When you are learning English for business there will come a time where you are using you new skill in a business meeting. The meeting could be online via Skype, on the phone or in person, it could be a presentation and it can be tough! But do not worry, the challenges are something a lot of people go through and they are not something to be embarrassed about. In this blog we look at some of the issues around asking people to slow down and help you understand.
The Same Thing Twice
What a lot of people do when asked to repeat something because someone doesn’t understand is say the same thing again. This is really no help at all. They think you simply may not have heard them properly but the real reason to ask them to repeat is that you didn’t understand the terms or vocab they used. It is important to state this when asking them to repeat. It is perfectly OK to say “sorry, I don’t understand that phrase, can you explain” rather than saying “sorry, I didn’t get that”
People from different parts of any country will speak differently. But people learning English who live in different countries will also speak differently. So how someone speaks can be a really big challenge in a business meeting. It may be you are talking to a English company but you find the accent very hard to understand. It is not offensive to politely say “I am very sorry, I find your lovely accent hard to understand”. You can complement them on it and ask where they are from and most people will be happy to talk about their home town and help you understand them. It may be useful to ask any colleagues before the meeting about any strong accents so you can prepare a little or have them be ready to help you if you get stuck.
Details and Notes
There are certain points that come up in meetings that are important. it might be an e mail address or a website, it could be a phone number or some important meeting points. It is really important you are confident you have the correct details in this situation. Do not be afraid to ask the person to slow down while you write it all down and then confirm the details. On online meetings you can ask someone to simply write these details in the chat window to make sure they are correct. But getting it wrong because you didn’t ask to clarify could cause problems later on. Be confident and make sure you have the right details.
Most business meetings would benefit from everyone slowing down and making sure all the point are covered properly. It is important you are feel confident to ask other team members or clients to slow down so you can understand them properly. You are learning a new language and it is something to be proud of, but you cannot learn it all from the beginning. Most people will be happy to go over anything and help support you, and that bit of extra time is far better than a list of confused notes and mistakes because you chose not to say say you didn’t understand.
It may seem silly but music can help when learning English just as much as movies can. Singing can also help make you happy and singing is very healthy even if you don’t think you are very good at it.
Singing and Vocab
Most popular songs are sung with a wide range of both good and bad pronunciation. You can listen to one song and understand what they are singing about then another song comes on and it makes no sense at all. This is why it can be so helpful, well partly. By listening to vocab sung in songs by all sorts of different voices and styles you will build up your experience with those words. The great thing with the internet is that you can look up the words any time. So sing along, learn the words if you can but check online so you know what the words are and what they mean. It can be a great way to not only learn new words but learn new slang and regional words too.
Singing and music can really help with happiness and even during a learning period a music break can help you study a lot better. Obviously playing really loud music while trying to follow one of our online English lessons isn’t going to work but you can pause the lesson if you need a rest and sing a long to a song with English lyrics as a break. Singing is also proven to be very good for your health, so having a good sing can have many benefits.
Sings to Help You Remember
Another great way to use singing is to help you remember vocabulary and other parts of the English language. You may find it hard to remember a set of verbs or just a few new words. If you put them to the tune of your favourite song and sing it all day you will find it far easier to remember them for your next lesson.
Watching movies in English is certainly very helpful and should be something you do as often a you can but why not mix things up a bit and bring some English speaking music into your learning. There are lots of places to hear music but YouTube may be a good free place to start. Also apps like Spotify work very well. You can also make playlists for friends who are learning English too and challenge each other to work out what the words all mean.
Learning English can be tough but it can also be fun and adding music, movies, games and more will really help you learn more and learn faster.
Whatever country you are in you have probably heard about Britain leaving the EU. It is a very complex situation and people learning English with a view to working or studying in the UK or with people from the UK may find it useful to understand a bit more about it. Some people are very passionate about this subject and can get angry about different sides of the argument. It is really important to be careful about discussing this topic with people from the UK at work or other places. However, understanding some of the key terms used can be very useful!
Here is a short list of the main vocabulary and terms used when talking about Brexit. Understanding and being able to use these terms will make understanding Brexit a lot easier.
When the UK joined the EU it agreed to all the rules and Article 50 is part of the agreement that allows any country to leave the EU. An article is simply part of an agreement like a chapter of a book.
This simply means that the UK will leaving the European Union with no agreement relating to trade or anything else. This is an extreme situation and one that many people fear while others feel it would be OK.
The WTO is the World Trade Organisation. This organisation sets trade fees that countries who do not have a trade agreement use. It is a base line way of doing business with any country when no discussions and agreements are made. Often WTO rules are more expensive than trade deals agreed between countries so buying and selling with countries under the WTO rules costs more.
Transition means change and this period of time after the UK leaves the EU was agreed to help both sides plan how their relationship would work. For the transition period to be started the UK would need to agree the plan Theresa May had negotiated with the EU. During this period the UK could not have any kind of say in any EU laws but would still have to abide by the existing rules.
This is one a lot of people have heard of but most people do not understand. At the moment Ireland is split into two countries; Northern Ireland which is part of the UK and The Republic of Ireland which is a separate country. At the moment there is no border between the two countries so goods and people can move freely. Because the Republic of Ireland is in the EU and wants to stay there there is a lot of confusion about if there should be a border once the UK leaves the EU. The backstop is a an agreement between the UK and EU that there will be no Irish border during the transition period while a solution is found. It is a very contentious issue and one that it is best to avoid talking about.
Brexit is very complex but it will be an important part of UK history and whatever happens will affect living an working in the UK for millions of people for many years to come. Learning about it while learning English may be useful.
If you are living in the UK and learning English or if you have access to UK TV online then these Christmas TV shows are great for learning English. TV and Movies are a brilliant way to help support your online English lessons and this Christmas there are some really useful ones.
Strictly Come Dancing
This classic British TV show is on Christmas day. It may not be something everyone likes but it is very popular in Britain. The reason it is good for learning English is because the judging panel all have different accents but there is also some very traditional English spoken throughout too. It uses a range of different voices and it great for picking up general spoken English.
Michael McIntyre Christmas Special
This comedian does speak very fast during his show and this can be a really good test of your English skills. He also uses a lot of modern vocabulary but not slang. If you can understand what he is saying when he is speaking quickly then you are doing very well.
Call The Midwife
This is a very old fashioned TV show set in the past. It can be very good to learn formal English and a much more traditional way of speaking. There is almost no slang on it and the grammar is very good. Not many people speak like this anymore but it is still very good to learn from.
This is a soap opera that is set in East London. It is full of slang and strong London accents. Words like “water” are pronounced without the “t” sound for example. It is a very useful show to learn how to understand people from London but it is important you do not copy it all when trying to learn how to say things properly.
The Great British Bake Off
This is very much like Strictly Come Dancing in that it’s a very popular British competition based TV show. It is good for learning English because, once again, there different presenters and contestants all have different accents and use different dialects. By watching the show you can get some feel for how different people speak English from different parts of the UK. This can be very useful if you are planning on working in the UK.
If you cannot watch these shows over Christmas don’t worry. Most of them are available online and there are lots of seasons of most of these. Have fun!