• Shelley Purchon

Watch this video

Updated: May 3

..for a taste of how it feels for people who have Limited English Proficiency when they are listening to you. Scroll down to watch two videos, and see for yourself what a huge difference it makes when someone speaks an unknown language slowly and clearly.

If I come into your business to train staff how to modify their speech for non English speakers, they need to know how it feels to be on the receiving end of a language they can't understand. For that I use Spanish (I can speak Spanish fluently because I spent most of my twenties in Madrid.)

You're going to watch two videos of me speaking Spanish.

In the first one, I'm making no concessions whatsoever to the fact that (presumably) you can't speak my language. In the second one, I change the way that I communicate. See for yourself what a difference it makes.

You'll need some context.

Imagine that you have moved to Spain, and you've fallen ill. You've come to your local Dr's surgery - you've never been here before. You wrote down your name for the receptionist and asked for a cita (it means appointment.) She fiddled on the computer for a moment and now she's telling you something. What is it?

Click on the video and do your best to understand.

Well? How much could you understand? Did you hear the word cita? Can you guess what I'm saying? If so, how confident is your guess? Confident enough to take action?

Now watch me do it differently.

Could you understand me better this time? (If you want to see how you did, scroll down to the bottom of this article to find out what I said.)

Why was I so much easier to understand in the second video?

I spoke slowly and clearly, but that's not all. If this were one of my training events, we would now move on to a discussion of the tricks and techniques I was using to enable you, a non native speaker of Spanish, to understand me. Here are some of the things that you would learn-

  • How to declutter your speech

  • The importance of clear word boundaries

  • The value of silence

  • A more intentional use of facial expressions, gestures and body language

  • Why phrasal verbs confuse non native English speakers, and how to spot them.

  • The problem with using idioms and metaphors

  • How to give your listener the processing time they need

  • When to rephrase, and when it's better not to.

Speaking slowly and clearly isn't a difficult skill, but it's amazing how few people can do it well.

The techniques I pass on are simple and powerful. Seeing first hand how it works in Spanish can be a light bulb moment for some front line staff who hadn't realised that they could make things so much easier for those with Limited English Proficiency. To find out what an English Unlocked training session consists of, click here.

I can match my example to the organisation I'm in.

As you've seen from the videos, it's easier to understand an unknown language when you are familiar with the context. Props help too. I can liaise with the person who's asked me to provide the training and sometimes we use a situation which is specific to their work place. For example if I'm training school teachers, I can role play a parents' evening in Spanish.

A chance to practice.

When we've spoken about the techniques, I hand it over to them. As they practice the skills they've learned, I circulate providing tailor made feedback to each pair. It makes for a very hands on and interactive training event, and staff take away skills that they can start using straight away.

Other training by English Unlocked

Interpreters are an expensive resource. How to work effectively with an interpreter is a half day course which will show your staff how to make the most of interpreters, recognise competence in interpreters, and work in harmony with them.

English Unlocked is based in the North East of England, but both courses are available as a webinar.

Please get in touch.

I'd be very happy to speak to you and answer any questions. You can contact me by phone (07786003429) or send an email to shelleypurchon@gmail.com

This is what I was saying in the video.

I repeated it just to be on the safe side-

"The problem is that your details aren't on my computer. Please write your details on this form. Bring it back to me tomorrow, I'll look at it and put you on the system. Tomorrow you can have an appointment with the doctor. OK?"


get in touch





Based in Newcastle Upon Tyne.

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