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Category Archives for General

Do you speak Denglish?

Do you speak Denglish?

Our favourite Denglish phrases and the correct English form

Hi there!

Last time Yvette and I shared “the 20 business idioms you have to know in business” with you. In case you’ve missed it, check it out here. Our students regularly ask for English equivalents to German idioms or expressions they use on a daily basis. Sometimes they make up word for word translations, which sound hilarious to us but are incorrect. We then tell our students they have just spoken Denglish.

Thank you …

… to all the Denglish speakers out there, because you have put a smile on our faces many times, we’re sharing our favourite Denglish phrases or falsely translated idioms. But first let’s explain what Denglish is, as surely some of you have heard of it but others haven’t encountered it and its regional forms yet. 

What is Denglish?

So, in a nutshell Denglish is used to refer to incorrect English that is influenced by German. The “D“ comes from “Deutsch“ = German and is just added to “English“.  Such words, which are a linguistic blend of words are called portmanteau. If you are interested in learning more about Denglish, check out this article on Wikipedia.

As English language trainers in Germany we have come across very many Denglish expressions, which our students have made up and sounded real and correct to them. Living in Franconia, we have even encountered “Frenglish”. The “Fr“ stands for Franconian, as Franconians tend to have a special German dialect. There are more regional differences. Have you heard of  “Schwenglish”? If not, you can watch a video on Youtube, just type “Schwenglish” into the search bar and you’ll find it. Even though these translated German idioms or expressions are incorrect, we are listing our favourite ones here with the correct English idiom or expression. Please consider this to be a list for reference so that now you finally have the correct English expression in writing. 

 

Our favourite 30 Denglish expressions

Denglish

English

1. Don’t go me on the ghost!

Don’t get on my nerves

2. Sponge over it!

No hard feelings!

3. You lucky mushroom!

Lucky you!

4. You are first cream!

You are top-notch!

5. That’s the jumping point!

That’s the crucial point!

6. I press you the thumbs!

I’ll keep my fingers crossed!

7.  Enjoy your life in full trains!

Enjoy your life to the fullest!

8. Not bad Mr Woodpecker!

Not bad at all!

9.  That’s not the yellow from the egg!

That’s not the greatest thing since sliced bread / exactly brilliant / nothing to write home about / not exactly the bee’s knees

10.  No sugar licking!

No bed of roses / No walk in the park / It’s no picnic

11. Peace, joy, egg cake.

And everybody was happy!

12. You have no idea of tooting and blowing.

You don’t have a clue / the faintest idea.

13. It was all for the cat.

It was all a waste of time.

14. Life is no pony farm.

Life is not all guns and roses.

15. I think my pig is whistling.

Blow me down / I think I’m going off my rocker.

 

Ready or not for the remaining 15 Denglish idioms, here they come

 

16. We are sitting in the ink.

We are in the soup.

17. He is washed with all waters.

He knows every trick in the book.

18. Every beginning is heavy.

The first step is always the hardest.

19. With that you have shot the bird.

You’ve taken the biscuit BE/ the cake AE

20. I wish you what!

Have a good one!

21. That doesn’t pull at me.

That won’t wash with me.

22. Throw the shotgun into the grain.

To cut and run / To throw in the towel or sponge.

23. I am at the end of my Latin.

I’m at my wits’ end.

24. I fell from all clouds.

I was taken by complete surprise.

25. Oh you green nine!

Good grief!

26. The devil will I do!

Like hell I will!

27. The wiser gives after.

It’s better to bend than to break.

28. There we have the salad.

We count the cost.

29. He has a corpse in the cellar.

He has a skeleton in the cupboard BE /closet AE

30. Only over my corpse.

Over my dead body.

 

There you have it, that wraps it up for today

 

Those are our favourite Denglish phrases and idioms.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our list. What is your favourite one? Let us know in the comments or connect with us on social media like Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Xing and Twitter and let us know there.

For more tips and solutions, which have helped our students face their challenges in communicating successfully in English and getting their point across, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have a wonderful time and take care

Nadia & Yvette

PS If you like what we’ve shared with you and you want to share it, then please do! Have you checked out our podcast yet? You can find it on iTunes and on Spotify. Sign up, so you don’t miss the next episode.

Business Idioms – 20 idioms you have to know in business

business idioms - 20 you have to know in business

What are Good Business Idioms?

That’s the question Yvette and I are asked on a regular basis. The reason for that question is because most of our students often have to interact with native speakers of English in a business environment or they have heard an idiom and didn’t understand what it means. So, Yvette and I have decided on the top 20 business idioms you have to know and are sharing them with you here.

What is a business idiom?

First of all, an idiom is a phrase where the words together have a meaning that is different from the dictionary definitions of the individual words. There are at least 25,000 idioms in the English language. Don’t worry, we’re not listing all of them that would take too long. Now business idioms are used in a business environment or context. A lot of business idioms originate from sports.

 

Here is our selection of the 20 business idioms you have to know.

1. Get the ball rolling

Use this phrase to say you want to start something, e. g. a project.

2. In a nutshell 

You can use this phrase when you want to give a short summary of something using only a few words.

3. Hit the nail on the head

This phrase applies when you have done or said something 100 % correctly, then you’ve hit the nail on the head

4. Have someone’s work cut out for them

If you have something difficult to do or a demanding assignment and you don’t want to give further details about it, you can use the phrase “I’ve my got my work cut out for me”.

5. Learn the ropes

This means to learn the basics of something. This phrase originated from the expression “know the ropes” which was used when sailboats were a means of transportation and when understanding how to handle the ropes necessary to operate a ship and its sails was an essential skill. 

6. Caught between a rock and a hard place

Use this when you want to point out that you are between two equally difficult choices and it does not matter which choice you make.

7. No strings attached

If you give something without expecting anything in return, you’re giving with no strings attached, i.e. no obligation on the receiver’s side to return whatever you’ve given.

8. Read between the lines

This idiom is a useful skill too. When you understand something which isn’t clearly communicated or is often only suggested, then you can read between the lines.

9. Rock the boat

 This phrase means to do or say something that causes problems or upsets people.

10. See eye to eye

When you see eye to eye with your business partners, you agree fully with them.

11. The sky’s the limit

It’s hard to tell where the sky ends. Use this phrase to say there is no limit to what can be achieved.

12. Touch base

This is used to say you will make contact with someone or talk to someone

13. Get/have one’s foot in the door

This phrase means to take a low-level position at a company with the goal of eventually getting a better position within the same company.

14. By the book

When doing things by the book, you do them exactly according to company policy or the law.

15. Calling the shots

Someone who is responsible and has to make the important decisions also calls the shots.

16. Set the record straight

When you need to correct a mistake and say what is correct or the truth, then you set the record straight.

17. I’ve got a lot on my plate 

This is equivalent to I have a lot of responsibilities or tasks to finish.

18. Go back to the drawing board /  to square one

This means it’s time to start again from the beginning.

19. Pull the plug

When you pull the plug on something, you stop it from continuing.

20. Call it a day

When you stop working for the day, you call it a day.

 

There you have it, that wraps it up for today

Our selection of the twenty business idioms you have to know. In case you want to learn more, I’m putting together a list of  idioms for you soon. Sign up to the newsletter or follow me on social media to find out when that list will be made available.

I promise I won’t list all 25,000 idioms and I hope you’ve found this list useful. Join me again next week for a new blog post and find connect with me on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Xing and Twitter.

Have a wonderful time and take care

Nadia

PS If you like what I’ve shared with you and you want to share it, then please do! Have you checked out our podcast yet? You can find it on iTunes and Spotify. Sign up, so you don’t miss the next episode.

 

 

 

Language Learning Strategies

language learning strategies

Which language learning strategies do you recommend? 

While teaching an in-company course last week, one of the participants asked me for language learning tips and strategies, as she was interested in speeding up her English language learning.

Immediately different language learning strategies popped up in my head and I remembered which important trick had helped me with each of these strategies. 

Here are my three favourite language learning strategies: 

1. Read English texts 

2. Listen to English audios 

3. Watch English videos 

Let me explain each of them in some detail, before I let you in on the trick, which will make these language learning strategies a success.

1. Read English texts

Now with the first of these language learning strategies I mean reading books, magazines, blogs, comic books, graphic novels and just anything in written form, which interests you. It doesn’t matter if you prefer paper or digital material, it just has to interest you.

2. Listen to English audios

Clearly this language learning strategy you can do anywhere; at the gym, during a walk outside, on a bus or train and while driving. This brings us to what you should listen to. Basically whatever is easy enough for you to follow at the beginning, e.g. songs, podcasts or audio books.

3. Watch English videos

I have to admit, being a photographer as well, I’m quite a visual person. That doesn’t mean the other language learning strategies aren’t good, they are just as good as this one. In this day and age, it’s so easy to watch documentaries, the news, your favourite superhero or comedy movie or TV show in your preferred language or with subtitles. Although, I personally advise against switching on the subtitles the whole time, as you then tend to read instead of listening and watching. Subtitles can distract you too much and eliminate the positive experience. However, if you use them wisely, they are a blessing.

If you’re thinking, “Great! Thanks, for telling me things I’ve already tried out and they did not work for me!”, then please consider this trick, which is essential for all language learning strategies to work:

You have to implement them correctly, otherwise they won’t work. Will you run faster if you only read about running, listen to people talk about running and watch others run? Well, no, you won’t. The only way to really improve is to implement.

Language was made to communicate verbally, so if you want to learn it you have to use it. 

If you want to boost these language leaning strategies fast then find a study buddy or mentor and then use the strategies as follows:

  1. Choose a text you’ll enjoy reading. It can be a short article about your favourite topic, a book or even Harry Potter, it doesn’t matter. You have to enjoy it, because you will study and apply what you have learned. Go through each paragraph carefully. Mark the words you don’t know. Ask your mentor to explain those words and to help you with the pronunciation. Use the new vocabulary you’ve learned as often as possible or they’ll disappear again. Once you’ve understood everything in the passage go on.
  2. For this strategy, I advise repeating what you’ve heard out loud. Repeat not only the words but the word melody too. If you like listening to songs, great then sing along! You’d be surprised at how many words you can remember if you start singing them. In case you’re not sure about the words, then check out the lyrics. Did you know you can reduce the speed of a podcast? Just in case, it’s too fast for you to understand.
  3. Grab you favourite TV show or movie and break it up into consumable segments. Once you’ve absorbed every bit, try imitating the word melody, the accent, the body language and the facial expressions. Get involved with the whole shebang. You’ll see, consuming videos like this, involves work but it is a lot of fun too.

So to answer the question in your head, “Did you implement these strategies the same way?” Yes, I did and I can help you reach your language goal faster too.

Contact me here and we can talk about it.

That wraps it up for today

I hope you’ve found these language learning strategies useful and you’ll join me again for another FAQ and my tips and solutions, which have helped my students face their challenges in communicating successfully in English and getting their point across.

I’d love to connect with you and get to know you, you can find me on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Xing and Twitter.

Have a wonderful time and take care

Nadia

PS If you like what I’ve shared with you and you want to share it, then please do! Have you checked out our podcast yet? You can find it on iTunes and Spotify. Sign up, so you don’t miss the next episode.

Asking Questions a Skill for Everyone?

asking qeustions

Yes, absolutely! Asking questions is a skill everyone needs and should have.

Why is asking questions important?

Well, depending on the situation, there are many good reasons for asking questions. Let me tell you about my experience.

I get excited when I get to meet new people; however, that hasn’t always been the case. I remember dreading social or networking events. After working all day, I often felt drained of energy to really engage with new people at such events. I always wanted to make a connection with people instead of just attending (being present). I felt empty and unable to contribute to conversations. Until, I discovered the easy and simple trick of asking questions. This skill was and still is a game changer. No more feeling awkward or not knowing how to start a conversation and how to keep it going. Asking questions has helped me feel more comfortable and at ease.

You can use the skill of asking questions for many reasons, here are my favourite five:

1. Leading & steering conversations  

Whoever asks will lead and steer the conversation in the intended direction.

2. Gathering information

In order to make a connection, it is so important to find common ground with your conversation partner.

3. Understanding a topic or someone’s view

I learn a lot about my conversation partners when I ask them to explain a topic or their point of view. 

4. Generating ideas 

When listening to people in a discussion, I love generating new ideas or views on a topic by asking questions. It broadens my mind. 

5. Eliminating confusion

Sometimes misunderstandings can harm a connection in process. Asking questions has often helped me save connections and relationships. 

 

In case you think you are too shy or you don’t know how to apply the skill of asking questions, here is one very simple strategy everyone can apply, who hasn’t started asking questions.

What about you?

You can mirror the question as an answer and then just add “What about you?” or even shorter “And you?”. 

That’s the strategy and once you feel more comfortable and confident, you’ll start asking questions yourself.

So, do you have any questions for me?

Here is one question for you: are you interested in learning the skill of asking questions in English conversation? Then connect with me on social media like Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Xing and Twitter.

That wraps it up for today

I hope you’ve found this useful and you’ll join me again for more tips and solutions, which have helped my students face their challenges in communicating successfully in English and getting their point across.

Have a wonderful time and take care

Nadia

PS If you like what I’ve shared with you and you want to share it, then please do! Have you checked out our podcast yet? You can find it on iTunes and Spotify. Sign up, so you don’t miss the next episode.

 

Different Types of Listeners – Which are You?

types of listeners

Last week’s post was about the must-have superpower of listening, while talking about it on the podcast Yvette and I also mentioned there are different types of listeners. So, today I’m covering different types of listeners. While researching for this topic I came across many websites, which described numerous types of listeners. I’m going to break it down to just four types.

Listener Types 

1. Non-listeners 

The name says it all, they don’t listen to what you are saying. Instead they prefer hearing themselves talk. Sometimes endlessly. Surely you’ve noticed someone turn the conversation so that he or she could talk all the time. Non-listeners have a lot on their minds and they have to let it out. Who knows, they might explode otherwise 😉

2. Minimal listeners 

These listeners are the step before non-listeners. They are quite similar to the non-listener; they are more interested in what they have to say. Instead of paying attention to what you are telling them, they can use your words as a form of introduction for their talk and they don’t mind interrupting you to let you know their thoughts, even if you haven’t finished. Minimal listeners tend to be less patient. They don’t care much for visual communication. They might start rolling their eyes, checking their smart devices or start fidgeting. 

3. Pretend listeners

This listener type listens to your words, but doesn’t hear the feelings you’re conveying with your words. The pretend listeners observe your character, judge what you say and then decide on their response. Depending on how well they pretend, it can be difficult to tell the difference. 

4. Active listeners

This type of listener is what makes listening a superpower. Active listeners pay absolute attention to what you are saying and to what you are communicating nonverbally.  They show their interest by nodding or giving short reassuring responses. They do not interrupt and they ignore everything and everyone else around them. You become the centre of their universe. 

Be honest, which type are you?

Non, minimal, pretend or active listener? 

I hope you’re ready for the truth? We’re probably all these types of listeners at different times and situations, depending on the conversation, the conversation partner, the circumstances and how we feel. As much as we would like to be active listeners all the time, we have to face it, it’s not always possible. Imagine, you receive a call from a friendly call centre wanting to sell you their latest high priced product. That’s probably the situation I turn into the non-listener and interrupt the caller in a friendly way and just say “I’d like to save us both the time, I’m not interested, but thank you anyway.” Do you see what I mean?

Being aware of these different types of listeners and accepting the fact that we all can transform into these types is the first step to changing our behaviour. We have to set our priorities accordingly. It’s our decision what type of listener we want to be. I’ll let you in on a secret. When someone needs me to be an active listener and I can’t be just that, then I’ll ask them, if we could have the conversation at a later time, when I know I can listen actively. The benefit on both sides is significant. There is no shame in admitting you’re not ready and it’s better than turning into a different type of listener.

 

That just about wraps it up for today

One more thing though, Yvette and I have set up an early interest page for an upcoming programme about perfecting your presentation in English. Check out all the information about it here.

I hope you’ve found this useful and you’ll join me again for more tips and solutions, which have helped my students face their challenges in communicating successfully in English and getting their point across.

Have a wonderful time and take care

Nadia

PS If you like what I’ve shared with you and you want to share it, then please do! Have you checked out our podcast yet? You can find it on iTunes and Spotify. Sign up, so you don’t miss the next episode.

 

The Must-Have Superpower: Listening

superpower listening

Listening is the Must-Have Superpower

Yes, you’ve read correctly. I’ll repeat it again for you. Listening is the must-have superpower.

Are you somewhat confused about this statement? Then please bear with me, while I explain and give you four steps on how to perfect your listening skills and become a great communicator.

Preferably you enjoy having conversations with people. Conversations are dialogues, i.e. one person says something while the other person is listening and vice versa. If you’ve watched famous speakers, presenters and entertainers closely, you will have noticed one skill they all have in common. It’s listening. Why is it so important? When listening carefully to what your conversation partners are saying, you are showing them that you respect them. You are spending your valuable time listening to their hopes, thoughts, ideas and anxieties.

They will love you.

Just think about the last time you had to share some vital information. How did you feel when you told someone who really listened to you? You felt relieved, understood, accepted, respected and connected. The person, who only listened to what you had to say, connected with you. You trust this person now more than others. If you asked for this person’s advice, you’d take it. Do you see why I call it a must-have superpower? With this superpower people will feel attracted to you.

They will want to be around you and want to learn from you.

Some people have this superpower naturally, others don’t. However, don’t worry! You can learn the skill of listening, in case you are not gifted with this talent. You will need discipline, practice and these steps: 

1. Visual Communication 

Look at the person you are having a conversation with. Look them in their eyes. By keeping eye contact you are showing them that you acknowledge what they are telling you. You are giving them your attention. Ignore others around you and focus on the person talking to you. Avoid distractions concerning the connection process. Same thing goes for your devices. Just look around you the next time you sit in a café or restaurant. Most people are more engaged with their smart devices than with the people around them. If you want to make a special connection, learn to ignore your devices. You can mute them or switch them off.

2. Be Empathetic 

When concentrating on your conversation partner, put yourself in his or her position. Think of how the person is feeling. How his or her day was. How is he or she feeling, excited, overwhelmed, angry? Observe the body language and ask questions, which underline the vibes you are sensing.

3. Listen Actively

Recap what you’ve heard to show that you are listening and that you truly hear what your conversation partner is telling you. Be curious and ask follow-up questions to signal your interest. Tell your conversation partner which feelings or vibes you are sensing. Try to be his or her mirror, which speaks to them and comforts them.

4. Stay Open-Minded

This is possibly the most difficult step. You won’t be successful at mastering the superpower of listening if you judge the person who is talking to you. You’ll be preoccupied with your thoughts. Having your own opinion is absolutely fine and legitimate. Just put it aside and don’t let it get in the way of making a connection with your conversation partner. He or she will notice if you are not open-minded and start judging.

Remember, your aim is to establish a strong connection.

 

That just about wraps it up for today

One more thing though, Yvette and I have set up an early interest page for an upcoming programme about perfecting your presentation in English. Check out all the information about it here.

I hope you’ve found this useful and you’ll join me again for more tips and solutions, which have helped my students face their challenges in communicating successfully in English and getting their point across.

Have a wonderful time and take care

Nadia

PS If you like what I’ve shared with you and you want to share it, then please do! Have you checked out our podcast yet? You can find it on iTunes and Spotify. Sign up, so you don’t miss the next episode.

 

The Two Missing Ingredients for Delivering a Memorable Presentation or Speech

missing ingredients salt and pepper

Memorable Presentation or Speech

So, you’ve gone through all the steps and strategies I’ve told you about so far. You’ve done your homework; you clearly understand your topic and message. You know your audience’s benefit. You’ve made an outline of your presentation or speech and you’ve practised numerous times, in front of a mirror, your dog even your best friends and family. But there still is something missing. You’re not happy with the outcome because you want it to be memorable.  Now there are many ingredients for your presentation or speech to be memorable for your audience. Maybe the location is special; there will be music and a big light show before you go on stage. Or a presenter will introduce you as a special guest presenter or speaker. Possibly a big video screen will show you, your slide show or a video. In this day and age video is very important. It is pushed by social media because it grabs people’s attention. I confess, I enjoy a good video too. But honestly, next time you want to watch a TED talk, don’t watch it; listen to it instead. Listen to the voice and to the pauses. These two ingredients make all the difference. 

“The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between.”

This is a quote by Mozart. Make sure to consider his advice for your next presentation or speech. Your words are the notes, which will sound good and leave an impact on your audience with the silence or the pauses in between.

Your Voice

Most people do not recognise that their voice is a powerful instrument. Before considering these three points about your voice, I’d suggest recording yourself and then listening to the recording. Many people have difficulties with this exercise, as they don’t like the sound of their own voice. If you are one of those people, please do not give up and flush everything down the drain. Please consider that you always sound like that to other people and I don’t want you to change your voice. I want you to listen to the recording carefully for these three distinctions:

1. Volume 

Concerning the volume of your voice answer these questions:

How loud are you?
Do you have a powerful voice?
Is it difficult or even unpleasant for you to speak up?
Are you used to using a microphone?

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not suggesting you should shout at your audience. Please don’t do that. I’m asking you to vary the volume of your voice during your presentation or speech, in order to grab and maintain your audience’s attention. If you’ve never used a microphone before, please test it first. Depending on the microphone there are different aspects to consider. You’ll feel more confident if you test it before. Have someone sit at different positions in the room and tell you how well you are heard at each position. 

2. Tone 

Do you remember what your mom or dad did when you had fallen and hurt yourself as a child? They’d take you in their arms, hold you tight and speak to you in a soothing voice while applying a Band-Aid. Possibly, you remember your parents, coach or team members cheering for you at a sport event. Or you remember a recent event you attended, which put you to sleep, because the speaker’s voice didn’t have any variation. Use your voice to make your audience feel comfortable and at ease, to feel excited and fired up or to put them to sleep, it’s up to you. Changing your tone during your presentation or speech will prevent your audience from drifting away. You will help them to focus on your topic. Using pauses here is another possibility to gain attention and interest. If you want to involve your listeners by asking them real questions, your intonation needs to go up at the end of the question. 

3. Pitch 

Do you have a high or low voice? It is easier to listen to people who have a low voice than to people with a high-pitched voice. If you have a high pitch then practise speaking in a lower pitch. Don’t go too low, as your voice still needs to sound natural. 

 

 Pauses 

Remember Mozart’s quote? The notes are your voice and the pauses are the silences between. Another great way to emphasise your words and draw your audience’s attention is to use pauses. Pauses before moving on to the next point also give your audience the necessary time to grasp and understand what you are saying. Some speakers like using pauses to build tension and excitement. Instead of using  fillers (the um and ah sounds), try pauses next time. It’s not something you’ll be able to change overnight, but it is worth a try.

That just about wraps it up for today

One more thing though, Yvette and I have set up an early interest page for an upcoming programme about perfecting your presentation in English. Check out all the information about it here.

I hope you’ve found these two ingredients useful and you’ll join me again for more tips and solutions, which have helped my students face their challenges in communicating successfully in English and getting their point across.

Have a wonderful time and take care

Nadia

PS If you like what I’ve shared with you and you want to share it, then please do! Have you checked out our podcast yet? You can find it on iTunes and Spotify. Sign up, so you don’t miss the next episode.

 

Language Levels, How Many are There and Which Level do I Have?

levels

“You need to have at least a B2 level of English”. Possibly you’ve heard or read this statement before and have wondered what it means exactly. Another abbreviation you’re perhaps wondering about together with the language levels is CEFR . So let’s start with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), which is a guideline and it describes learners’ achievements in a foreign language. It was put together by the Council of Europe.  I don’t want to confuse you with too much detailed information, so I’ll break this down for you below. However, if you want to know more, then check out the Council of Europe website.

How many language levels are there? 

There are six levels, divided into three groups.

  1. Basic users: levels A1 and A2
  2. Independent users: levels B1 and B2
  3. Proficient users: level C1 and C2

The CEFR describes for each level what the language learner is supposed to be able to do in each of four skills, which are reading, listening, speaking and writing. That means you can have different skill levels, e.g. you’re listening skills can be at B2 level, but your writing skills are at B1 level. This is possible and sometimes the case.

Let’s have a closer look at each level and the descriptions. You can find a global scale table with all levels and descriptions from the Council of Europe here.

A1

Some people think this language level describes learners who have no knowledge of a foreign language. That is not true.
At A1 level the learner can …

… understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type.

… introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she has.

… interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and can help.

… write a short, simple postcard, e. g. sending holiday greetings.

… can fill in forms with personal details, e. g. entering name, nationality and address on a hotel registration form.

If you cannot do these things, you are at a pre-A1 level.

A2

People at this language level are often called elementary learners.
They can …

… understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment).

… communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters.

… describe in simple terms aspects of their background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.

… write short, simple notes and messages relating to matters in areas of immediate needs and a very simple personal letter, e. g.  thanking someone for something.

B1

These learners are also referred to as being at an intermediate language level.
They can …

… understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc..

… deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where they need to speak the language.

… produce simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest.

… describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes & ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plan.

… write simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest and personal letters describing experiences and impressions.

 

B2

Language learners at this stage are sometimes called upper-intermediate.
They can …

… understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in their field of specialisation.

… interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity, which makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without stress.

… produce clear and detailed text on a wide range of subjects.

… explain a point of view on an issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.

… write clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects related to their interests and an essay or report, passing on information or giving reasons in support of or against a particular point of view. They can write letters highlighting the personal significance of events and experiences.

 

C1 

Advanced is the adjective which is used to describe learners at this language level.
They can …

… understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognise implicit meaning.

… express themselves fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions.

… use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes.

… produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organisational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices.

… express themselves in clear, well-structured text, expressing points of view at some length.

… write about complex subjects in a letter, an essay or a report.

… select style appropriate to the reader in mind.

C2

This level is referred to as mastery level. 
Learners at this language level can …

… understand with ease virtually everything heard or read.

… summarise information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation.

… express themselves spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in more complex situations.

… write clear, smoothly-flowing text in an appropriate style.

… produce complex letters, reports or articles which present a case with an effective logical structure which helps the recipient to notice and remember significant points and write summaries and reviews of professional or literary works.

 

Just by reading through the “can do” statements you can find out for yourself which level of English you have. In case, you’re not sure, then get in touch with us here.

Why is it important to know which level I’m at?

That information will help you in many aspects, here are a few to consider, when …

… applying for a new job or position, your language level can make or break your chances of success
… choosing a language book or course
… you want to obtain a professional language qualification
… improving certain language skills is your priority

 

That just about wraps it up for today

One more thing though, Yvette and I have set up an early interest page for an upcoming programme about perfecting your presentation in English. Check out all the information about it here.

I hope you’ve found this information useful and you’ll join me again for more information, which has helped my students face their challenges in communicating successfully in English and getting their point across.

Have a wonderful time and take care

Nadia

PS If you like what I’ve shared with you and you want to share it, then please do! Have you checked out our podcast yet? You can find it on iTunes and Spotify. Sign up, so you don’t miss the next episode.

 

Remember your Presentation, do not Memorise

remember not memorise

Remember not Memorise

As a trainer I’ve often been asked how I manage to remember my scripts and if I memorise them. Well, honestly no, I don’t memorise them and I don’t think it’s a good strategy. I’ve seen many people try to memorise their presentations and speeches. Only a few people managed to memorise successfully. The majority failed, got stuck and started looking in their heads for the right word and lost their train of thought. Of course, this gives the audience the impression you are unprepared and that you don’t know what you’re talking about. So the trick of being able to give a presentation or speech successfully without using a script or cue cards is to remember your key points or message.

This involves practice as well as a certain level of eloquence.

How do you remember all the details? 

  1. The first step is to clearly understand your topic or message, be an expert in it. If you have done your homework properly around your presentation, you will know what I mean. In case you’re unsure then read this blog post about perfecting your presentation first.
  2. The second step is to define the benefit your audience will have from the information you are giving them.
  3. The final step is to make an outline of your presentation or speech.

1.  Understand your topic

I’m sure you could talk endlessly about your hobby, because you are deeply interested in it. You know everything there is to know about it. Now concerning your presentation or speech topic, try putting in a similar amount of enthusiasm. This requires preparation and practice, however, in return you will receive more confidence and the ability to talk about your topic naturally. 

2. Define the benefit

This can be difficult, as we sometimes assume our audience knows just as much about our topic as we do. Nevertheless, this is a crucial point, which needs your full attention. Once you have defined which benefit or benefits your audience should have from your presentation or speech, you will be able to deliver the necessary information and arguments to help them reach their benefit. 

3. Make an outline 

After understanding your topic and defining the benefit, it’s time to write an outline. You can use one sheet of paper or Post-its and a pen or you use a mind map program. I like using MindMeister.  (If you purchase a subscription using the link, I will receive a commission). Whatever method you decide on, write your defined benefit down first. Now come up with a maximum of three points around the benefit. 

Here is a simple example:

Defined benefit: get water coolers for the employees

  1. First point: drinking enough water keeps you hydrated
  2. Second point: being hydrated helps you concentrate and perform better at work
  3. Third point: better concentration and performance at work leads to higher return on investment 

You see mapping out gives you an exact roadmap and it’ll be quite easy to remember the points. I’ve watched many students give three to four minute presentations during their oral exam using this method. Some prepared one flip chart sheet containing three bullet points. Each bullet point only consisted of one key word, which they used to help them remember their points. Some used samples of their product instead to explain the benefit. They did not memorise their content and they didn’t need cue cards.

In case you’re thinking now that all of them had a very high level of English, actually it differed, however, what they all had in common was, they were all learners of English.  

Why you shouldn’t memorise your script

As mentioned before, I believe memorising your script is a bad idea for different reasons. Here is another one to consider: it’s nearly impossible to change and adapt your content if you’ve memorised it. Imagine you only have five minutes instead of ten or vice versa. What will you do?

That just about wraps it up for today

One more thing though, Yvette and I have set up an early interest page for an upcoming programme about perfecting your presentation in English. Check out all the information about it here.

I hope you’ve found this method useful and you’ll join me again for more tips and solutions, which have helped my students face their challenges in communicating successfully in English and getting their point across.

Have a wonderful time and take care

Nadia

PS If you like what I’ve shared with you and you want to share it, then please do! Have you checked out our podcast yet? You can find it on iTunes and Spotify. Sign up, so you don’t miss the next episode.

 

How can I overcome my nervousness?

Nervousness

This is a new part of the series “How can/do I …?“ questions.

Today I’m covering tips and strategies on how you can overcome nervousness.

Your knees seem to be shaky. Your stomach aches. You start feeling moisture on your palms. You feel like you have a lump in your throat. Your self-esteem has just about reached the lowest level possible. Do these symptoms sound familiar? NERVOUSNESS has taken control of our mind and is ordering our body to play these tricks on us just in time for that important presentation, talk or performance on stage in front of  an audience.

Everyone I’ve talked to (myself included) has had at least one of these symptoms. One thing we all had in common at that moment was that we didn’t want to go through the experience again.

What can you do at this point? How can I overcome nervousness?

Come up with a sorry excuse why you can’t do what you set out to do? Be honest, I’m sure you’ve at least thought of that possibility. I know I have, however, it’s not a solution. What has helped me and my students deal with and overcome nervousness is a combination of different strategies. 

Before diving in to the strategies to overcome and leave nervousness behind you, you should first ask yourself why. Why do you feel like that? If you can identify what is causing you to feel like that, it’ll be easier to control those thoughts that are causing those feelings. Don’t forget we are individuals, so there is not only one correct strategy for everyone. You’ll have to try them out and see which work best for you. 

Nervousness starts in your thoughts, change your thoughts and you change everything

1. Be prepared

Preparation covers putting in all the necessary work to achieve your goal and practicing numerous times. Record yourself while practising. It’ll help you get used to your voice and to discover the power your voice and the pauses have. In the preparation phase you can test everything and see what works best for you and your audience. So, in a nut shell Benjamin Franklin’s quote “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” says it all.

2. Visualise a positive experience

Go to a peaceful place where you can relax and close your eyes. Imagine yourself giving the presentation, talk or performance, which you have practised, in front of your audience. Your audience is looking at you in an admiring and friendly way. They are smiling and nodding to what you are saying. They are listening to you because you are speaking eloquently and making the necessary pauses to keep them engaged. You can see that they believe what you are telling them and that they trust you. You hear their applause and you feel the positive energy. As a result, you feel amazing because of the wonderful outcome. Open your eyes again. You’ve just lived through your challenge and it’s wonderful. By visualising in a positive way your mind will believe you’re remembering something you have already experienced. Try it, possibly you’ll want to do it more often. 

3. Concentrate on your breathing

Before you step in front of your audience, concentrate on your breathing. Take slow and deep breaths. This will get your heart rate down and give you the mindfulness you need to calm down. It’s like a mini meditation. Try it for a few minutes. But be careful, you can also use this method to fall asleep.

4. Assume rapport, talk to your audience like you’ve already met them

This means just before you step in front of your audience you assume you’re talking to your best friend. This will let you feel more relaxed and comfortable. 

5. Be excited

Do you remember when you were a child, how you felt before your birthday or Christmas? Excitement feels a lot like nervousness. We get excited about positive things. Tell yourself you’re excited not nervous, after all it is something positive.

6. Recognise your strengths

Sometimes we get nervous because we don’t believe in our abilities and strengths. Others seem to, that’s why you were chosen to give the presentation or talk. Recognise, perceive and use your strengths.

7. Be courageous

Step out of your comfort zone and accept the challenge. Put on your cape, be your own superhero and defeat those negative thoughts that cause nervousness.

8. Positive body language

There are different methods to achieve a positive body language. You can stretch and use a power pose, i.e. raise your fists in the air and jump as if you’ve just crossed the finish line. You can listen to your personal power song and do your happy dance. Whatever it takes to put you into a positive state go for it. If you stand straight in front of your audience, you will ray out confidence and your voice will have more space. Wearing a smile on your face will increase the endorphins, which will make you feel calm and good about yourself. Besides a natural reaction to a smile is to smile back. Try it out, you’ll be surprised.

9. Arrive early

Get to the venue early. Not only can you test everything one last time, you can also meet and talk to the attendees before you start. Look for things you have in common. Find someone nice you can look at during the first two minutes of your presentation or talk. 

10. Worst case

What is the worst that can happen? Is it really that bad? Is it the end of the world? Or is it something you could smile away and start over? Don’t forget we’re all human. Most people in your audience aren’t there to see you fail, they’re there because they are interested in your topic or in you. Concentrate on them and be yourself. 

Those are my favourite strategies to deal with and overcome nervousness. Do you have any you’d like to share? Then please do!

That just about wraps it up for today

One more thing though, Yvette and I have set up an early interest page for an upcoming programme about perfecting your presentation in English. Check out all the information about it here.

 

I hope you’ve found these strategies useful and you’ll join me again for more tips and solutions, which have helped my students face their challenges in communicating successfully in English and getting their point across.

 

Have a wonderful time and take care

Nadia

PS If you like what I’ve shared with you and you want to share it, then please do! Have you checked out our podcast yet? You can find it on iTunes and Spotify. Sign up, so you don’t miss the next episode.