I attended English courses in my company for about 9 months. For this time I learnt a lot of new stuff, and revisited whole bunch of grammar. Also I slightly increased my vocabulary.
I’ve mentioned many times that English courses are very important for outsourcing company and for me particularly. I even described one of the lessons and recommended some activities to do to learn English.
So this is very good result, but unfortunately my average score is about 80%, so I might not be eligible for next free of charge course. But honestly I do not hurry for being English course’s student for another 9 months. It makes me tired… because I have to allocate additionally 4-5 hours per week and as usual I rob it from my sleep hours. I think that the next most needed thing for me is to practice more and more. Actually I even planned to find someone who would like to talk with me in English all the time. Not my girl – she is more German expert and weak in English, and not my best friend – he is too shy or smth..
I have few posts on learning English and its importance for software engineer. For example my article “English classes in outsourcing company” became very popular for some reason, at least feedburner states that it was viewed 130 times and I got some feedback from at least 4 people on that post.
This post is also about English but this time it is very short. I just want to recommend one of the English podcasts. It is called:
I’ve been listening to this podcast for a few weeks and I would say that this is great and awesome tool to learn English and to understand lot of worlds usage deeply. I’m listening to it when getting to the work and back from it.
Ok, for example, do you know what does “to pimp the car” means? Ok let start with noun – “pimp”, which means bad guy who supervises prostitutes, but when we use it as verb it could literally mean to do what pimp does, but in application to car it means to add many different features to it and make it looking awesome or maybe not really awesome. You decide: Google search images
And that is not all – podcast just brings lot of interesting stuff you may learn to better understand not only English but USA as well, also differences between British and USA English.
Guys, from ESLPOD thank you very much!!!
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.
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:
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.
Today’s lesson was not usual. My usual teacher is in vacation, so we have conference calls and we are trying to imitate different situations during conf. calls.
Initially there was an agreement with the Client for a particular scope of project. After some time the Client adds more features that require additional time for investigation and execution – in particular he wants to change the user interface (UI) from HTML to FLEX. It’s high time to start working on user interface but the Client is silent regarding reconsideration of the agreement terms. Project Manager has to take charge of conducting a negotiation with the Client and decides to invite Tech Lead, QA and Senior Developer for that.
Roles has been assigned to students. And initially I got TL role, but when we dialed up we discovered that 3 of us are not present, so teacher decided that I could take 3 roles in one time.
Roles are following:
Tech Lead: You do not know FLEX and you do not have time to study it because it is time consuming. But you believe that it is possible to fulfill all the requirements if your PM can find a specialist in that technology and make him TL of that part of the project.
Senior Developer: You have used FLEX before. You are not an expert in it but you can do the task. However, you require more time (you have your own tasks which you have to finish in time) and you also need more people. Anyway, there should be reconsideration of the agreement terms.
QA: You know that whenever a new feature is added, it always involves adding test cases and plans rewriting. You are 100% sure that this change will require extra effort for testing. Besides, the integration of a new feature will lead to the additional integration testing.
I was trying to be in all of them and I would say that I succeeded in those.One of interesting things about this is that I was dialing from my desk, and one of the colleagues was really confused about what I’m talking out there… Maybe he was concerned if I’m not mad, but teacher said that it was tremendous :)
I got a lot of fun and I really appreciate that my company game me possibility to learn English in lot of fun and enjoyable ways.
Point 6 in my Where Do You Want to Be In a Year? is:
“Improve my English skills to have at least upper-intermediate strong level (according to my company graduating)”
Previous Level: Intermediate
Last year my level was evaluated as Intermediate, but since that time I had a lot of experience of communication with native speakers. So I was pure much sure that my language is improved. I requested reevaluation, which occurred last week.
How was it?
I’ve drank too much coffee before came for my reevaluation, so my voice was a bit hoarse. Not a plus.
We spoke a bit, I mentioned about that I requested this reevaluation and why do I need that. Then she gave me feedback and proposed me to pass some test.
Before test she said that my English level is not upper-intermediate definitely :( , and she explained why:
1) I repeated same words to much.
2) I do not use enough adjectives.
3) My speech is not fluent.
For upper-intermediate my English should be fluent!
Exercise for me
When I speak I should think not only about what I speak, but also how I speak.
Current Level: Intermediate Strong
Also, I’m eligible for English courses in my company, so I moved to upper-intermediate course. This means that course could improve my skills to that level, of course if I’ll be a good student. I really need this study, even if it will be taking some time. I know that to compel myself learning that alone will not succeed. I’ve decided that course will help me with this just fine.
I’m on the way to have desired level of English, so will learn hard to have
Future Level: Upper-Intermediate Strong