Agility. Versatility. Commitment. Growth.

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All these words could be applied to the ideal baseball player, the ideal team, or the ideal organization. Unfortunately, in these challenging times, the world is far from ideal. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted training schedules, halted travel, and cancelled games. Still, MiLB athletes persevere thanks to the teams who support their education even when players are off the field. Higher Standards Academy, LLC is ideally-positioned to support teams and players with tools to overcome the challenges of distance learning.

Many attributes of MiLB international athletes make them outstanding candidates for distance learning. Players tend to be disciplined and hard-working, and they know how to follow procedures. Often players have strong support from families, and they are of the generation that has grown up using social media and various video-chat platforms. Their commitment to their chosen career, close ties with teammates, and a desire for routine all provide a high level of motivation to players.

Yet, every distance-learning program comes with challenges. As with any web-based system, streaming and WiFi interruptions can occur. Baseball is a physical and social sport, and players are accustomed to face-to-face interaction with peers, instructors, and coaches. As nontraditional students, most international athletes have had limited exposure to independent learning. Novice language learners can work on building their English vocabulary, but with limited access to virtual classes they don’t have an immediate opportunity to get this new information into their long-term memory. Finally, athletes’ focus is on speaking and listening. Higher Standards Academy is addressing these challenges with a combination of distance learning and virtual classes. This provides players with the resources they need for continued success.

MiLB international athletes are not on a “traditional” academic path. Their professional careers demand that they learn to speak English better than they read and write it. Players’ listening and comprehension skills must be immediate. While commercial English language-learning programs exist, these are not workplace-specific for athletes or for baseball players in particular. Most commercial programs provide knowledge—a set of generalized vocabulary—but not the field-specific vocabulary athletes need, and they don’t include the skill-building use of the language. Higher Standards Academy has created a hybrid program that delivers baseball-specific vocabulary and phrases paired with virtual classes to concentrate on the skill-building of language.

Higher Standards Academy has been introducing technology into classes over the past three years, which has been critical to our success to date. We have created online programing to meet the needs of players that is still supported with live and virtual teaching. The human contact cannot be subtracted from athletes’ learning. In fact, it is imperative to their language acquisition, speaking proficiency, and overall language-learning success. Higher Standards Academy is agile, versatile, and committed to growth. This has made us ready and able to help teams and athletes make the immediate transition to distance learning amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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