As a Lingo Live coach, the majority of my learners have been studying English for many years. They come to me with very advanced skills and their speaking nearly blows me away when I meet them for the first time. More than once I’ve said, “I almost thought you were American/British! How did you get SO good at speaking?” They smile and thank me but go on to explain that they want to continue improving through conversation. These learners see English coaching as a source of continual learning and development; from working with them I’ve come to realize the ways that regular English lessons can help even the most advanced learner.
#1. Lessons build confidence.
Often even highly advanced speakers do not feel confident speaking in their non-native language, preventing them from speaking up in work or English social situations. Speaking with a coach in a positive space on a regular basis builds confidence in their abilities. As coaches, we focus on what the learners do well and provide positive feedback, while helping them overcome the communication challenges that are holding them back. learners practice real-world scenarios in a safe space until they become more comfortable to participate both socially and at work.
#2. Lessons decrease response time.
All language learners struggle with responding to questions without having to think too much or translate from their native language. Advanced speakers have polished this skill to a great degree, but their rates for speaking and understanding are often significantly slower than in their native language and often lose their chance to speak in fast-paced group settings. Being able to quickly understand, process, and respond concisely are core fundamentals of good communication. Targeted English coaching can increase the speed of both comprehension and articulation.
#3. Lessons increase cultural knowledge and awareness.
Current events and pop-culture are often the topic of conversation in group settings, leaving those without knowledge of the group’s culture out of the conversation. The cultural exchange involved in English lessons is beneficial for both the learner and the teacher. It’s useful for learners to understand the culture and current happenings of the US as well as explain cultural difference and current events in their home countries. This creates a culture of empathy and understanding between colleagues from different parts of the world. As a coach, I don’t instigate heavy political debate, but I do ask for learners’ perspectives on current American issues such as elections, food and nutrition, and certain laws and how these compare to issues back in their home countries. This leads to eye-opening discussion and a healthy flow of ideas. Developing a deeper understanding of current events, pop-culture and cultural differences allows learners to better understand their colleagues and arms them with discussion points for future conversations.
#4. Lessons help correct nagging grammar problems.
Every learner of a second language has an Achilles’ heel that is difficult to fully master. For one, it might be using the modal verb “must” when “have to” would be better, for another prepositions of place, and for another pronunciation of a specific vowel sound. Advanced speakers grow tremendously in their learning but often I find that some of them need targeted practice to develop these areas and friends and colleagues are hesitant to correct them. The benefit of having English lessons is having a dedicated teacher whose entire job is to focus on improvement.
#5. Lessons enhance vocabulary richness and depth through idioms and slang.
Most advanced English language learners gain an extensive vocabulary and can speak very eloquently on any topic thrown at them. Sometimes, however, it would help them to differentiate between formal and informal speech by incorporating slang and idioms. Their native English speaking colleagues throw around slang every day and sometimes even advanced speakers feel left out of the conversation. Recently, one of my learners asked me to explain why we use the word “go” in so many situations: for example, “here we go,” “here you go,” “there we go,” and “way to go.” Understanding the subtle differences in each of these phrases helped him to enrich his vocabulary and feel more confident joining casual conversation. Idioms and slang can liven up a conversation and help learners connect more with native speakers.
There is always room to grow and more to learn. English lessons can cover the language and communication needs learners have at every level of proficiency. Seeing themselves as lifelong learners can greatly benefit advanced English speakers, and continuing to sharpen their skills will give them a competitive edge in today’s increasingly globalized workplace.
– Dina Spencer
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