Remote Learning

Remote learning can be broadly defined as moving teaching and learning activity from a physical, face-to-face classroom to a digital “space” accessible to both trainers and learners remotely. Advances in technology mean that remote learning now encompasses both static, time and space dependent activities in a digital classroom of one form or another as well as mobile learning using hand-held devices, which can be accessed asynchronously and at the point of need of the learner. With the global pandemic of 2019-22, remote learning became the default option for almost all students, including those of English as a foreign language (EFL). Although arising out of necessity, remote learning in EFL has proved to have its own advantages, particularly in terms of learner engagement, confidence and the balance of learner and teacher talking time.


Remote learning encourages student engagement through the increased ease of personalization. Trainers are better able to offer both graded exercises and a choice of input material (for example reading texts or audio/video files) to cater to varying levels of proficiency as well as learners’ differing learning needs and goals. (For example, one student or group may want to focus on listening skills, while for another, reading is more important. Using a Learning Management System (LMS) such as Google Classroom which enables the use of breakout rooms, allowing teachers to offer more than one mode of input within the same class.) Student feedback from such mixed modes can then be combined in whole-class activities. Two examples of this are a jigsaw activity where learners combine information from audio-visual and text sources to complete an itinerary for a business trip, or a collaborative activity where students work together on a presentation having each studied one set of information from differing input sources. Away from the (synchronous) classroom, learners are also able to work independently on personalized (or personalizable) homework tasks using mobile technologies and the internet.

Some advantages

Learner confidence can also be seen to increase in a remote learning environment relative to the traditional classroom. Confidence is linked to both ability and motivation and interacts with them: high levels of motivation can lead to increased ability in the long term, which in turn leads to increased confidence and decreased learner anxiety when using the target language. Decreased anxiety can also enhance performance levels, which again acts as a motivating factor [Wu et al, 2011: 119]. There is also evidence [Pearson Languages, 2022] that “shy students and those who feel unable to participate in a classroom environment are more willing to engage with the teacher and other students in online courses.” Remote learning can therefore be seen as a driver in equality and inclusion in the language learning classroom.

When travelling to a physical classroom is no longer necessary, learners are able to attend classes easily before or after work or during the lunch break. This ability to plan a lesson into a day rather than planning a day around a lesson again acts to increase motivation and engagement. The use of an LMS permits both trainer and learner ready access to a wider range of materials than might otherwise be the case, particularly in contexts where coursebooks or print materials such as English-language newspapers are difficult to come by. Further, in those cases where global players wish to offer training to employees from more than one region, remote classrooms afford the opportunity to bring together staff from different parts of the globe, enabling an exchange of ideas and experience in real-time, as well as valuable experience in communicating with other second-language speakers.

Feedback and assessment

Remote learning provides opportunities for increased student talking time in that learners can be encouraged to interact outside of the classroom sessions through the provision of collaborative homework tasks, preparation of vlogs, recording of presentations, and so on. These productive tasks can then form the basis of formative feedback in the classroom [British Council, 2021]. By setting up an e-portfolio of work for each learner and including such tasks as well as more traditional written or information-type activities, both students and their trainer are able to track progress in such areas as pronunciation and spoken accuracy as well as grammar and lexis. Given that homework tasks tend to be undertaken in a lower-anxiety context than either the classroom or testing situations, these can give a fairer overall picture of a learner’s competence when combined with samples of oral work taken from, for example, classroom presentations. In addition, e-portfolio tasks lend themselves to summative assessment as well as metacognitive reflection on the part of the learner. Students can track their progress through a course and note areas of improvement and skills learned or improved, in addition to assessing weaknesses and planning or re-planning their future learning needs. The e-portfolio also allows trainers to easily track learner progress and plan or adjust course aims in line with information gathered from the work submitted.

In terms of diagnostic assessment, Learnship’s STEP+ package in particular offers the advantages of a lower-anxiety online testing environment together with scalability, allowing training managers to roll out programs with ease. Both learners and training managers receive timely results of the assessment, and these are linked to the learner’s profile, enabling students and their trainers to track an individual’s progress throughout the duration of a course, as well as offering valuable input towards a comprehensive learner Needs Analysis (NA).


While there will always be a place for the physical classroom, the changing demands of the modern, post-pandemic lifestyle together with advances in technology driven by the Covid-19 crisis itself have gone some way to ensure that remote learning is not only normalized but also itself reflects the realities of much business communication today. As such, remote learning can be seen as supporting the contexts in which students find themselves outside the classroom in addition to offering flexibility and the opportunity to access a more diverse range of materials than would otherwise be the case. The inclusive aspects of remote learning also provide greater opportunities to those learners who might otherwise struggle to participate fully in a face-to-face classroom. Here at Learnship, we strive to take these factors into account, both in our materials and our range of products – from bespoke to fully scalable – all of which are administered by dedicated trainers via our virtual classroom.


British Council, 2021; Remote Teaching, Online Learning; [accessed 31.07.2023]

Pearson Languages, 2022: The advantages of online distance learning; [accessed 31.07.2023]

Wu, W.-C. V., Yen, L. L., & Marek, M., 2011; Using Online EFL Interaction to Increase Confidence, Motivation, and Ability; Educational Technology & Society, 14 (3), 118–129. [accessed 31.07.2023]