International Language of Learning


Having just completed two weeks of training to French Speaking participants in Mali, I was reminded that there are approaches and techniques that are universal to training, regardless of language, literacy, culture, ethnicity or religion. I have categorized these into the “Four E’s” below:


Put simply, you get out of it, what you put in. When your audience sees that you are putting in the effort they will be compelled to work hard too. It is like a pendulum and as trainers we wanting it to swing in our favour.


If the trainer is not enthusiastic about their content, how can they expect their participants to be enthused? Far too many trainers are “just going through the motions” and do not invest enough of themselves in their presentations. Enthusiasm can be infectious. Conversely, a lack of enthusiasm can be terminal.


Sometimes it is the little things that make the biggest difference when it comes to engagement. Anticipatory items like colourful posters on the walls and tactile items (“fiddles”) on the tables to greet participants tells the audience that this is not like traditional training. Moreover, it highlights that something different and something special is about to happen and this will promote early engagement.


Like it or not, training is part education and part entertainment. But there are some simple things that we can all do with our performance that can assist in attracting and maintaining the attention of the audience and transform our training into edutainment. For instance, music could be used effectively in a variety of ways:

  • As an introduction to signpost the beginning of the session;
  • As sound effects (e.g. drum roll or cheering) used when participants share responses.
  • During get-to-know-you activities to promote positive networking;
  • During small group discussions to signal the duration of the activity (i.e. we come back when the music stops) Further to this, the use of chimes or other musical instruments can be a fun way to identify the conclusion of a discussion activity.

As a side note, it is always wonderful to be involved with international training as I think it pushes us professionally – it asks us to work outside our comfort zone and think outside the squares that often frame our regular training. It pushes us to find new solutions to old problems and encourages us to challenge the status quo that can define our own training performance.