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  • Writer's pictureShelley Purchon

What to expect

Updated: Jun 16, 2020

Have you enrolled on an English Unlocked communication skills course? This training is unlike anything else out there and you may be wondering what to expect. In this article I'll be explaining what we cover, along with some words from people who have already attended.

You are going to learn through first hand experience how it feels to be spoken to in a foreign language, and you are going to see for yourself that certain ways of speaking are far easier to understand than others. At the time of writing, no other training providers are doing anything quite like it, something I still can't quite believe.

You can expect to have a couple of a-ha moments, followed by some chances to practice. After that I'm going to change the way you look at the English language and open your eyes to how hard it can be for non-Anglophones. You are going to learn a lot and have some fun. Let me take you through it.

In your job do you ever have to get a message across to someone who has Limited English Proficiency? Then you are going to love this course because it is going to make your life easier. You will come away with lots of ideas of how you can manage those situations better, and your confidence will increase.

Even if this is something which you are already good at, you can expect to pick up a few new tips you hadn't thought of.

The first thing I'll do is speak to one of you in Spanish. I always choose a 'guinea pig' who can't speak Spanish at all. I'll be speaking fluently and I won't make any concessions to the fact that my listener is a non-Spanish speaker. I won't lie, it isn't a comfortable experience, but that is exactly the point. It puts you in the shoes of your non-Anglophone clients.

If you would like to see a short video of me doing this, there's one here.

Next comes what many people say is the most impactful bit of the training. I speak to my guinea pig again in Spanish, but this time I do it very differently.

In the quote above, Claire was one of the onlookers.

Like Claire you will see for yourself what a difference it makes if you slow down. But it isn't only about slowing down. I have a whole host of tips and tricks that you can use which will really open up the comprehensibility of your spoken English for people with Limited English Proficiency. That is why I call my company English Unlocked.

It is a delicate balance between speaking slowly and being patronising. We will look very specifically at all the different ways (yes there are several) that you can unwittingly patronise someone, and develop a nice slow way of speaking which doesn't condescend. I will be making use of mirrors.

Hate watching yourself speak? Don't worry, an alternative is available, but I do love my mirrors. Speaking into one gives you very instant and valuable feedback about how you enunciate. You may find (to your horror) that you were coming off as patronising without ever realising it.

There are few things more patronising than speaking to someone who has an intermediate English level as though they were a beginner. That's why one of the things we'll cover is how to pitch your delivery just right.

Once we have nailed the basics you will have chance to practice this new skill with a partner. If you are enrolled on the extended version of the course, which also covers telephone skills, you will get chance to practice that kind of communication too. You will sit back to back just like these lovely ladies, and like them you may find yourself twisting around in your chair. Communicating is much harder without visual cues.

Are you among the 62% of Brits who can't speak a second language? Chances are you're blissfully unaware of all the aspects of the English language which trip non-Anglophones up. If that is the case, the final part of the course will be a real eye opener for you.

You're going to learn a lot but don't worry too much about writing everything down - you will be getting a fact sheet to take away along with your attendance certificate.

I hope this article has answered your questions about what to expect from your English Unlocked training session. I've written it for people who have booked onto one of my courses so that they'll know what to expect. If this doesn't apply to you and yet you've read all the way to the end, perhaps you should consider booking a session? Get in touch, I would love to hear from you. I provide training for organisations big and small, and occasionally for individuals too. You can find my contact details at the bottom of the page.

Available as a webinar

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, this course is now available as a webinar.

"This was a practical and useful webinar which promoted self awareness and practical ways of communicating with second language speakers to enable effective communication and parity of status." Karen Deck, Secondary education teacher, Northumberland.

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