Every time I have a new client, I ask them the following question:
“Why do you need English?”
People have different answers. Some people are studying for the TOEIC or TOEFL. Some people want to be able to communicate better. Some people want to be able to give a presentation in perfect English for more than 30 minutes. Point being, I have a lot of different clients and they want English for a lot of different purposes. And finding out why they want to study English helps me teach them, and helps them further develop their needs.
Have a goal in your studying is important – even fundamental. If you have a clear goal, you will know exactly what milestones you need to reach as you continue to study and improve. Things will be a lot easier for you to progress if you know what you are progressing towards.
So how do you figure out what you need?
This is a good question to ask, and I picked up a great answer from my fellow teacher Thomas. English is a very broad topic. Business English is also very broad – just look at some of the topics covered on our website so far. And this is just the very tip of the iceberg.
So how do you figure it out? Here are a few questions to ask, as suggested by Thomas.
- What is your job? Obvious but important. Try thinking of all the roles and responsibilities for your job. Do you need to communicate with foreign clients? Do you need to read the latest developments and publications, which are only written in English? This helps frame the next question
- How do you use English for your job? Of all your roles and responsibilities in your job, how many actually require English? And how much can you use your native language or mother tongue? Is it a lot or not a lot? It may turn out that you don’t need English that much at the moment. Maybe you need to prepare your English for a job interview in the future. Maybe the only time you really use English is when you watch your favorite American drama. So that can further help your studies by not making you stress out. You’ve got time. Stress has been found to lower test scores in children. The same can certainly happen for adults.
- Can you explain your job in English? This is a bit of a test. Try giving a job summary to either yourself or to another person in English. What are you tripping up on? What are you able to explain well? You can figure out what you need work on by reflecting on your own mistakes in your summary. You will have a clear target on what you need to improve.
The idea here is to understand why you need English, define your needs, and target the things you need to improve in order to be successful at speaking English. That being said, if you would like to say why you want to learn English, feel free to email us or comment on this article. I’d love to hear from you all.
milestone – (n.) an important event or development during a longer term period.
broad – (adj.) general and unspecific.
the tip of the iceberg – (idiom) a small part of something that is largely hidden.
to frame – (v.) to arrange or adjust for a purpose; to establish a backstory or more information for something.
to progress – (v.) to further develop, to become better.
to turn out – (v.) to be discovered, to happen.
to trip up on – (v.) to make a mistake on something.