Language learning, like many other things in life, is changing. A few days ago, we shared the first part of this blog post on New trends in learning English and now we bring you part two.
Personalised courses are another popular trend. A growing number of learners can’t attend regular courses two days a week, or even at the weekend, either for work or personal reasons. However, they still need to improve their English quickly. Although our group classes never have more than ten students and are tailored to the learners’ needs, NELC also offers language coaching where the learner has a personal teacher who focuses exclusively on the individual’s specific needs and objectives. From planning a presentation or conference call, to socialising with international colleagues, we aim to improve our learners’ ability to perform in all these areas. Of course, our learners come from different professional backgrounds but our teachers have a lot of experience of the business world and of what constitutes successful professional communication so we are well-equipped to interact on a level way beyond the nuts and bolts of the language. The days when a class was focused on the teacher are long gone. What is vitally important and valuable today is a communicative methodology that focuses entirely on the students’ needs.
This leads us to one of the most common difficulties experienced by speakers of a Romance language who are trying to communicate in English. Normally, non-native speakers tend to stick to the familiar expressions and grammatical structures that are closest to their own language. The problem with English, however, is that it incorporates elements from many different languages and often the Latin-based word will be completely inappropriate. A lack of familiarity dissuades non-native speakers from using common expressions like phrasal verbs or even the verb ‘to get’. This can also lead to difficulties understanding a conversation between native speakers, even though the learners’ speaking may be relatively fluent. Here at NELC, we aim to expand our learners’ repertoire, help them to use more natural expressions and, as a consequence, have a smoother interaction with their counterparts.
At NELC, we aim to promote a non-judgemental learning environment, which may be different from a more traditional experience of learning. In our activities, we simulate real situations, like making a business call, and instead of judging whether or not it is done ‘correctly’, the teacher provides support and feedback to help learners do it better. On a real call, the speaker may feel judged by their interlocutor, but if they have the chance to practise a similar situation in a supportive environment, they will be notably calmer in the real teleconference or interview.
For some time now, we’ve been noticing a growing demand for language auditing of company personnel. This means identifying the staff’s English communication needs and proposing strategies to address them. One of our recent experiences in this area was with a major law firm who asked us to do a language assessment for over 1,000 employees in Spain and around the world. This will give the company vital information on which to base future policies and decisions. More and more, companies are looking for a strategic partner to help them in this regard.
If you would like to hear the interview our partners, John Power and Cristina Pascual, gave on English Radio BCN, you can do so here.