ESL Tips: How To Be Better Understood

Rachael Nemeth
Post 04
Co-founder, CEO
August 12, 2020

Support your team that speaks limited English in 3 simple ways.

Correct Speaking Errors Respectfully

Is it ok to correct your team's English errors? Sure! If they are asking you to! First things first, though. What's the wrong way to correct errors?'

Jose says: "We need mucho onions."
You try to correct him: "We need a lot of onions."
Jose responds: "Exactly! We need mucho onions!"

This is called recasting. Recasting is replacing an error that a speaker made with the correct answer. The problem is recasting errors doesn't lead to understanding what you did wrong. That's because employees in ESL training can't easily identify that they made an error in the first place. They think you're repeating what they said.

Here's a better way to correct speaking errors. Turn the error into a question.

Jose says: "We need mucho onions."
You respond with a question: "Mucho onions?"
Jose thinks and then responds: "Hmm. We need alotta onions!"

Correcting errors by turning them into a question, creates a healthy dialogue. It leads to self-correction and higher language retention.

Inspire Speaking Confidence

Show your team you have confidence in their ability to speak English. No matter what level of English you're at, it can be intimidating to try to speak English.

Avoid interrupting your trainee. Employees learning English are taking their time because they're processing.

Avoid finishing their words or sentences. Ask for clarification. This shows your English learning employee that you're listening. Ask your team member to repeat or simply express that you don't understand. By the way, you're allowed to say, "I don't understand."

Give feedback. Let your team know how they're doing. Giving feedback on English performance can be used as a basis for improvement. For beginners, give them a high five, say "Good job", or even "Good English." For advanced speakers, you can try feedback like "Nice work!", or even  "Good word."

You Talk Too Fast

There are 3 reasons that English learners don't understand you.

1. You use too much jargon or slang.

2. You're not pausing enough.

3. You're talking too fast.

Here is a simple way to learn how to slow down. You should be speaking 50% slower than you normally do. Slowing down is not going to add more time to your day. That extra 10 seconds is still more efficient than having to repeat yourself over and over again. Say what you need to say, but just say it 50% slower. You'll see more light bulbs go on.

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