Want to know something that often surprises professionals who relocate from other countries to the U.S.? They may have previous experience using English on the job. But working day in, day out in an English-only office, with native English speakers, is a whole new challenge.
But, as we all know, life gets busy. And the prospect of driving to another location regularly for English classes might seem like too much of a hassle. So today we want to focus on three ways to learn English while you’re on the job. If you’re an expat in the U.S., you can start implementing these ideas without leaving your office. And if you’re an HR professional who supports international employees in the U.S., you can help them try these tips.
1. Use Your Breaks to Learn English
Everyone has a few pockets in the day to squeeze in a little language learning at the office. The trick is making that learning fun, so you don’t feel like you’re giving up your break time. Try one of these ideas the next time you’re eating lunch, taking a walk, or filling a few moments between meetings.
- Listen to an English-language podcast. At Fluency Corp, we encourage our students who are studying English at CEFR Level B2 (upper intermediate) or higher to improve their skills by listening to English-language podcasts that tell compelling stories. In fact, we have a whole article with recommended English-language podcasts, as well as a process you can use while listening to podcasts to accelerate your learning. Check it out and start streaming!
- Watch English-language shows. A little TV at work can be great for your productivity — if you pick shows that help build your English skills. So choose a sitcom, reality show, or another program with lots of dialogue in everyday, conversational English. Notice how the cast members sound when they speak, and be sure to note any phrases or sentences you don’t understand.
- Use apps to practice English. As we’ve written before, language apps won’t make you 100% fluent. They are, however, a great way to supplement English language classes. Using a language app can be especially helpful if you can close your office door (or find a private spot) so you can practice repeating words and phrases. Our favorite non-teacher software is Pimsleur.
2. Enlist Your Colleagues For Help Learning English
Now, we’re not saying that it’s your co-workers’ responsibility to teach you English. (That’s where our final tip comes in. See below.) But they can play a valuable role in helping you sharpen your English skills.
First, simply try engaging your English-speaking colleagues in conversation more often. Invite them to lunch or even to walk with you to the vending machine or to get coffee. Making small talk about your families, hobbies, etc., might seem like just chitchat. But the more of these conversations you have, the more comfortable and skilled you will become in using English.
As you bond with your colleagues, you should also feel more comfortable asking them your questions about using English at work. For example, does the email you wrote in English have the appropriate tone? And what on Earth was your boss talking about at the meeting when he said, “We really need to think outside the box on this, so let’s circle back around next week and loop in some more people.”
3. Take English Classes at Work
Without a doubt, this is the most effective way to learn English at the office. We totally understand, though, that bringing onsite English classes to your workplace means getting buy-in from managers. That’s why we did all the math (and it was a lot!) to show the business value of language training. Share the article at the link with decision-makers on learning and development at your company.
And if you want to help your English-speaking colleagues learn to communicate in a way that is more effective for everyone, then learn about our SASS training – the key to success in a multilingual office.
If onsite classes aren’t an option, perhaps online English language training is. At Fluency Corp, both online and onsite classes are taught by live instructors who customize lessons according to student needs.