Potsdam. But I’d frankly really like to try it out first in a company. They’d have to be willing to volunteer their time in exchange for training by a highly motivated and professional but experimental tandem duo, either using the StartUp Enterprize simulation or creating another content package.

I have some tandem experience, and it has frankly not always been 100% good. I mean, when you’re not together, when you’re competing rather than moving in sync, the tandem tips over, right? Bruises ensue. Stubbed toes and bloody noses. That’s why I want to do this with someone I really respect and like and can play with, someone who shares my vision and would make it worthwhile to take home less pay and enjoy the experience. In the long run I don’t think that I’d necessarily earn less by sharing, since this might take the quality to a new level, and in business training, quality can be marketed accordingly. But at the moment I’m frankly just curious about the ride together.

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Anne

Teaching English for business communication skills, writing online for learners, translating, sailing whenever I can, from Washington, D.C.

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