In the world of corporate language training, self-learning platforms have become increasingly popular due to their scalability. These platforms can provide low cost training solutions to very big cohorts of students. Numerous language training providers are developing new and exciting digital products in what is become a highly competitive market. However, some of these platforms are designed for testing rather than teaching. This issue stems partly from technological limitations but also from an inability to mirror the act of teaching in a digital format. To address this, we need to shift our focus not only towards integrating more comprehensive systems for tips and feedback, but also the creation of adaptive systems which can respond to learner needs.

The Testing Approach

The current trend in most self-learning platforms is to prioritize assessment over instruction. They often feature multiple-choice questions or similar formats that assess learners’ existing knowledge rather than expanding or reinforcing it. The opportunity for learners to construct sentences, take part in interactive dialogues or free speech is entirely absent. Feedback is frequently binary, meaning only right or wrong answers are provided, and there is no attempt to supply learners with insights into why an answer is incorrect. This can lead to a superficial understanding of language, focusing more on rote learning, rather than on practical, conversational, and professional usage.

The Teaching Approach

Language teaching, on the other hand, is about facilitating understanding, encouraging critical thinking, and developing practical skills. The goal is to create tools that not only evaluate but also instruct, guide, and help learners internalize the language they need for their own business context. Teaching-focused platforms prioritize interactive learning experiences. These tools encourage active participation, such as forming sentences, engaging in simulated dialogues, or completing practical exercises that mimic real-life business scenarios. Unlike binary “right” and “wrong” answers, teaching-oriented platforms must offer detailed explanations on errors and provide constructive feedback. They must suggest ways to improve and help facilitate a deeper understanding of the language. This approach to self-paced learning could be described as the “hidden teacher,” a voice that guides you on your unique learning path.

With this approach, there is a strong emphasis on teaching language in context, so that learners are better able to apply their skills in real-world situations, leading to more effective and confident business communication. This ensures that learners are not just “test ready” but can also possess a well-rounded skill set, from grammar and vocabulary to a wider range of soft skills, including the ability to assess cultural nuances.

What should the user expect from teaching-orientated self-learning platforms?

The main purpose would be to offer immediate and detailed feedback. In addition to correcting mistakes, these tools would provide more detailed feedback on incorrect answers, including examples, explanations, suggested alternatives, and improvements. For instance, after a learner submits an answer, the tool can highlight errors, explain grammatical rules, and provide contextually relevant examples.

Not only that, but the next generation of AI-driven tools must be able to adapt to the learner’s individual needs, and be able to recognize the learner’s proficiency level, learning style, and professional requirements. An adaptive model like this is able to analyse the learner’s performance, adapt the difficulty of tasks and the type of content, suggesting specific modules that focus on the learners’ weaker areas, filling their knowledge and skills gaps accordingly. Incorporating generative AI tools will facilitate interactive content like simulations, role-plays, and real-life scenarios. This will bring in many of the elements from the classroom which were traditionally missing in self-paced learning.


The transformation from a testing-centric to a teaching-centric approach in self-learning language tools is crucial for effective corporate language training. By integrating comprehensive feedback systems, offering personalized tips, and developing adaptive learning modules, these platforms can become more than just evaluators of language proficiency. They can evolve into sophisticated trainers, tailor-made for the dynamic needs of professionals seeking scalable solutions. This shift is not merely technological but fundamentally pedagogical, marking a paradigm shift in how language is taught and learned in a self-paced learning environment.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay


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