Tag Archives: communication assessments

3V English Communication Assessment (ECA) Template

I have been invited to speak at TESL Canada on the topic of Business English Fundamentals, and how to teach them in the classroom or at the office.  Assessments are a key player in communication coaching and corporate training success.  Simply speaking, the formula is “Assessment = Training Program = ROI measurement.”  When choosing or designing your assessment, please consider the needs of the person/organization that hired you.  Ensure the assessment is Client AND/OR company needs-based, as sometimes you need to cover both needs in one assessment tool.  What does “writing” mean to them? Or ‘speaking’ or ‘communication’? We need to be clear and specific in the assessment so it’s accurate and effective!

Here is a sample of a 3V ECA, previously used in our corporate training programs:

Part One: Grammar – identify the spelling, grammar and/or punctuation mistake(s) and correct them (ten sentences)
1. I have study English for 7 years now, so far.
2. You need to working on your accent man. Its thick!
3. Did you know that the cats can see in the dark? A animal like that is great!
4. I board a plane last night at 3 in the a.m. And so, now, I’m so tired.
5. What is your area of expertize? Can you help me with this calculations?

Part Two: Everyday Idioms – what do these expressions mean? Please write short definitions. (fifteen)
1. The real McCoy
2. The cat’s out of the bag
3. We’re up the creek
4. He works like a dog
5. Bookworm

Part Three: Humour – explain why these jokes are funny. Short answers please. (three)
1. A horse walks into a bar. The bartender asks “why the long face?”

Part Four: Short story – Please write a short story explaining in detail what you do at work, and how communication plays a role. Minimum 3 paragraphs.

Part Five: Interview – short Q & A to evaluate comprehension, pronunciation, conciseness etc.

If you have any questions about designing or using assessments in your training, or if you are part of an organization that would benefit from communication skills assessments, do not hesitate to contact me!  🙂

5 Tips for Finding a New (Communication) Coach

Agreeing on a Coaching Plan

Agreeing on a Coaching Plan

It can be difficult to find the perfect coach for you when you’ve never done it before.  There are many types of coaches, with various backgrounds and different areas of specialization.  Here are some quick tips to get you started on the right foot:

1 – self-assess your needs first.  Be as specific as possible on current challenges, and goals you need to accomplish in order to feel improvement was made.  Don’t just rely on a company’s assessment tools.  They may not have them, or they may be general.  Compare your assessment with theirs!

2 – Google search for a coach or training company using the specific area targeted for improvement, like ‘communication coach’, ‘presentation coach’, ‘executive management coach’, ‘confidence coach’ etc.  See what comes up on the first page and then explore their sites/profiles/articles.  Go deep, beyond the company/coach website.  This is important.

3 – You can choose a company that has a good reputation for providing training but ultimately you will still need to choose an individual coach.  When the company recommends a certain coach for your program, ask for a bio document or their LinkedIn profile so you can see what type of person they are recommending for you.  Next arrange a free consultation with the coach (20 minute phone/Skype call or a longer in-person meeting) to see if there is a ‘fit’ in both comfort and strategy to solve your challenges.

4 – Ensure you and the coach/coaching company have agreed on the top priorities to focus the coaching on, and then get it in writing.  Companies should have some kind of proposal or coaching agreement they can send to you that outlines the coaching focus, program/curriculum specifics, price, location and other policies to be aware of.

5 – Give it a go!  A coach is a partner, not a teacher.  They will help you achieve your goals if you put in equal effort.  If for some reason the coaching is not working out, check your coaching agreement to see if you can modify the program or even switch coaches.  After all, if you are not energized and happy, it will be very difficult to face your challenges and move beyond them.
Good luck!

Tips for Teaching Business English (For TESL Ontario Members)

BusinessEnglishAs an active member of TESL (Teacher of English as a Second Language) Ontario I recently contributed my years of knowledge and experience training ESL clients and hosted a Professional Development webinar called Tips for Teaching Business English Students & Immigrants.  It ran live on July 26 2015 but it is now archived and available to those current members of TESL Ontario who wish to increase their Professional Development hours.  You can find it by signing up/in to your www.Tutela.ca  account, going to (or joining) the TESL Ontario group, and then searching under Files until you find my PowerPoint presentation under ‘Webinar Gen 10’.  You will see the ‘live’ version slides and hear our voices as though you attended the webinar on July 26th!   This webinar will be of particular interest to those currently teaching business or workplace English, or to anyone looking to expand beyond mainstream ESL teaching.  You will also learn tips about teaching communication skills to foreign workers and working immigrants.

Here is the original ad:

Webinar Description:   Ric Phillips will present this webinar. Ric will share tips on how to effectively teach business English students and immigrants (for example at LINC, post-secondary or corporate training). He will note differences in learning expectations, recommend materials, and provide templates for creating your own assessments. This webinar is ideal for teachers who are transitioning to Business English, Workplace ESL, or corporate training.

Presenter’s Bio:   Starting in 1998, Ric Phillips successfully transitioned his career from ESL teacher to Business English teacher & Academic Coordinator. He founded his own company where he is currently a coach and trainer in business communication skills for working immigrants and foreign workers.

Follow Ric on Twitter: @CommCoach

Why Teaching Idioms (Slang, Expressions) is Important in Business English

Like many of you I have a profile on the networking site LinkedIn. (You can find me at http://www.linkedin.com/in/communicationcoach )  One of the benefits of LinkedIn is becoming a member of a group related to our fields or interests.  I subscribe to a number of groups, and sometimes feel compelled to add my two cents to the discussions.  A few days ago was one of those times that I thought I could contribute.

In the group Business English Instructors, someone opened a discussion about President Obama’s recent slip-up when he mixed a Star Wars and a Star Trek pop culture reference together during a speech.  (The exact expression he created was “a jedi mind-meld.”)

This posting in LinkedIn led to a discussion amongst the members of the Business English teaching community to debate the virtues of teaching or not teaching idioms, slang and pop culture references in their BE (Business English) classes.

I felt that due to my direct experience with teaching idioms I should reply, and so I did.  Below is a copy of my comment on the subject, which may interest some of you:

“The question a teacher or trainer needs to ask is “what is the operating language of this location?”  When I was teaching English in China a long long time ago there was very little need for idioms to be taught. The focus was on getting students to pass exams and communicate on a certain level with other Chinese or some foreign teachers, in China. The operating language was ‘functional and academic’ English, for the most part, and I adjusted my conversations and teaching style to match.

But when I was asked to do manager training many years later in Moscow, Russia, part of the requested curriculum was to teach business expressions and cultural notes to the North American style of office communications. They ‘operated’ in English with North Americans and some British, and wanted to better understand their counterparts’ words and culture.

As a Communication Coach working mostly in Toronto and the surrounding area, a number of my clients are immigrants and foreign workers. Typically they have excellent hard skills and education, but often lack the soft skills we would like them to have to fit in. I know that sounds harsh, but it is an unspoken reality – we want them to understand us and our way of business communications here. This is the location. This is where business is done. You need to understand us and our way of doing things.

I often teach everyday and business idioms and expressions to clients, even if it is for just 10 minutes at the beginning of the session, as a warm up. They want to be better equipped for the water cooler as well as the boardroom. Ignoring idioms and pop culture references limits their ability to build relationships, to fully understand those around them, to join in the discussion, to understand the nuances and contexts of conversations, etc. Remember – I am talking about working here in Toronto’s business world, not overseas.

As a last morsel of food for thought, I’ll share this with you too: When my company created an English Communication Skills Assessment for a prominent police service to be used in conjunction with the hiring process, idioms and expressions were tested for, in addition to the usual suspects of grammar, spelling, reading comprehension, writing and speaking/listening. Why would we do this? Because we were told by senior training officers that they found it frustrating when they spoke to new recruits in a casual, informal way (i.e. with idioms and slang) and some newbies didn’t understand them, and it slowed down communication. When you think about the seriousness of policing, you might imagine how miscommunication could impact the lives and the safety of officers and the public.

I know on one hand it sounds too strict or maybe too much focus is being given to idioms, but I think when you consider how prominent idioms, slang, lingo and pop culture references really are, especially in an English-speaking operating country/company, you will realize the benefits of teaching them to those that could use the knowledge to improve their personal and professional lives.”

Develop HR, Management and Entrepreneur Skills

As a member of HRPA (Human Resources Professionals Association – http://www.hrpa.ca/hrpa )
I receive regular emails and mailings with information about new services, service providers and detailed Human Resource articles.

Here is something that looks interesting and apparently is free.

http://www.essentialskillsthatwork.com

I am not affiliated with them – I just thought I would pass on their website as it looks good.
Here is a little bit I have copied from their ‘About Us’ page:

The Essential Skills for the Changing Workplace Project

In January, 2008, the Centre for Education and Training received funding from HRSDC for a project called Essential Skills for the Changing Workplace. The project is designed to assist employers in small and mid-size organizations with the integration of Essential Skills into their workplace and human resources practices.

Free Seminars

To increase awareness and understanding of Essential Skills, the Centre is offering free 2-hour seminars for human resources managers, training managers, line managers, operations managers, supervisors, team leaders, coordinators with people management responsibilities and small business owners. During this interactive seminar, managers will gain a thorough understanding of the Essential Skills framework and a variety of Essential Skills tools to assist in:

conducting Essential Skills needs assessments
writing job descriptions that show how workers use Essential Skills on-the-job
integrating Essential Skills into hiring and selection processes
aligning performance goals with the employee’s use of Essential Skills
developing succession plans to ensure employees are ready for new roles as the need for new skills arises
promoting health and safety in the workplace
Free Consulting Services

Besides attending an informative seminar, participants will have access to an Essential Skills Workplace Consultant, free of charge, to guide them in determining their skill needs, identifying resources and local services that provide assessment and training and identifying Essential Skills tools to best suit their requirements.

If this looks interesting to you, please check them out, or pass it on to someone who might want to take advantage of free HR training. I might sign up for a free seminar myself!

Coach Ric