Given the current international climate, some of you may be travelling while others have decided to stay closer to home this year, whichever it may be, you can skill use the time, away from work and the stresses of everyday life, to work on your communication and ESL skills.
Yes, you can study at home with grammar and course books, but as you know, we at British Community believe in practical solutions to develop your English language abilities.
In order for the following to work, the secret sauce is encouraging yourself to interact with people, no matter what the outcome, positive or negative, because either way, it will help develop your confidence and linguistic skills. No matter how hard it is to speak to someone you don’t know, use the context as the very reason for doing so, whether you’re in a café, on a city-tour or in an ESL classroom.
Here are some useful suggestions you can adopt to ensure effective communication on your travels.
1. Ask open-ended questions
By asking a closed question, you may unintentionally prompt people to say “yes” or “okay” — even if they have no idea what you just said. Instead, opt for open-ended questions to receive a full, clear answer which you can then follow up or expand on with further questions.
2. Keep things simple
Asking open-ended questions doesn’t mean you have to complicate things unnecessarily. Keep your vocabulary simple and stick to one question at a time so everyone stays on the same page. Don’t try to use sophisticated phrases or remember grammar structures, just enjoy the conversation and moment with a new person.
3. Use body language
Up to 93% of communication is non-verbal. So, take advantage of gestures and facial expressions to get your points across. It is suggested by communication experts that subtly copying the other person’s body language helps create rapport and connection which will ultimately lead to a better and more enjoyable English conversation.
There’s no shame in noting a word or phrase question down on your phone (or with pen and paper) if things are getting lost in translation. Thanks to the technology you’re most likely carrying in your pocket, you’re a few clicks away from a translated phrase (we don’t recommend this) or looking up the word you can’t think of (we do recommend this).
Otherwise, keep it old school and carry a small notebook and pen. If it worked for Hemmingway, it can work for you J Make use of the tools available!
5. Be smart about who you ask for help
Nobody wants to judge a book by its cover, but sometimes when we’re traveling we have no choice. People under 30 and hospitality and catering workers are more likely to be used to talking with tourists and stand a better chance of understanding you, so invent a reason to approach and engage with them, “Can you help me….” or , “Where is the best place to…” are very simple but effective open questions that can lead to conversation. Try them!