Shownotes: English Coach Podcast – Living the Language
I always encourage my people to use everything at their disposal – to diversify their sources of learning – with books, targeted-courses, apps, films – and most of all by interacting with people – talking to people… And – while we are on that topic, I also implore you to check out the remote learning possibilities that are available to you, they work, and you can for many reasons, especially now – try them out risk free.
Well hello there – welcome to another episode of the English Coach Podcast. This is a trailer episode, number 18 in the series aimed at informing, inspiring, or simply entertaining you during the run-up to season 2. All things remaining equal, season 2 is still scheduled for release in May. This episode today begins with a short feature – another story in the life of the protagonist – and ends with a bit of insight into an aspect of the adult learning experience – that might be of interest to you. .
Sven was a very successful leader of moderately sized subsidiary of an international company – specializing in luxury goods. His subsidiary alone had an annual turnover of about 10.3 Million Euros and employed 19 team members. Sven approached me one day for English Training in support of his leadership role. His goal was typically to serve not only his international clients but also – in his own words – to manage, lead and inspire his growing team. He also wanted to personally represent his company at the numerous trade fairs he attended, and not have to leave that all up to his interns or younger sometimes less experienced staff. By all indications this competent successful manager tall in stature, well-dressed, – and absolutely oozing with all the signs of success – representative of his company – was interested in working with a personal trainer – who would help him – with what was to him a personal matter. Sven’s whole appearance was indicative of the rewards he enjoyed, from having had a successful career serving HIS local market – surely this success was fueled by commitment. He obviously knew what it meant – to reap the rewards of a little hard work, a little forward thinking – and enough commitment to stick to the plan. I thought to myself, it would not at all be difficult to convince this promising client – what a well-designed course of studies aimed at preparing him to better articulate these skills also internationally – would be worth to him.
He had the benefit of learning Russian or French in school. English was only occasionally visited from time to time during his formative years – working his way all the way up through the company from being apprentice – while attending part time business school and while on vacation. Sven still enjoyed an enviable position – all perfectly attainable, without international skills whatsoever – HE knew his company inside out – he knew the products inside out – and the company benefited daily – from the numerous personal relationships with local suppliers, partners and long-term customers that he had personally nurtured over the past few years. His subsidiary had recently been voted – global center of excellence within his organization, and they were at the time in the process of establishing two new departments, focused on quality assurance and user experience for a new software product. I have no idea what that product was – but his subsidiary would be facing a significantly more diverse and international group of players – individuals on both the supplier and consumer side of his organization.
In some cases however, success breeds a disproportionate amount of anxiety, that’s a whole different story – at any rate – the anxiety most strongly felt by Sven – was that he might not be able to articulate as gracefully – or inspire the same confidence in his role, as he did in his native language. What would happen if he was called to do the same thing in English?
There wasn’t much that I could do to allay all of these fears all at once. Who knows, maybe he needed to dwell on these fears so to speak to stay motivated. A balancing act of sorts. I couldn’t do much more about that really – than respectfully acknowledge these tensions while all the time illustrating that it didn’t necessarily mean – having to flee to the bathroom every time the telephone displays +44 displayed on an incoming call.
As a personal trainer of English for Work, my approach was actually first to address that sense of power loss – whether real or imagined. Then to show clearly what’s been shown to work for others – list all the specific activities that he had to carry out, prioritize them in HIS order of importance and then proceed accordingly.
I’d have to include true to life measurable results in his lesson plan.
The ability to present relevant convincing quantitative as well as qualitative success matrices is a major part of my work as a trainer of working adults. This is my balancing act – as different clients prefer to rely on different success matrices – depending of course – on context.
Anyway to cut a long story short this approach worked well for the most part.
This somewhat self-imposed sense of dread was however, always lurking in the background. Every week there were new horror stories – the last of which was how an intern – though less equipped –was better able to fluently answer an important question during a conference call about user experience, and how it made him feel……
Frustrations led to all kinds of spur of the moment comments in classes like:
“Warum muss ich das überhaupt tun, wir sind ja doch in Deutschland oder – und wie kann ich das machen, wenn mein Englisch so schlecht ist?”
My answer was always pretty much the same…
“Wir wollen doch Exportweltmeister bleiben oder?” – und – “Niemals – niemals sagen ‘mein Englisch ist schlecht.’ Sagt, dass ich die Sprache lerne – wenn überhaupt…”
In other words – If at all, say that you are learning the language. In this respect, that fact alone makes you way better than vast majority of the native English speakers, some of whom you might be called to serve – who themselves perhaps cannot, or don’t speak any foreign language whatsoever. Maybe the people you talk to are not even themselves native speakers at all. So there we have it another story of the Protagonist, this time embodied – by the industrious Sven.
TRAINER INSIGHTS – 1/2 – Learning Sources
All stories of the Protagonist are works of fiction.
Whatever the case however, by now you know – I hope, that some of the frustrations that you perhaps feel are also felt by others – you are not alone. There is no one way to both manage these fears and achieve your learning goals. The most effective approach will quite likely be different for everyone. I always encourage my people to use everything at their disposal – to diversify their sources of learning – with books, targeted-courses, apps, films – and most of all by interacting with people – talking to people… Naturally Private-trainers can also be helpful, and so are free-time activities, coaches, travel, sports, art, the internet and cultural events – Living the Language. Many of these things are easily available and free of charge. Language learning is vast – endless – and to be honest, grammar puzzles, and abstract vocabulary lists alone – will only take you as far as you expect.
Relevance of content and context are perhaps the only sure things that will help to keep you on the right path – and remember the things that you learn – these things will keep you talking on topics that are of interest to you. One simple thing that you can do in class with your trainer is to pick a topic to talk about it. If words are missing your trainer – being bilingual if you are lucky enough – should be able to quickly give you these translations that you need – in a way that keeps the living conversation going. Write these words down. For the next class, simply bear in mind that the first thing you will do is to talk about the thing you discussed in the last class.
Now, this is not the place to deeply discuss methodology, but a simple technique like that has been shown to work and it is in strong agreement with proven training methodology. I’ll give you another tip. Don’t worry about the popular narrative that claims, that only the target language should be spoken in class, only people who do not speak your language say that – now this is paid time that we are talking about – a quick translation helps to keep the flow of the conversation going, and does much more help than harm – by allowing you to quickly find the fluency that you need.
The story of the protagonist continues – and I hope you found it insightful or even inspiring; again, you are not the only one facing these challenges. Performing in a foreign language is a daunting task, but it’s manageable – with a little help with shaping the basics – as they apply to you personally and your purpose for investing the time and energy. Tools and tips that work for others go a long way.
This is another Trailer Episode of The English Coach Podcast – Living the Language. It’s a reflective episode number 18 – broaching the question “What Does Customized Language Training Really Mean?” The episode was self-sponsored, brought to you by www.TrainingTree.de/podcast .
And for the English Learners among us, – feel free to listen again – and read along while you listen using the full version of the shownotes. You can find the shownotes by visiting the podcast page, or by finding it listed under the news icon. There you’ll also find links there to other articles in the series that might be useful or simply interesting to you such as – DIY English (auf Deutsch). Looking Fwd.
TRAINER INSIGHTS – 2/2 – Customized English Learning Content
It‘s only now after more than a decade of training, that I have the confidence to say that I can indeed deliver specialized English training for individuals and firms. Participants include clients in many sectors – light, heavy and high-tech industries. That means Lessons in English for Work – to seriously structured logical thinking personalities who aren’t so easily “sold fluff for facts”.
As far as customized English Learning content is concerned, negotiated content is best. That suggests inclusiveness; however I suspect that a top-down approach is usually better for establishing a starting basis. It’s a common fact that every company considers itself on some level to be unique. Training content must exhibit the same uniqueness – be actively endorsed from the top – and clearly aligned with the individual company’s objective – for it to be called customized English learning content.
The successful execution of such however – calls for bottom-up engagement. The trainer is caught in the middle – so to speak. More positively put, the trainer gets to benefit from a fair amount of creative tension in this space.
So what does that all really mean? Some of it was illustrated in the previous story of the Protagonist.
It all comes down to delivering clearly relevant and measurable results – specifically aligned with individual or the company objectives. This is actually similar from place to place but different for everyone. In order to accomplish that – department heads, team leads middle management and naturally also the Human Resources have to be actively involved. This helps to mold the whole training initiative into a project format – with time frames, benchmarks, quality checks, and a clearly verifiable Return on Investment. Naturally the personalized solution for you or your team begins with personal contact – that brings with it some kind of gap analysis usually in the form of a level check – a look at where you are or what you can already do, where you want to be and in the best case – a little insight for your potential trainer into why.
It is not only unreasonable to call in a trainer and say teach, but it also actually sets the whole project up for failure.
The bottom-up approach also has its place, but features more prominently during the training itself – because this is where buy-in so to speak happens. With a general basis of the training initiative in hand, the course participants themselves have to be repeatedly activated – as the learning goals set out are interpreted and reinterpreted contextually every day before every lesson.
The great thing about working on a project basis when delivering English Training for Work – is that all parties involved work with a clear set of goals. These overall goals reflect exactly what the relevant themes are, specific to each area of work.
The notion of customised-negotiated-learning-content is not at all new to me – and features prominently in every offer. A kind of learning contract is vital – and should form the basis of any course of adult learning – not because adults need more rules or performance pressure – but because both parties – trainer and trainee should be clear about the direction of every hour invested. Each party should have a clear sense of what progress looks like going forward, and a sense of accomplishment in retrospect.
Adult course participants and the sponsoring firms are a well aware of what their own time is worth, with some luck, they are also aware of what the costs or losses in time and resources look like – of not mastering the target skills.
Each learning project is different, and truth be told, this also helps to keep my life interesting. I owe a debt of gratitude to all the individuals who have taken part in English training courses with me over the years. This number by now runs into the hundreds. I also owe a similar debt of gratitude to all the people involved with helping to organise the groups.
The question as to what “Customized Language Training Really Means” has arisen over the past few months, chiefly through reflection on my own practice, from seeing the many offers on the market, and from my own knowledge as to what is actually deliverable and how.
The human being, together with human factors are always the critical interface.
In concluding top-down can mean active involvement in the shaping the said customized content with an eye on a ROI, or just hands off financing of the training initiative, as some kind of incentive token for staff. I prefer the former as it’s far less risky.
So what informs my assessment? Firstly many years of experience… Secondly a current active and representative sample of course participants from various places. My cohort of class participants includes individuals employed in logistics – from physical delivery of goods to the maintaining of complex delivery and tracking network infrastructure and resource planning – extending from software developers, to network administrators, to the people, occupied with laying Fiber-optic cables – civil works forming the very infrastructure of these networks. My assessment is also informed by a few failures.
Naturally also by various studies in the field (Person-CV-2020).
My name is Ian Antonio Patterson, and this is my Podcast.
With a small win is always a good way to begin…
Feel free to check out the shownotes for this episode at www.trainingtree.de/podcast.
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bye for now =)
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Character: the Protagonist, Sven: Photo by LinkedIn Sales Navigator on Unsplash