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Learning … at the point of sale


From E-Learning V

Fig.1. Is green glass especially preferred by alcoholics? Recycling in the Budgens’ car park, Moreton in Marsh, Gloucestershire.

In advertising, the saying goes, that you are influencing a person’s decision to purchase as they reach up to the shelf: do they buy this or that product.

Increasingly, as we are forever at that point of sale because the shop shelf is now in the palm of our hands or at the end of our fingertips, these sales hints, tips and pushes are there too; or at least they try to be.

Learning on the job, in the workplace, or ‘applied’ and ‘just in time’ learning is like this too. The intention is to influence and support us right when we need it, to be that mentor looking over our shoulder, someone whispering in our ear … our omnipresent HAL.

Particularly when it comes to learning a language I most desire someone by my side, seeing where I am, what I am doing and even what I am looking at or reaching for to give me tips, in their mother tongue, describing or explaining what it is before me. I can think of four occasions when this has occurred:

From E-Learning V

1) On a French Exchange visit when I was at school.

I was 17. He was 19 and on his second repeat year at his French High School in La Rochelle, determined to achieve the grades in his BAC to go to an ‘Ecole Superieur’ (He succeeded, he now runs housing in Nice). Frédérique fed me words, explained what was going on, worked on my accent, gave me lyrics to French songs and poems, took me to school, to museums, introduced me to his friends … I kept a journal and scrapbook covering my three weeks in France; I’ve just been looking through it.

From E-Learning V

2) Working in my gap year as the ‘chasseur’ or ‘bell boy’ or ‘ day porter’ for five months in a French 4 Star hotel in the French Alps.

This was well before the ‘English invasion’ so, laughingly, my role was to help the Manageress and reception team when they had English speaking clients, as well as carry bags, dig cars out of snow, serve breakfasts, run errands, carry skis … The young women, I was 18, they were in their early twenties, on reception, would explain a term; the staff in the hotel fed me filth: phrases and words they hoped I’d use and get into trouble and sometimes the guests … I kept a photo journal of the five months Dec through to May that I spent in Val d’Isere.

3) Working with a bilingual production assistant

I’d known in the UK during the 18 months or so that I had various jobs in French TV/Film. We’d work in both French and English, rocking and rolling between the two languages to write proposals and scripts. I found a file of this stuff in the garage: I’ve not looked at it in 23 years.

4) My girlfriend, fiancée and wife

She went to a French speaking school in Quebec when she was 13 and like me has done spells working in France. She now limits herself to correcting my accent, forcing my face into an oral workout that makes me feel like I am 14 again and have a brace with elastics. Speaking French, if you’re getting the accent right, for a Brit, is like taking you mouth to the gym and pushing weight.

Examples of learning ‘at the point of sale’

From E-Learning V

Fig.2. Poster display in the waiting room of the Department of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, Princess Royal Hospital. 

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