Case study – Business English for an Energy Solutions Consultant

Business English for Professionals

Sometimes we are so surprised when a skilled professional asks us for help with their English.  This was definitely the case when I met a Sri Lakan national, who was working for a city council as an Energy Solutions Consultant.

He had been a resident in Australia for 18 years and was  well-educated and highly skilled in his area of expertise.

What skilled professionals are looking for:

This professional came to us because he wanted to write better reports, and be more engaging and feel more confident while presenting in meetings. It was clear from the start that he was well able to undertake the tasks needed in his work; however, he was dissatisfied with his English proficiency and wanted to be as good as his children, who were in tertiary education in Australia. There was no lack of motivation and he was a delight to teach and willing to put effort, time and money into achieving his goals.

The needs we analysed

In his work, it was important to collate a lot of information and present this in a cohesive and clear manner in his written reports and presentations to stakeholders.

Although demonstrating dexterity with his language resources, using a wide range of vocabulary and grammatical structures, it was evident that there were grammar errors, which appeared to be habitual.  Although he used headings, sub-headings, bullet points and numbering to organise his writing, there was a tendency to write lengthy sentences.  A clear need for a stronger grasp on how to use commas, semi-colons and colons to aide clarity for the reader, became one of the aims.

He spoke fluently and with little hesitation about his work.  The main strain for the listener was a tendency to sound monotonous, due to  a lack of emphatic stress and intonation to sign post main points and change of focus.

The  lessons

Once we had analysed the needs, we wrote a detailed language needs analysis and planned a series of 6 lessons as outlined on our Business English page. These lessons were organised at a convenient time and we looked forward to meeting week by week.

The lessons had clear aims and a varied focus and were a lot of fun.  We reviewed grammar points and practised for more accuracy.  He  practised his presentations with his tutor and we recorded these for review together.  Improving his pronunciation through specific practice was integrated throughout the lessons with some focus on particular sounds, word stress, sentence stress and intonation.

After input into written tasks, we set written tasks for homework and reviewed these together for suggested improvement.

The Outcomes

We are proud to say that through this short series of lessons he  gained confidence and his written and spoken communication improved.  He left us with more awareness and the ability to reflect on his own use of language and the impact this has on the successful communication of important ideas and information. He continues to expand his projects and present his solutions with great success in implementing Solar energy on large buildings all around Melbourne.