| Influential English
Think back to a pleasant childhood memory & conjure up as much as you can. What do you remember of it? Is it the visual scene, the smells, do you have feelings about it? You probably do all but one or two will be stronger than the others. This idea of 'channels' through which we view the world comes from Neuro-Linguistic Programming – the 'Psychology of Personal Excellence'.
The five sensory systems that you visualise the world through are:
|V - Visual language- Sight
A - Auditory language - Hearing
K - Kinaesthetic language - Touch & internal feelings
O - Olfactory language - Smell
G - Gustatory language - Taste
The language one uses can reveal your preferred channels. Categorise the following words & expressions into the VAKOG categories:
I see what you mean.
Let me get a handle on it.
It's a tasty proposition.
It's all a question of taste.
It's loud in here - I can't hear myself think
If you could see it in a different light....
I heard from Ben - he sent me an email.
You haven't seen anything yet! .
From my point of view,....
Gosh, she's got an axe to grind.
From my standpoint....
I can't see the forest for the trees.
The incident left a sour taste in my mouth.
The plan stinks!
Try & see it my way.
It's a piece of cake.
That smells a bit funny.
Savour the moment.
I can't put my finger on it.
We'll see it through together.
That rings a bell.
You're fail to see what I mean.
Ah, music to my ears - tell me again.
I smell a rat.
They're really not on the same wavelength.
She can't see further than her nose.
I'm hearing you.
Sell the shares - I can smell blood.
We don't see eye to eye on this. She won't come. She's got cold feet.
I've lost my taste for it.
Let's walk through the lesson.
He's got a good nose for this job.
There are suggested answers further down the page.
Knowing the preferred channels of people you talk to can help you become a more effective communicator. One application in the business world is to have lists of the words & expressions by the phone & if you know the preferred channel of your customer, you would use the relevant list & this would then help you to be on the same wavelength & make the sale that much easier. An interesting idea.
Listen out to people speaking around you & try it out. The words we choose to use mean much more that their face value. Use the activity above in the classroom & see what your students think. A nice way of introducing/reviewing language & passing on communication skills.
Two books which look at NLP & then take it into the EL classroom are:
In Your Hands – NLP in ELT : Jane Revell & Susan Norman (Saffire Press)
There is a nice questionnaire in the above book which helps you decide which channels you use. Great for class use before getting into the vocabulary focus.
Handing Over – NLP-based activities for language learning (Saffire Press)
There is a lot more to Neuro-Linguistic Programming so do check it. A couple of excellent references:
Introducing NLP Neuro-Linguistic Programming - Joseph O'Connor, John Seymour (HarperCollins)
Training with NLP: Skills for Trainers, Managers and Communicators -
Joseph O'Connor, John Seymour (HarperCollins)
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Quite a few of the professionals that we teach have to make presentations in English & there are quite a few books around to help us out on this. 'Effective Presentations' by Jeremy Comfort (OUP) is one of these:
Presentations, as with meeting & negotiations in the business arena, are areas which learners experience in their own languages & can bring a lot of experience with them to carrying out the task in English. For those that are good at these in their own language, certain skills are certainly transferable, but for those who feel weak, the focus on them in English can transfer back into the tasks in their own language. Although we are language teachers, it is always rewarding when we can help out with general development of non-language areas.
Most would agree that the following considerations would go into the effective preparation of a presentation:
- audience, general style & timing
- the general content
- the beginning
- the main arguments, linking & techniques used
- the conclusion
- handling questions
- the audio-visuals used
- non-verbal communication - body language
A checklist like this to work through is vital when preparing, & again when assessing presentations.
An important aspect of giving a presentation is not only what one says but how one says it. This includes the non-verbal signals given off, the paralinguistic side of the communication. For helping with this, there is a very nice procedure in 'Business English Recipes' by Judy Irigoin & Bonnie Tsai (Longman). For more on the book:
The activity is called 'News Playback', & is designed for helping to read aloud better. Although a good presentation would not be read aloud in its entirety, a part may well be & the techniques looked at are useful for presentations in general. The activity involves watching a news presentation & working through a series of noticing tasks before going on to mimicking the reader. First students are asked to knock on the desk when a pause takes place, however minimal. Then they are asked to coordinate their breathing to the reader's, breathing in & out when the reader does. Head & hand gestures are then focused on. At the end the students mimic the newsreader at the same time as they view. Lots of important awareness.
You could then go on to give out the scripts & ask the students to mark the tone units & the tonic syllables. Having already looked at the pausing, they should have quite a good idea. They then view to see if their notations were correct. They then practice 'dubbing' the news broadcast & finally get them to memorise a short section so that they can do without the script & they bring everything together, the pauses, the gestures, the content.
For the Tip on dubbing,'Shadow Reading':
For the Tip on noticing through knocking when listening, 'Knock on Wood':
For theTips on prominence & tonic syllables,
Do check out 'Business English Recipes' as there are a lot of excellent ideas to use.
On using humour in presentations, there is a downloadable book which has its moments:
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If we are teaching adults, most of us find ourselves teaching one-to-one classes at some time & as a general rule these tend to be less popular than teaching the group class. This is probably due to the crowded nature of one-to-ones. It can be difficult to 'get away' from the student, whereas in the group, there is a certain distance provided by the sum of the parts.
Clearly from a learning point of view, a one-to-one offers a special situation in which learning can be tailored to the learner & skills & language covered can be relevant & interesting all the time, boosting the pace & depth of learning in the process.
Here are a few pointers for one-to-one teaching:
1. Find out about the student's area of specialisation & show a layperson's interest in it. Be on the lookout for material related to this area.
2. Be careful about going into the lessons thinking that you will be teaching them the vocabulary for their specialised areas, as more often than not, they already know these & need the surrounding language, functional & grammatical language, as well as skills development. Also the idea of 'business English' might well be reduced to the need for social English as they may be able to cope very well at work but not outside the office.
3. Let the student provide some material for the lesson. Invite her to bring in letters & emails she wants correcting, an article she needs to read, a website she needs to visit in English etc... Let her take the reins in the lessons now & then.
4. Take a 'process approach' to the syllabus & timetable. React to what comes up in lessons by planning it into the next few lessons. As the course progresses, the student will have different problems & directions so go with these rather than sticking rigidly to a coursebook.
5. Use a test-teach-test approach to new language; test the student through a roleplay/discussion >> teach the student what she needs >> test her again with the same or similar roleplay/discussion. This shows her that the language you are looking at is relevant to her needs.
6. Record progress together. Go though what has been covered regularly, keep a diary of areas that were found difficult, promote self direction - what she would like to work on etc.. Explain why this is important & explain other areas of methodology - why you are doing different activities, procedures etc. As with any class, awareness is half the process won.
7. Use the class for real rehearsals, simulate work-related situations - roleplays, meetings etc.. If necessary, emphasise the confidentiality related to this - you might be teaching elsewhere in the same company & this might dampen enthusiasm for real rehearsal.
8. Use different medium if possible. You can have a lesson in the office one day, in a different situation the next, over the telephone another day & then on the internet on another. Vary the material you use as well. Variety is the spice of life.
9. Give the student psychological space - see the Tip 'Space' at:
10. Take breaks. You can stop anytime with a one-to-one. Explain you will stop an activity, a stage in the lesson if you feel a break is needed. Encourage the student to say if she would like a break as well. This helps the overall effectiveness of a lesson.
11. Use project work. For example, a manager might find the ' Management Guru' material from the BBC useful. It could actually be a course in itself. See the Tip at:
12. Use different seating positions to suit the different activities you carry out. Instead of sitting at either sides of a table, sit next to each other, sit away from each other when the student is working on something alone.
One-to-one teaching is very interesting & rewarding & a little planning & thought can go a long way to providing a successful course.
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