Monthly Archives: July 2014

Learning English for Hospitality and Health Services

Are you second English language speakers who work in hospitality or health services? Are you planning to work in an international setting, or perhaps moving to an English-speaking country?

To help you gain confidence, we offer quality English courses tailored just for you.

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English for health professionals

Learning conversational English is different from learning English for health practices. While we might get by with just knowing limited vocabularies, as health professionals there are a whole lot more specific phrases and industry terminologies we need to know in order to be able to communicate competently in the workplace.

For example, a doctor needs to know the standard medical questions asked to his or her patients, how to address medical diagnosis to a patient in a professional manner, etc. This level of English can get very technical.

English for hospitality

The same thing applies for those who work in the hospitality industry. Talking to your customers is different compared to talking in English with your friends, or even your manager. Also, keep in mind that Customer Service does not only involve speaking skills, but also knowing the appropriate techniques and procedures.

As communication is really important in fostering a good relationship between you and your customers, it is therefore crucial to use the appropriate style of language for Hospitality.

As not many services provide this kind of course, IM, in partnership with NSW AMES (The New South Wales Adult Migrant English Services), offers you the opportunity to widen your chances as professionals to work in international settings. Our courses are tailored specifically to meet your needs. You can choose between learning online, face-to-face, and even a combination of both.

To find out more about our English courses, please visit our website at http://im-english.edu.au/.

Your Go-To Guide for Writing Business Reports

Writing a business report shouldn’t be a burden, and it shouldn’t be hard. Here are some of our favourite tips to hand in a masterpiece business report every time.

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1. Don’t start from scratch

Odds are some of your colleagues or senior have made similar reports in the past. Ask them for a copy and start from there. It saves a lot of time and honestly, it’s always easier to not start on a blank page.

2. Always follow company guidelines

Before googling for business report templates, make sure that your company doesn’t have their own specific templates for writing the reports. Ask your manager for the specifics – such as the must-have sections in your report.

3. Be mindful of formatting

Yes, content is king but formatting is equally important. Your report must have the same font, font size, alignment and spacing throughout the document. Reading a poorly formatted report will not get your points across to the readers.

Before submitting, always read again your report and ask, “Is this report easy to scan through? Is it easy to read?”

4. Use sections and bullet points

Reports are not essay, and using bullet points to outline key points makes it easier for the reader to find the content that he/she wants to read, especially if it’s a long document. Make sure you use a headline for each section.

5. Double check the facts

In reports, it’s easy to be carried away and write a lot without remembering to give the proper backup. Always support your analysis/opinion with facts, and show hard data from the business implementation you have been doing.

Our training division, the Institute of Management, provides practical English language courses to help you improve your skills. Check out our website for further information.

A Short and Simple Guide to Writing a Business Email

We send a lot of emails everyday. Sometimes it can be only a few, but on a busy day we can send up to 70 emails a day.

Or even more.

Email has now become such an important communication tool in business. As an average worker can get 30 emails per day, how do you make sure that yours is read? Especially if you are sending it to a very busy person…

Here is the guideline to help you write better emails.

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1. Be brief

Imagine the things that are lost in translation when writing essay-long emails.

If you need to explain something, it’s better to be done via meeting or even Skype call.

Be as brief and concise as possible. Use action verbs. Put in bold or highlight keywords and action words.

2. Be specific

Telling your coworker, “I need a presentation set on topic A,” while polite, does not do the trick. Instead, be specific. Say:

“For the presentation next Friday, I will need:

1. A 10-slide presentation on topic A
2. 8 copies of printed handouts
3. The latest data from our research team.

Please submit before Wednesday the 2nd of July.”

3. Edit

Make sure your email is free of grammatical and spelling errors as they will make your email more difficult to read. Remove any ambiguous phrases or statements. Remember, your reply and email request’s quality really depends on the clarity of your writing.

Our training division, the Institute of Management, provides practical English language courses to help you improve your skills. Check out our website for further information.

Becoming a Better English Writer

In the past few posts, we have covered a lot about English skills and how important it is to be able to speak, write and listen well. However, we would once again emphasise on the importance of becoming a better English writer.

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Writing, perhaps, is the hardest skill to develop in learning a new language. In meeting face-to-face with other people, even when our English is below the expected standard of Professional Business Communication, we can at times still get by with some level of confidence, jokes and body language. In writing, it’s a whole different case.

Let’s say you are looking for a job. You will need to revamp your resume and cover letter, but they somewhat contain few grammatical and sentence structure errors. Now consider an HR manager who needs to read through 100 of these applications. Which CV do you think this manager will be interested in – the ones with no error or the ones with error?

Consider another situation. Say you are working for an international company, or even a local company who uses resources from other countries. You will need to exchange emails with colleagues who do not speak your language. You may also need to send reports to your managers or directors in English. When it’s time for a promotion, who do you think will advance in his or her career – the one with good writing skills or the one with poor writing skills?

The thing is, as the world becomes more and more digitised, the use of emails and reports trumps the need for face-to-face meetings or phone calls. Therefore, if something is written poorly, the proposal may be deemed as unprofessional, which may cost someone a potential client or even his or her job. One person may read hundreds of application letters every day (by judy at dresshead). Others read hundreds of emails. Imagine the amount of information being lost in translation and miscommunications caused due to the use of poor English!

And yes, it’s harder to advance in our position when our English is not good enough.

But don’t lose heart just yet – the good news is, writing in English is a skill you can develop. The more you practise (not just by writing a lot, but pay more attention in reviewing, editing and making an effort to write better), the more skilled you will be.

For the next few posts, we will talk about how to write better business emails and reports. It’s time to take charge on your English learning!

Our training division, the Institute of Management, provides practical English language courses to help you improve your skills. Check out our website for further information.

Presenting in English for Second Language Speakers

Now, you are able to talk to your colleagues using English. Your English has gotten better and you now feel more confident in talking in social settings. However, you have an upcoming presentation with the senior management of a potential client company and you feel like you are back to square one. How should you prepare for an English presentation in an environment outside your comfort zone?

Presenting in English is not easy. Presenting by itself is already a nerve-racking experience, especially when you have an important project to win. Add with the fact that you need to use English as people from multiple countries would be present. How would you do this?

Here are some important things to take note while doing presentations in English.

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1. Know what you are presenting

This is the key – you need to master your content 100 per cent. And by this, we really mean that you know the business terms and the proper phrases to use in your area of work. Using day-to-day English may get the point across when you are chatting informally, but in an important presentation, you just can’t take the opportunity lightly.

Read books that talk about your industry. Take note on the terms and words that they use. Prepare. Research. And practise… a lot.

2. Don’t use too many slides

While second language-English speakers may feel more confident in using more slides so that they can write a lot of their presentation materials and read from there, it is really not advisable.

Using too many slides (especially slides with a lot of words) will kill your presentation. Instead, a good presentation uses more charts and pictures. Try to link your points by telling stories – as people relate to stories better (and yes, they remember them better too).

The trick is to put the difficult keywords or the important phrases on the slides. This will act as a reminder to you. You may be tempted, but don’t just throw all ten sentences of what you want to say into that one slide.

3. Build your confidence

As second language speakers, you may not feel confident, especially when giving presentation to natives. However, by showing that you’re not confident would put an emphasis on your inability to present professionally. If you are not even sure of your presentation, why should the others listen to you?

Always talk slowly and clearly. Make sure your voice is loud enough to be heard in the room. The audience will forgive your wrong pronunciation and foreign accent. But they won’t be as forgiving if you waste their time with an inaudible presentation.

Our training division, the Institute of Management, provides practical English language courses to help you improve your skills. Check out our website for further information.

Why is Learning English Hard?

If you are reading this article, odds are you want to improve your English language skills. But sometimes you hit a brick wall and utter this question: Why is learning English hard?

Perhaps you are okay with reading. Perhaps you pick up listening quite well. But what about your writing skills? What about your speaking skills?

It’s impossible to master a new language in a day, but perhaps we can speed up the journey quite a bit.

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It’s all a matter of will

Some people pick it up easier than others, but this shouldn’t stop you from learning. Looking at our English courses, we have seen that the students who excel the most are the ones who really want to learn. They are willing to practise again and again, and repeat the subjects until they have mastered them 100 per cent.

So if you have decided to learn English, keep on doing it even when you feel like giving up, or when you feel like you aren’t making any progress.

Be consistent

In learning a new language, it can’t be done by cramming a hundred grammar rules in one day and not by learning intensively for a month. The key is to be consistent and practise it every day. Even if you just take 15 minutes to learn everyday, if you do it continually over time, you will see results.

Being unconfident is your greatest enemy

Perhaps you don’t want to speak to other people in English until you feel your English is perfect. But that way, you will never speak English to other people. It’s okay to make mistakes. In fact, making mistakes is the best way to improve, because you won’t want that to happen to you again in the future, so you will make an unconscious effort to try harder. Don’t let your pride and ego pull you away from practising your English. Talking in front of a mirror and repeating sentences by yourself are good efforts, but at one point you really need to practise with real people over real conversations.

Lastly, read a lot

The best and fastest way to learn a new language is by reading – a lot. By reading, you will learn new vocabularies and how to use them in appropriate contexts and sentences. Furthermore, you will pick up more details in reading compared to just watching TV or listening to music. Reading forces your brain to memorise the spelling of words. It also makes you knowledgeable in what kind of sentences are more appropriate to use the words than others. Sooner rather than later, you will be able to somewhat weigh which grammar rule to use for a certain situation.

Learning a new language is difficult and can be emotionally straining if you have to do it for a job or studying. But perhaps you can make it easier to learn by using these tricks.

Do you have any other tips in learning a new language? Share with us in the comment section below.

Our training division, the Institute of Management, provides practical English language courses to help you improve your skills. Check out our website for further information.

Ultra Simple yet Important Business Writing Tips

We usually use English in writing emails and reports at work. We use English to talk to our multinational colleagues.

While being able to speak and write in English is essential, less emphasis has been put on English grammar, spelling and punctuation; although it is equally important as it shows our level of professionalism.

Here are some top writing tips and how you can implement them in emails and reports:

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1. Use correct punctuation

It is important to put punctuation correctly as it will determine whether or not a piece of writing will be able to be read smoothly.

Click through for some popular examples.

2. Spelling

While you can be forgiven for using wrong verse tense, it’s more irritating to see a lot of spelling mistakes in a piece of writing.

Always make sure you double check what you write, and turn on the grammar and spell check on your Microsoft Word. Simply right click on the zigzag underlines to see how you can correct your mistake(s). If you are in doubt of the spelling of a certain word or how to use a certain grammar rule, it only takes five seconds to Google the answer.

3. Don’t use shortcut-words

The trend seen is that sometimes people like to shorten words, for example from you to ‘u’ or for to ‘4’. While it is acceptable in an informal chat setting, sometimes the habit is carried through and seen in business emails as well. This is rather unacceptable.

Our training division, the Institute of Management, provides practical English language courses to help you improve your skills. Check out our website for further information.

7 Top Tips to Speak in English Like a Pro (for second/foreign language speakers)

Do you lack the confidence in talking to native speakers? Fear not, we’ve been there, and done that too. Here are some of our proven tips to boost your confidence level when trying to improve your English.

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1. Stay calm

When you’re nervous, your words may sound jumbled up and unclear. Perhaps your English is already good, but that shaky voice wrecks your confidence and makes the person you are speaking to unable to understand what you are saying. Stay calm. Take a deep breath, and just talk. Remember, it’s usually worse in your head compared to the reality.

2. Practise

Practise a lot. Watch your favourite Hollywood movies without subtitle and mimic the dialogue of the casts. Pay attention to the pronunciation. You don’t have to try mimicking the accent, or you will start sounding odd.

3. Speak slowly

For native speakers to understand us, sometimes we need to speak slower (and clearer) so that they can listen to our English at ease. As an ESL/EFL (English as a Second/Foreign Language) speaker, we will always have an accent, and that’s okay. The key to good communication is to say things clearly.

4. Read a lot

Through reading, our vocabularies can increase quickly along with our knowledge of common phrases and idioms. Reading supplements our learning to speak confidently as we learn more about the language.

5. Tell a story

One of the best indicators of knowing that your conversational English is good is when you can tell a story. Don’t only practice on general day-to-day conversation. Chat regularly with your native colleagues, friends or family and really share some stories of what you did last weekend, or your recent holiday trip. Your English will improve significantly.

6. Listen more

To be able to speak well, we must listen more to English. Pay attention to what people are saying. In a meeting, take notes on how your native colleagues answer a question or present a talk. Improving your listening will in turn improve your ability to speak.

7. Talk more

At some point, practising in front of the mirror will not do you enough good. You need to actually talk to real people on real matters. This way, you can develop a knack in conversational English and after some time, you’ll gain the confidence you need.

Our training division, the Institute of Management, provides practical English language courses to help you improve your skills. Check out our website for further information.