In my previous blog post, Maintaining Communication with Management throughout Online Learning Courses, I suggested instructors taking into consideration the frequency of their communication, balance of positive to negative feedback, and the weight of the update. Recently, I have been thinking more and more about the additional consideration of language while maintaining communication. A company’s ROI (return on investment) for online learning courses is one of the most important items instructors need to communicate, and choosing the right language is key.
Nowhere is a consideration for language more important than in situations where teachers coming from careers in academia need to communicate with industries that may be foreign to them. Phrases that instructors are familiar with may not be received as clearly as assumed, especially ones used to categorize language levels. Phrases like “pre-intermediate,” “post-assessment,” or “proficient,” for example, may not exactly be industry lingo, which is not to say they couldn’t be considered as such, but the concepts behind these aren’t always universally understood.
Let’s look further at the example just mentioned, where an instructor wants to present a student’s growth from a pre-intermediate level to an intermediate level. Instead of using the aforementioned phrases, explaining that the student has demonstrated a typical year’s worth of growth in the language learning process might be more appropriate. Additionally, specific areas of growth that the student has shown, such as describing a past achievement in their job, can add to the clarity of what language learning goals the student has achieved and how this has positively influenced their job, which in turn impacts ROI.
In the end, anything instructors can do to effectively change the communication gap between themselves and a company’s management allows both students and the online learning courses to shine and ROI to improve. Particular words or phrases that one might think clearly and concisely describe student achievement may not be received on the other end in the way we intended. There is no standard vocabulary bank for online ESL instructors to use across industries, so it is important to identify any language that may obstruct the clarity of an idea. Knowing one’s audience is essential for all communicators.
Ryan is an onsite and online English instructor for Workplace Languages. Ryan has been in the field of English language instruction since 2006 teaching, developing, creating and leading in a variety of settings including public school systems, universities and private institutions. In addition to language classes, Workplace Languages offers full-service translation, voice-over services, off-the shelf language learning products, and a wide range of customized language programs to help you close the communication gap at your company.