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  • Writer's pictureShelley Purchon

Watch this video

Updated: Jun 25, 2021

..for a taste of how it feels for your non English speaking clients 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 you invest in English Unlocked communication training, the first thing your team will learn is how it feels to be on the receiving end of a language they can't understand. For that we use Spanish, a language which most British residents can't speak fluently.

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 this 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 Doctor'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.

How much could you understand? 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 our 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.

Book onto one of our training sessions

Click here to visit our Eventbrite page and book your place on a ticketed event.

Here are some of the skills we share-

We have over fifteen strategies to help in these situations. Some of the things we cover include-

  • 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 phrasal verbs

  • How to give your listener the processing time they need

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

simple but powerful techniques.

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 clients who are learning English. To find out what an English Unlocked training session consists of, click here.

bespoke training.

We liaise with each client to produce a version of the course which meets their needs. Does your team communicate over the phone? Do they use scripted questions? We can tailor the training to fit their experience. Sometimes we use a different Spanish example, for example our course for school teachers includes a Spanish role play of a parents' evening.

No substitute for an interpreter

This course is not designed to reduce the need for interpreters. They are just as essential as ever. The skills we share are to help you in situations where interpreters are not required. For advice on how to work with interpreters, click here.

Other things you can do

We help organisations to overcome language barriers in imaginative ways. Click here to read our full range of services. learning to modify your speech is just one of the things you can do to improve engagement with non English speaking clients.


This is what I was saying in the video.

"The problem is that your details aren't on my computer. Please write your details on this form, then bring it back to me. I'll look at it and put you on the system. Then you can have an appointment with the doctor. OK? Here's the form and here's a pen."

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