How to succeed in the international workplace when English is not your first language

You are outgoing, confident, and witty. Your colleagues always compliment you on your speaking abilities and presentation skills.

But now that you’re working in an English language environment, everything feels off.

You’re less enthusiastic about speaking up during meetings or volunteering for presentations. In fact, you’ve become the opposite of the social person you used to be and you’re worried about your accent or self-conscious about pronunciation. When a big part of your job is about interpersonal skills this is a problem.

A few workplace communication challenges you probably face include:

Continue reading “How to succeed in the international workplace when English is not your first language”

7 great idioms every language learner needs to know

One of my most motivated students is an advanced ESL student, and we work exclusively on idioms. She’s obsessed with idioms, so much so that now I’m obsessed with idioms. I collect them like people collect stamps or seashells. Every time I hear one or use one that she and I have not yet talked about, I type it into my notepad on my phone. So, by the time I see her each week, I have a treasure trove of idioms to share with her.

We get giddy talking about idiomstheir history, their usage, how they differ between her native language and English, and how the idioms differ between American English and British English. Needless to say, it’s a lot of fun for a couple of lovers of English.

With that in mind, here is a handful of phrases that she and I recently discussed.

Continue reading “7 great idioms every language learner needs to know”

Why learning this one English tense will make you sound like a pro

What is typically one of the first tenses taught in English classes but one of the last to be fully and correctly integrated into speaking and writing?

It’s the often misunderstood (and sometimes dreaded) present perfect tense.

From the perspective of an ESL teacher who speaks English as her native language, the correct use of the present perfect tense sets you apart from other ESL learners.

In fact, it’s a critical component in making you an advanced English speaker.

Continue reading “Why learning this one English tense will make you sound like a pro”

Wie Sie bei englischsprachigen Terminen glänzen – 6 einfache Tipps

Meeting auf Englisch

Sie sind perfekt für das Meeting mit ihren englischsprachigen Kollegen oder Geschäftspartnern vorbereitet, haben alle Fakten im Kopf und sind Ihre Präsentation ein Dutzend mal im Kopf durchgegangen – doch als Sie an der Reihe sind, ist Ihr Vertrauen in Ihre Sprachkenntnisse verschwunden?  

Sie kennen das? Dann ergeht es Ihnen wie vielen anderen.

Kein Wunder, kommen doch zwei Dinge zusammen, die für deutsche Mitarbeiter in internationalen Teams das Gespräch erschweren: Zum einen ist es die Aufregung, die manche insbesondere vor wichtigen Terminen erfasst. Hinzu kommt die Herausforderung, die Gesprächsinhalte kompetent und korrekt in der Fremdsprache Englisch vorzutragen. Doch es gibt ein paar einfache Techniken, die Sie für Gespräche oder Vorträge auf Englisch bestens vorbereiten. Wir zeigen Ihnen, was zu bedenken ist.

Continue reading “Wie Sie bei englischsprachigen Terminen glänzen – 6 einfache Tipps”

Performance Issue or Language Barrier? How to Know.

language barrier

Recruiting or managing international talent is an important component of today’s global workforce. Large multinational corporations that have a strong base of employees and managers that are local to their region also tend to have less turnover and higher morale. However, when fitting all the disparate people and teams together, the issue of language skills inevitably comes up. While English may be the lingua franca of many large corporations, managers will find varying degrees of proficiency that may or may not be masking larger issues.

This makes employee evaluations one of the more difficult aspects of the job because it can often be difficult to tell whether the issues holding a person back are performance-related or simply due to a language barrier. In this article we’ll look at ways to discern between the two.

Continue reading “Performance Issue or Language Barrier? How to Know.”

5 Good Reasons Why We Should All Care About Employee Engagement

Employee engagement has been a hot topic among HR experts for at least a decade now, yet Gallup reports that about 70 percent of employees are still not fully engaged in the workplace. The Society for Human Resource Management found that 55 percent of employees are not engaged or are apathetic about their work, and another 26 percent are actively disengaged. Forty-eight percent of employees are actively seeking new jobs and careers.

Does this mean it does not matter if managers treat employee engagement as a higher or lower priority?

Continue reading “5 Good Reasons Why We Should All Care About Employee Engagement”

5 Simple Rules for Mastering the Difference between Exact and Exactly

I love it when there are similarities between the English language and the native language of the student I am teaching. This happens sometimes with my German-speaking students. We are both excited because we know the word, grammar construction, or idiom that is being introduced is more likely to stick since it is the same or similar in German.

But learning English can’t always be rainbows and unicorns.

There are differences between German and English that can’t be ignored.
One such difference is the use of the word genau in German and exact/exactly in English. In German, genau can be either an adverb and adjective.

Continue reading “5 Simple Rules for Mastering the Difference between Exact and Exactly”

Wie Sie beim Small Talk mit Engländern und Amerikanern glänzen können

„How do you do?“ – wer wurde nicht schon auf diese und ähnliche Weise von einem englischen oder amerikanischen Gesprächspartner begrüßt? Die Antwort darauf fällt vielen jedoch schwer, da wir in Deutschland Begrüßungen dieser Art kaum gewohnt sind. Anstatt eines lockeren „I’m fine, how are you?“ tendieren wir eher dazu, die Frage viel zu ausführlich zu beantworten. Dabei übersehen wir den lockeren und eher oberflächlichen Kern dieser Eingangsfrage; einem Klassiker des Small Talks. Wenn Sie sich ab und zu in der englischsprachigen Welt bewegen ist es deshalb ratsam, einige passende Antworten und Small Talk-Themen auf Lager zu haben. Wir geben Ihnen hilfreiche Tipps und Anregungen, wie Sie sich erfolgreich auf dem Small Talk-Parkett bewegen.

Continue reading “Wie Sie beim Small Talk mit Engländern und Amerikanern glänzen können”

Does Your Remote Team Lack Trust? Here’s How To Build Some.

remote team

Trust is a main ingredient in any manager’s recipe for a successful team. When you throw in a lack of face-to-face interactions, time differences, and the geographic distances of remote teams, trust is even more vital.

Muhammad Yasir and Abdul Majid detail how concepts of trust can fit into the different stages of building a “virtual organization” or remote team.

In their article, “A methodical study of the role of trust at various development stages of virtual organizations” they fit trust into Dr. Bruce Tuckman’s theory of team development. Tuckman outlined four stages of group development:

Continue reading “Does Your Remote Team Lack Trust? Here’s How To Build Some.”

What Good Managers Understand About Successful Cross-Border Teams

One thing good managers understand is norms. They establish them at the start, monitor them throughout, and quickly address bad ones when they develop.

But what are norms in a team context?

Norms are standards of behavior. They make teamwork easier and smoother, but they can also lead to conflict if individual members violate them.

Why is it important for team managers to understand group norms?

Continue reading “What Good Managers Understand About Successful Cross-Border Teams”