Are You An Expert/English Misfit?
Building a career and a family at the same time is challenging for most, especially for working Mothers who tend to be doing more juggling.
A popular survival strategy is to put some things on the back burner. For many German managers, who have enough English to muddle through, it is Business English that takes a back seat or lower priority
But what is so special about Business English anyway? Surely most educated managers have had 8 years or more of English at school, haven’t they?
Well that is true, most German speakers have an incredibly strong grammatical basis or foundation, making reading English a no brainer or easy.
The problem for many who have qualified or graduated in Germany 20-40 years ago is that they were not given the opportunity to actually speak in English or specifically – for business – practice ‘free speech’ in English.
3 Reasons why school English is not an indicator of how good your English is.
A) Classrooms of 30-35 students in state grammar schools or secondary schools are hardly the ideal breeding ground for discussion. The teachers’ hands are largely tied. The curriculum embraces literature more than it does occupational topics. Breakout groups would be possible but stressed teachers struggling to discipline their class effectively are reluctant to do this – too much hastle, disruption and noise.
B) By free speech, I do not mean ‘reading out loud’ followed by disrespectful ridicule from fellow students and the teachers themselves but actually having a structured, moderated discussion. Here fluency should be the priority, not grammar. This is what encourages young adults to find their own voice, to communicate freely in English – it draws their attention to the right words to make a convincing argument, to use phrases which reflect their personality and actively take part in a dialogue that is in line with their own opinions and values.
How can you expect people to draw a line in the sand and speak up for what they think is right in English at work, when their education system, does not reward real communication.
Someone that struggles in this learning environment certainly owes it to themselves to embrace a more practical approach to learning English.
More about that later
C) The German education system predominantly excludes native speaking experienced teachers from sharing their knowledge here, without taking a full time course to make their teaching qualification acceptable. So senior school students rarely get the opportunity to learn English from native speakers. So for fear of making mistakes, teachers tend to stay in the black or white/right or wrong safe haven of grammar and reading. Discussion would expose their English as being broken, old fashioned and uncertain.
Students are taught grammar rules with multiple choice tests, given vocabulary tests and even when they get the opportunity to write freely to analyze a text or picture, they soon learn that to get good grades, they have to write what they think their teacher will want to hear.
The result is broken English. Today is no surprise that students get more inspiration from lyrics and influencers than their English teachers.
So free speech is something that managers struggle with. They can survive – society expects them to be able to do that – but few managers can really feel comfortable or confident communicating in English at work.
Conventional business English lessons in meeting rooms help you to maintain your English but real progress is limited unless you have the willpower to work on your English independently. The current trend is apps like #Babbel or #Duolingo but in reality whilst they are great for getting you back into speaking English, they actually lull you into a false sense of security.
Apps can help you with words or vocabulary and that will make it easier to understand more in meetings, which is great. Unfortunately the likelihood of being confident enough to actually ‘speak up’ and contribute to business conversations in a constructive and convincing way is not the objective of most apps – where mass market mediocrity enables them to scale at users expense.
Some managers feel that they have left it too late to do anything about their English because they are too old, have no time, have already tried xyz, are no good at languages or (fill in your own reason) ….
The bottom line though, is that anybody can escape this trap. Believe me! Nobody has to play small. Nobody has to accept this situation as a status quo or as a given. It’s a status report, not a career killing verdict.
Having learned 5 languages auto didactically for my career whilst working full time in financial services, I needed to create a fiercely pragmatic approach that was fuelled by my thirst for knowledge.
Time to Rescue Your Expertise
I will soon be showing savvy managers how to get smart about improving their Business English in a book, so that they can discretely improve their English without anybody having to find out that English was ever a problem.
Experts will learn how to use exactly the right English to communicate professionally and effectively in any business situation with confidence.
If you want to discover how to create your own personal Business English programme enabling you to learn through knowledge and relationship building – boosting your Expertise in English step by step on a need to know basis, you’ll want to be the first to find out more about my book.
It’s a practical, slow but steady and sturdy method that allows you to balance work, home and your personal development without having to put yourself under additional time pressure.