Today when I asked the student I have been giving 1 to 1 English classes to for the last three weeks “How have you been progressing on the goals we set 3 weeks ago?” the above statement was her answer.
This is a professional who left their home country 20 years ago to study in the USA, but did not speak English much in their native country. Though this person has been in the US for 20 years, this person still feels ‘inferior’ in English, loses words, has to ask to repeat frequently and feels people do not understand because of a different accent.
The student went on to say, “Somehow your approach has helped me to improve more quickly than others. While we aren’t focusing on grammar or learning English as such, we are learning how to communicate more clearly and with confidence. Some of the things I have been doing to improve are really listening when someone else is talking. This means I am not thinking of what to say, but just thinking about what to say when it is my turn to talk! Anyhow, I realized that when I wasn’t really listening, I’d always have to ask to repeat, which made me feel the other person would think I don’t understand them or understand English, which is not true. I really am trying to be patient, listen to the person and not worry if I don’t know a word, slang or idiom. If I do, I realize I can either respond with my understanding or ask for clarification.
The other important thing is that I speak slower and focus on articulating my words. I was always afraid to talk slower because I did not want to make others feel I did not know English. But, actually, as I am speaking slower, but not too slow, and articulating more and focusing on clear pronunciation, people are understanding me more often the first time. They are also not asking me to repeat as often!
It has been going really well. Do you know that yesterday I had a meeting with two of the biggest managers in my company? In that meeting, I feel I communicated the with the most clarity and confidence I have ever had. I did not ask once to repeat and I know I could follow everything they say. I could always follow and understand, but because now I am really listening, I am ready to respond appropriately. I’m having fluent and productive conversations. I think I sound more confident to my managers, too! I’m also more social with my colleagues. Normally, I used to sit at my desk and not talk to anyone. Now, I am talking to a few colleagues who sit near me. Do you know I have learned about their family and interests? It makes me feel good because really I like to interact with people. Now that I’m more confident to speak more, I feel more relaxed.”
[End of Testimonial]
I am so humbled and inspired by this person and that I could help this person more than they ever dreamed possible. But, more than me ‘helping’ that person, really I am just facilitating the innate skill they already have inside and bringing that out. This person has always been able to do this, but needed the right mix of coaching and time to have it come together. I am happy for this person, their progress and the progress and self-learning yet to come!
Jennifer Kumar is a cross-cultural communication coach helping expats and non-native English speakers to communicate with more confidence and clarity in English with US Americans. While some may call it an English class, it is actually more of coaching around confidence boosters (read a case study) and communication strategies as most of the people she coaches have been speaking English for a long period of time. If you’d like to get in touch, she’s based in Salt Lake City and conducts classes in the City or online to you anywhere in the world regardless of time zone!