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Emma Valahu
Apr 01, 2022
In Contributor Articles
I'm going to save you a load of time and money. (You can thank me later 😉 ) How am I going to do this amazing thing? I'm going to tell you exactly how to achieve the level of English you need for effective communication in your job. Then you can get on with saving the planet! You have probably already spent quite a lot of time and money on English courses. Or you studied English at school (that was a long time ago, wasn't it!) And do you feel that you've achieved the level and confidence you want? Do you go into your meetings and presentations feeling confident? Are your communication skills in English what you need to get your business done effectively? Do you come out of your meetings thinking "Well, I handled that perfectly and I did it in English!"? If you answered 'Yes', fantastic! You can stop reading. If you answered 'No', then I hear you. Keep reading! The reason you haven't achieved the level of confidence and fluency that you want is that you've been learning in the wrong way. This is not your fault. Traditional language schools and the way languages are taught is school do not meet your needs. They don't even come close! That's why you need a new way, and why I have spent a long time creating a method that actually works. Of course you will also need hard work - you can't get away from that, sorry! Unfortunately, most people don't use this method because they have no idea about it or how to do it. And not only that... There are more reasons why people fail to achieve the level of skill in English that they so desperately want. They believe they can't make any more progress because they've been learning English since school. They think that if they watch Netflix or YouTube videos, they can learn more vocabulary and this will help them speak in their meetings at work. They tell themselves they don't have time because they're so busy at work They are stuck in the past with old fashioned ways of learning a language. All of these things are actually holding them back. They spend a lot of time doing the wrong things and feeling unsatisfied with the results. I like to think of building and advancing your English skills like a project. If you've ever worked on a big know that you have to manage that project. It won't get done randomly. A project has clear, defined steps. You don't move onto the next one until the previous one is complete. And this is what you must do with your English communication skills - project manage them. Here's how. Step 1: Define your end goal This is the most important step. You must have a defined end result that you want. It must be: Specific Measurable Achievable Relevant to your work Time bound In other words, SMART. "I want to improve my English" is NOT a well-defined goal. Why do you want to improve? What do you want to do better in English? When do you want to achieve it? Here is a well-defined goal: "I want to improve how I manage my meetings with my clients. I need to answer their questions fluently and convincingly, and sound professional. I need to deal with their concerns and convince them not to increase the scope of the work we have agreed to. I need to do this politely but firmly. I also need to address and update the board of directors. I need to improve my presentation skills and talk about my progress, the problems and the solutions. I need to be able to answer their difficult questions professionally, even if I don't immediately know the answer. I am going to allocate 2-3 hours a week to this project for 3 months." It's SMART. Step 2: Define the steps that will allow you to achieve your goal This is where most people go wrong. They have their goal but then stop. If you don't work out HOW you're going to achieve the outcome you want, you will fail. Then you will decide that you are never going to succeed, that you're no good, that you haven't got time.........etc. And you are back to square 1. To avoid all those negative thoughts, you must plan the HOW. And to do that, you need to ask questions. What do I need to be able to do? This can be difficult and so you should take your time here and think about how you use English at work. Possible answers for the goal above might be, introduce myself in an interesting and client-centred way paraphrase questions so I can be sure I have understood them use polite and diplomatic language to say 'No' be persuasive answer difficult questions when I don't have the answer give a logical update of my progress Can I do any of these things already? Consider what you can already do. You need to establish a foundation. And to do that you need to know what you have already got! For example, do you need to brush up a little on your personal introduction to clients? Can you use polite structures already? How many? Do you need more? Where are the gaps in my knowledge? In your meetings, take note of the times you felt like your English was letting you down. What exactly couldn't you say/do? These notes provide very valuable information for your plan. How can I fill the gaps in my knowledge? What resources have you already got? What can you find online? Do you know someone to practise with? Do you need to find a coach or a teacher? How can I practise? Do you have a friend who will practise with you? Use your phone to record yourself. Think about the conversations you have had in meetings. Write them down as dialogues. Try to improve the sentences/grammar etc using the resources you've got. Practise the dialogues out loud. Step 3: Put the steps you need to take into a logical order You're almost there! Your project plan is shaping up nicely! Don't stop here! The next step is to work out the most logical order for the steps above. Here is an example for part of the goal above: Personal introduction. Brush up my personal introduction for new clients. Write it out. Read it out loud. Ask my colleague for feedback. Practise saying it without looking at it. Paraphrasing questions. Write down the common questions that previous clients have asked. Work out how I can say them in another way to check understanding. I can use Google translate to help here. I can use 2 phrases to introduce my paraphrases: "Do you mean ....?" and "So you're asking about...?" Polite and diplomatic language. I feel least confident about this. I will check online and see what resources already exist for free. I need to find a teacher to help me out. I will learn 3-4 good grammatical structures for being polite and diplomatic and practise them in different scenarios. (e.g. I'm afraid that isn't practical/possible. Could you possibly...? That will be rather difficult.) Continue like this. Number each step until you have covered everything to achieve your overall goal. At the end, you should have a 'to do' list of actionable steps in a logical order all leading to your final goal. Step 4: Work through your steps one by one. When you take action on them one by one, you will achieve your goal. It's important not to skip a step in your list. If you do, you create a gap, and it is less likely that you'll achieve your goal. You will be able to see how long your learning is taking you, and you might need to reconsider your time frame. You will know when you feel comfortable and confident with one step. This means you are able to measure your progress. It's possible that you can't fill some of the gaps on your own. You will need to find someone who can help you fill them - a friend or a teacher. But this will be part of your plan already and not a surprise! You'll be able to deal with this both in terms of time and money when you get to that step. So, like you would manage a project at work, project manage your English learning. Take each step one at a time. Plan, take action, review, adjust, take action, review. By doing this, you build up systematically towards your final desired outcome. It all starts with a well-defined goal. Without that, it's like driving in the dark with no headlights - you're moving but you have no idea where you are going! Let me know in the comments what you think.
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Emma Valahu
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