Since each software company wants to develop into huge one and be evident player in the IT industry, managers work on improving skills of the personal. For not English speaking country, as Ukraine, it is quite critical for the employees to know English well. That is why many companies are investing money on creating English courses.

Half of the English courses, I’m attending are left and I would like to provide some feedback that can be useful for my teacher, for people who are attending courses, and for anyone else who is working in outsourcing software company in non-English speaking country.

I’ve been attending regular Upper-Intermediate course for about 4 months and I see many advantages of it, but classes do not bring as much value for my work, as I’m expecting to get.

Difficulties

Why don’t classes bring enough value for my everyday work?

First and the major reason is that subject of our studies is completely unrelated to matters we are encountering during daily work. For example one of the latest chapters of our student’s book was “Literature”. For me it was the worst chapter in that book. I’m not keen on literature, so maybe that is the reason why I was so much bored with that chapter. Maybe, but if we take a look at this from other side asking ourselves question “Which value does chapter about literature can bring to software guys?” my statement about that being worst chapter doesn’t look ridiculous. Except of some out of the common situations, like dinner with client or library software solution, literature topics bring small value. I do not say that it is bad to have such topics; I say that to some extent it is waste of time which could be consumed by learning other more interesting stuff.

Gap between engineers and English teachers

More over I think that I understand why this gap exists – because people who created study books are from another life area than software guys are. They are academic guys, they write articles and some fiction stories. On another hand we have software engineers who develop programs and discuss them, who look bit prosy for others, but we know what we know.

For example, I often watch different programming video. Guru speak about new frameworks coming soon, about mature approaches to building software, they show best practices and design patterns. Surprisingly I understand absolutely everything from their speech (maybe 1-2 words per minute missed). Why? Because they operate with words and terms I’m using in everyday work and because I’m interested to hear things they say. On one of the lessons we had listening practice, where guy talked about the train in Asia, and how some lady brought insects on plate for eating and about wooden sticks and bla-bla… Question is: why on earth I need this?

Advantages, Improvements, Thoughts…

Is everything so much bad?

No, of course, no! Main point of my previous paragraph is that classes are not 100% concentrated on needs of software engineers.

These classes bring lot for my general understanding of English Language. I now feel more confident in using perfect tenses and different grammar. Classes are great revision of the grammar, that you learnt at some time and then have forgotten.

On my previous Performance Appraisal I got remark from client, that my English has improved. I should thank my company for giving me opportunity to learn English.

Improvements to regular courses that I see are:

Have brief review of the upcoming topics and find out if people are interested in them. If not maybe it worth to provide one-two lessons that do not belong to regular course, like one lesson of “listening & speaking” one lesson for grammar one for video, after that proceed with further chapters. Get feedback from people. Btw: I really appreciate, that my teacher asked for feedback. You rock! I know that feedback is the most reinforcing way of improvements.

Course I’m attending is comprehensive (learnt this word at classes :)) set of activities, but I would really like to see more speaking. Make people speak more, and provide feedback on that only after person finished. I would like to see it more regulated. Make everyone speak.

Make some friendly-competitive environment. I’m kind of person who would like to win some rewards, like “Best presentations deliverer”. For now I would win only “Most Thursday lessons missed” – 9AM is too early for owl.

Have some home activities that differs from usual, like ask for watching some film and provide review for the students. Or simply let people introduce and explain their duties in company. That should be interesting.

Additional learning is needed

As per me it is required to work on English by your own and simultaneously attend classes. How does it work?
English teachers are the best in their understanding of grammar. Particularly my teacher can explain tenses just terrifically. Your everyday work doesn’t require complex grammar to be used, but nothing restricts you from doing that. Simply start listening to your clients more attentively and catch the smallest matters they say. Write more clean and sophisticated letters. Now you have theoretical knowledge, go and use.

My list of activities I do for learning English:

  • Attending English classes and catching grammar at daily work
  • Using theoretical knowledge in your daily work. Why not write two-three words to build more complex and correct sentences that can emphasize your e-mail.
  • Reading huge dozen of articles. I read technical only, and tech books in original.
  • Watching tech video. I just love watching it.
  • Watch with beer and friend movies you have already seen translated.
  • Watch without beer movies for the first time. Even if you understand little; low of average works – the more films you watch the more words you intuitively understand.
  • Find someone who will likely be talking with you in English during the day. I’m happy that I have colleague, who talks to me in English. We have fun. 
  • Write something. I write blog posts, that is also asset to my learning.

Conclusion

English classes are definitely needed for the software company. And I really enjoy attending them, but hate that they suck time that I need for my sleep and dislike that they are not software-related, but I try to understand this. I see some improvements, biggest part of them are applicable to our courses, but not necessary near to wishes of other students. As always everything depends on your desire to work, so I have my own list of activities I do for learning English.

Please let me know your thoughts about said above.

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