Why do foreign exchange students who wish to learn a language visit the host country? Because immersion learning works.
The old-school approach to learning a language meant reciting vocabulary by memorizing lists of words, or learning to conjugate verbs by rote… tengo, tengas, tengan… But most language learners who immerse themselves by visiting a country would likely tell you their rate of learning increased exponentially.
The reality is an extremely important way most people learn: through informal learning experiences. This was the topic of discussion at a recent Argyle Executive Forum conference titled 2011 Leadership in Human Capital Spotlight: Learning and Development, which I attended back in early December.
At AchieveGlobal, we believe that 20 percent of organizational learning takes place through instructor-led, classroom-based or formalized content, while around 80 percent of learning takes place as workers put this learning into practice, or problem-solve in real-life situations.
The power of informal learning and the real-world benefits that organizations tend to gain have given new life to the idea of informal mentorships, by which learners in an organizational context can benefit from consistent support and help as they move from rung to rung on the ladder of their careers.
Many companies are realizing that in order to benefit from the real advantages of informal learning, they need to formally recognize the power of informal learning. But this can be quite a daunting step to take. As we discussed at the Argyle conference, for many organizations, there are real control issues around informal learning. How is it possible to measure informal learning and its successes?
The wise organization moves beyond this concern. It can be difficult to do this in a culture that relies heavily on measurable returns on quantified investments. For this reason, truly realizing the benefits of informal training can mean quite a fundamental paradigm shift at the organizational level.
Sharon Daniels is CEO of AchieveGlobal in Tampa, Florida