I had an opportunity to teach business English to the engineers in one of the IT companies, Supai Infotech. The class was a witty bunch of enthusiastic techies. The communication skills training was arranged not only because of the director of the organization bust also because the engineers had expressed their interest towards attending communication skills courses.
The quality of speaking and writing of the participants was certainly not bad. Corporate training for employees has gone far beyond mere speaking and writing.
What would a techie speak to a customer if he doesn’t understand what a customer says?
Some of the engineers were able to speak and write without grammatical errors but were not able to comprehend American, British and Australian accents.
One of the major focus areas for the communication skills course we designed for them was to help them understand the native speakers’ accent. We had several communication skills activities on listening and understanding native speakers’ accent. We didn’t target making the participants speak like native speakers nor is that the expectation from the industry.
Primary objective of the communication skills was to address the fact that sometimes the engineers did not understand what the customers said. At times the customers did not understand what the engineers said as well.
Course content based on current level
From the pre assessment which was conducted before the communication skills training, we understood that some of the native speakers are not able to understand what the engineers speak. This happened because of the pace at which they speak the mother tongue influence the pronunciation and sentence construction. We conducted various activities to help the participants to overcome these issues. Pronunciation gets better with listening. Hence, we introduced some listening exercises in this phase of the training as well.
In the 40 hour communication skills course we designed for the team, we also covered a wide range of topics, such as presentation skills (body language, voice modulation and content), Email etiquette (Sentence construction, avoiding literal translation, punctuation, assertive ways to communicate sensitive messages) and call etiquette (pronunciation, courtesy and professionalism, fluency and tone of voice).
At the end of the 40 hour course, we found a significant change in the way the participants used business and English. After several fluency activities, almost every participant was prepared for public speaking. The level of confidence had certainly gone above.