Unlearning for a better career

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A Business English class can be tricky as the learners come with various expectations. Most of them are working professionals, who may be conversant in their field of work, but lack the requisite English skills. Some of the reasons why a learner joins a Business English class are:

  • To crack an interview
  • To get a promotion
  • To be able to give a presentation
  • To improve communication skills
  • To be able to write an e-mail

As you can see, more often than not, their careers depend on the amount of improvement that they have shown in their language. Hence, they have very specific needs and limited time to address them, making it challenging for both the trainer as well as the learner. The greatest challenge for a Business English learner is to unlearn – they are expected to let go of years of conditioning in a span of a few hours.

What is unlearning?

The famous American Writer, Mark Twain said,

“It ain’t what you know that gets you in trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

“Unlearning” means to erase what you know and accept something new.

Have you ever wondered why it’s easier for kids to learn a new language than adults? It’s because their mind is a blank slate, and whatever they learn, is something new. As adults, we need to unlearn in order to learn something new.

The word “fresher” for example, is widely used in India, for job seekers, who have just completed their college education. The correct word to use here would be a “graduate”. In order to acquire this new word, we will first have to stop using the word “fresher” – this is what is unlearning.

How do we unlearn?

Though there is no specific method of unlearning, there are a few things that always work:

  1. Being aware – Awareness is the key to unlearning. The more knowledge you gain, the more open you become to new ideas.
  2. Question yourself – Questioning your knowledge, often leads you to new avenues, which you may not have thought about.
  3. Learn to accept your mistakes – As adults, we often let our ego come in the way of learning. Learning to accept our mistakes and correcting those helps us become much better learners.

Let’s embark on the journey of unlearning together!

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