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Top 5 tips to improve English skills in the Australian professional environment

Feeling not confident at the work place because of your language skills? Do you refrain from speaking up at meetings as you are not sure if you can say what you need to say appropriately? Feel a bit left out when colleagues go out for coffee and struggle to engage in a conversation? Here are top 5 tips from our experienced English tutor to get you started…

Mastering the English spoken in professional environments is a process unique to each individual, different as each office’s and person’s needs will be. But some steps remain universal, and in following them, and adopting a mindset that is always looking to learn, you will see yourself improve.

Read, listen, and watch how you want to speak. Copy from the best, and you will follow in their footsteps. It is easier to incorporate the below into your everyday life to learn faster and with less effort:

  1. Read books, articles, opinion pieces etc. specific to your field of work so you know how your peers write, learn the fundamental vocabularies you need, know how to write in your job, and are learned in your field of study. Put what you learn from this into practice by then writing your own ideas in their style.
  2. Listen to podcasts, to debates, to TED Talks, again specific to your field so you are informed, but also so you know how the best of your peers express their ideas. Take note of their vocabulary, their word choices, the way they phrase their sentences, and their tone of voice, then copy them. Practice this by expressing your own ideas in the way they do and debating against them.
  3. Watch documentaries, YouTube videos, and TV shows, again to know your work well, but also to learn what the body does when we speak. Understand the confident employee’s open posture and steady gaze and the shy employee’s rounded shoulders and wandering eyes. Understand how people respond to body language, what spoken words match what expressions, and understand how and when is best to use all of it. Observe what language is appropriate in what situations; when to crack a joke, when to just listen, and when to offer an apology. Be conscious of these things when you speak, and you will put it into practice in your day-to-day exchanges.
  4. Seek help from colleagues. When you need to write an email, ask a colleague to read it over for you. If you are giving a presentation, ask a colleague to help you go through it and give you feedback. Ask for advice about workplace manner from your seniors, from those who’ve experienced success, and from people in positions you would like to be in in the future.
    Make friends at the workplace, the kind you can make mistakes with and who will help correct you on those mistakes. Learn from them and seek guidance from them when you need it. These relationships will help you improve more than anything else.
  5. Most important of all is practice. Practice writing in all different styles for all different situations – you will be writing emails, text messages, and reports. Practice speaking and listening. Have conversations with seniors, juniors, and peers, about work, family, and weekends, remembering to listen, and take note of what makes those conversations good or bad. You will need all levels of language to perform best in a professional environment.

Remain disciplined, diligent, and persevere, and you will see the improvements you want.

Last note, treat this as part of learning the new culture of Australia
and discovering new interests as opposed to simply improving your
English levels – it will be more fun and enjoyable, and less of a chore.

Written by Conor. Q| English | Sirius Learning, Sydney NSW 2000

Conor is an experienced English tutor/mentor who is a freelance writer
and has recently worked in Taiwan as an English teacher. Conor has been
studying a Bachelors of Arts, majoring in language, at the University of
Sydney. He is a well-rounded writer of fiction, essays and prose and is
currently working to have his first novel published. He has had a wide
range of teaching experience since 2010, has taught over 40 students
with varying degrees of English proficiency and finds great satisfaction
in determining the best learning path for each of his students. His
strength is his patience and ability to pinpoint exactly what a student
needs to gain confidence in the professional environment.

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