Before choosing a language training provider, some businesses believe they have an idea of what their employees think about learning English as a second language. Bosses might overhear negative whispers from intimidated employees or get enthusiastic feedback from eager go-getters. Alternatively, the office atmosphere might simply be unreadable.
To help understand what it’s like to be a student of English for business reasons, we interviewed some of our students in Malaysia. These five young adults are taking Infinitum’s online English lessons in a bid to help them ease into the world of international business.
Students’ feelings and apprehensions about studying English are often incredibly similar. Issues with confidence, worries about competing with colleagues and fear of an inability to learn are not uncommon.
ASMA, Marketing Student
What is your level of English?
I think my level of English is very low because I can’t speak English fluently and I don’t have confidence in speaking…
IRFAN, Accounting Student
Tell me about your journey with English before this program.
I used to speak English at home. I used to watch English movies, English talk shows, podcasts… I do not read much English.
AYUNI, Accounting Student
Before starting the program, what difficulties did you have with English?
I’m so shy to talk in English and I don’t have any confidence to talk in English.
Why don’t you have confidence?
Because I think I am so bad at speaking. … I have a very, very, very bad grammar. …I think I need thousands of classes.
How is your writing?
Oh my god, my writing is so bad!
Everyone remembers their favorite teacher. The value of a good English teacher is something that never fades.
How has the program helped you so far?
It helps a lot because, as an example… I really suck at grammar but [my teacher] always corrects me. She lets me finish what I’ve said and… she will not disturb me or stop me… She lets me finish first, she will remember what I said and she [will] highlight it.
NATASHA, Administrative Secretarial Student
How do you feel about the teachers?
The teachers are great. They… teach me a lot about how to improve my grammar and, of course, my speaking and they’ve been great with me. Also, they give me a lot of compliments and I feel happy about it and very good.
NADIA, Multimedia Creative Animation Student
Tell me about what you’ve studied.
Yesterday my class with [my teacher] continued as we learned grammar structures. We’ve learned about present continuous tenses. I’ve learned about my usage of prepositions, and I’ve already created at least four essays for her that we’ve gone through. …I’m hoping that we get to continue to review one of my speeches…
What do you like about your teacher?
He is very supportive (sic) and friendly. He is very kind because he always helps me to make a sentence to answer his questions.
What did you learn in your classes?
I learned how to write a resume [and] I learned how to speak in English with confidence.
A good online course could change a learner’s attitude towards English and improve their self-esteem and belief in their abilities.
Two weeks into the program, how is it going?
I feel confident to speak English.
Do you feel more confident speaking in English?
Yes, I think I feel a lot more confident when speaking with foreigners or going to an interview.
Would you recommend online programs for other students?
Of course, because it can build your confidence and improve your English.
We were happy to find that our students had individual goals and reasons for studying English.
How do you think English will help you?
I think most… No, it’s not most, I think all accounting degrees use English and [so] I need to learn more about English.
What do you hope to achieve through English?
I hope to achieve using English to express and communicate in a natural way.
What do you hope to take away from your 1-2-1 lessons?
I really hope that I can read without sticking (sic) at every word I read. I just hope that I can speak English fluently.
So there you have it. Being a student of English for business reasons carries a different kind of pressure than being one out of interest. Your employees might feel a range of stresses revolving around their requirement to learn the language, similar to those our students face. You can read more about that in our blog, How to Overcome the Challenges of Implementing English in a Business.