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  • Three business people walking through a hallway smilng
    • Business and employability

    The value of language skills in the workplace

    Language skills have become increasingly important in the workplace as the world becomes more globalized and connected. Having the ability to communicate effectively in more than one language is very valuable, and with English being a leading lingua franca for businesses across the world, language skills sit at the heart of business success.

    Here we highlight four top reasons why language skills are so valuable in the workplace.

    Enhanced communication

    Effective communication is the number one soft skill that employers look for, according to LinkedIn. Having strong language skills enables better communication with clients and colleagues, and also helps to work effectively with people from different cultures. It builds solid relationships and reduces frustration where customers or colleagues may otherwise feel that they are not understood or listened to.

    Career opportunities

    Having different languages on your CV can really help to stand out among other candidates. For some industries it is essential, such as tourism, where it is necessary to serve clients from different countries, and this is also true where companies serve clients in international markets.

    Where businesses are increasingly moving to hybrid working practices that can include teams spread across different countries and timezones, it is also becoming more of an expectation and advantage to be able to connect through a central language, such as English.

    Furthermore, having English language skills can provide employees with better networking opportunities, in particular through conferences, trade shows and social media platforms such as LinkedIn.

    Cultural awareness

    Learning a language opens you up to understanding more about other countries and cultures and being able to sensitively apply this in your interactions with others. This is critical in today’s diverse workplaces and is also a central part of the DE&I agenda of many companies.

    Personal growth

    Learning a new language can be a very enriching experience that enhances personal growth and skills development. Language learning doesn't just impact communication skills; it's also been noted that learning a language helps the brain process and remember information more efficiently[1], as well as developing new cognitive and problem-solving skills.

    Learning a new language requires discipline, dedication, and patience, which are qualities that can be applied to other areas of work and life.

    To summarise, language skills are highly valuable in the workplace and can open up new career opportunities for employees, as well as adding tangible benefits to businesses. Investing in language skills can increase an employee's value, and this can help them succeed in today's ever-evolving work landscape.

  • Four business people sat at a desk, one is on a laptop and another is pointing at whats in front of them
    • Business and employability
    • Tips for careers using English 

    5 ways to politely say no in business English

    By Pearson Languages

    Knowing how to say no politely and professionally is important in the business world. Whether you're declining a job offer, rejecting a sales pitch, or turning down a project, saying no can be difficult. Especially if English is not your native language and you're new to learning business English.

    However, using the right phrases can make all the difference in maintaining positive relationships and avoiding misunderstandings. This blog post will explore five phrases to say no in business English politely.


  • A business woman in a suit sat at a laptop
    • Business and employability
    • Language teaching

    6 tips for teaching business English to low level learners

    By Pearson Languages

    The CEFR describes A1 and A2 learners as ‘basic users’ of a language. So how can we help these students to develop their communication skills for the international workplace?

    Here are our six top tips:

    1. Focus on high-frequency vocabulary for work

    Learning vocabulary for work context is the top priority for many low-level learners in business English classes. It helps them to communicate their message in a simple, effective way. This makes it important to teach common words and set expressions for everyday work situations.

    These include:

    • lexical sets (words related to the same topic or situation) – for example, days, months, numbers, verbs to describe work routines, verbs in the past.
    • common collocations with verbs and nouns (for example, manage a team, have meetings, place an order, solve a problem).
    • functional language and fixed phrases – greetings (How are you? Nice to meet you.) and offers (How can I help you? Would you like…?).

    2. Help students with vocabulary learning

    Teach vocabulary items in realistic contexts. For example, phone calls, to-do lists, short emails, text messages etc.

    While it might be tempting to give students lots of vocabulary to memorize, this can cause overload, be frustrating and ultimately demotivating for learners. Instead, you should aim to present eight to ten new words in a lesson as a general rule. This is an achievable number for working memory and helps to build learners’ confidence. The number of words can be a little higher if items are easy to show in images or there is repetition; for instance, the numbers 20 to 100.

    Have students make simple decisions about new words, as this helps with recall later. Start with simple tasks, such as matching words and pictures or verb and noun collocations they’ve seen in a short text (for example, managing a team, call customers, writing emails, etc.). Next, ask students to complete sentences using the target words and write their own sentences using these words.

    Getting students to personalize new vocabulary makes it more memorable, for instance writing sentences describing their work routines. Repetition also aids long-term memory, so make sure vocabulary is recycled in the materials in later lessons.

    Finally, make a list of vocabulary games to use for revision exercises, warmers and to finish classes.

    3. Maximize student speaking time

    Learners need to develop their speaking skills for work. The classroom is a safe, low-stakes environment for them to gain fluency and confidence.

    Use the audio and video scripts of short dialogues or an extract from a longer script. Students read the dialogue aloud in pairs or groups. Give feedback by drilling the stress and rhythm of any words or phrases which were difficult with the whole class. Back-chaining phrases – starting with the last sound and building up going backwards – is an excellent way to drill. Get students to swap roles and repeat the task.

    You can also use another technique called disappearing dialogue. Put a short dialogue on the board for students to practice in pairs. Then delete parts of the dialogue and ask them to repeat the task, swapping roles each time. Gradually delete more parts to increase the challenge. Students can reconstruct the dialogue as a final task.

    Moreover, surveys, questionnaires, true/false games, and information-gap exercises are ways to practice speaking skills, target structures, and vocabulary.

    4. Provide support for speaking tasks

    Use a model dialogue from the coursebook or one you wrote yourself. Ask students to build their own short dialogues by changing some details (such as names, dates, prices, and quantities). Or use one half of the dialogue and ask students to write the other part.

    Then, have them perform their dialogues together with their script. Then, ask them to try to memorize it without the script. Finally, they should perform the dialogue for another pair or even for the whole class.

    Give students a reason to listen to their partners when they are speaking. For example, a speaking task like placing an order on the phone, gives them a reason. The listening student can note the essential information and check their answers afterwards.

    Repeating tasks with slight variations increases the challenge, improves fluency, helps students remember useful phrases, and builds self-confidence.

    5. Practice work skills your students need

    Students are much more engaged and motivated when the class content is relevant to their everyday situations. Work skills they need to practice include telephoning, socializing and giving presentations.

    Writing skills are also important. This includes formal and informal text messages, simple forms, less formal emails to colleagues (e.g. to update on work) and more formal emails to customers (e.g. replying to a simple inquiry).

    At the start of the class, make it clear what students will be doing in the lesson. You can refer to the lesson outcome on the coursebook page or write the lesson outcome in your own words on the whiteboard. For instance, “Today you will learn to place a simple order on the phone”.

    At the end of the class, ask students to respond to the self-assessment statement: “I can place a simple order on the phone.”

    This is a reminder of the purpose of the lesson. It also helps the students and teachers to reflect on the progress they are making.

    The grammar syllabus should also relate to learners' communicative needs (for example, describing your company, instructions, and talking about arrangements).

    6. Teach functional language phrases

    Draw students’ attention to useful phrases and functional language in speaking and writing. For instance, when greeting visitors (“Nice to meet you.” “See you later.”). They can memorize these utterances and put them to immediate use outside the classroom.

    Use role plays to practice work skills and functional language. Give learners ample time to prepare and write down what they want to say. In a phone call role play, put students back to back to increase the challenge and add an element of authenticity; even better if they can call each other on their mobile phones from separate rooms.

    Similarly, with presentations (for example, introducing yourself and your company), give students time to prepare and rehearse. They can ask colleagues to video them on their mobile phones for later correction work and feedback. Or they could rehearse and film themselves at home and show the final video in the next class.

    These are just a few tips and techniques for teaching English for work to low-level learners. It’s especially important for these students to start simple, recycle language often and build their confidence in their language-learning abilities. 

  • hands holding a tablet interacting with it
    • Business and employability

    6 tools for busy HR professionals

    By Pearson Languages

    More and more organizations have shifted to hiring remote employees, giving candidates the opportunity to apply for jobs from anywhere in the country and across the world. In turn, this wider net has enabled HR professionals to bring in giant pools of qualified candidates – and of course, more great hires.

    But with more job applications coming in, HR professionals know they need to work faster and more efficiently. And the right HR tools can help teams save time and standardize hiring across the board – especially when assessing candidates’ English skills or personality traits from afar.

    Need help choosing the best HR software? We’ve got you covered. Here are 6 tools for busy HR professionals – including a number of HR tests for measuring sought-after soft skills:

    1. Versant

    How it helps you: Test candidates’ English language abilities with AI

    Need a fair way to test candidates’ English skills? Versant is an HR test that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to score language assessments instantly. Made by Pearson, the world’s leading education company, the tool tests candidates’ speaking, listening, reading and writing skills to help HR professionals evaluate how easily someone can handle different workplace tasks – like speaking with customers over the phone or writing clear emails to co-workers.

    Versant also provides an Intelligibility Index score, which objectively measures how well someone pronounces words or expresses their thoughts – both things that are important for effective workplace communication, but easily overlooked.

    The test is available 24/7, with no appointment required, in more than 100 countries around the world.

    Learn more about how Versant works

    2. Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal

    How it helps you: Measure important critical thinking skills

    The Watson-Glaser test is a popular critical thinking assessment. In fact, it’s been around for more than a century, helping organizations and institutions measure the decision-making and rational thinking skills of employees, job applicants, and students alike.

    The Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal tool makes it easy to administer the test on a larger scale. The assessment is timed (it takes 30 minutes) and includes a large bank of questions to help make sure no one ends up writing the same test. The scores are also given as a percentile, based around the following three criteria: whether someone can recognize assumptions, evaluate arguments and draw conclusions.

    Overall, it’s a great tool to use with current employees wanting to move up in the organization. But best of all? It can help HR professionals screen out candidates whose critical thinking skills aren’t up to par – and save time interviewing people who might be qualified on paper, but not necessarily in practice.

    3. Golden Personality Profiler

    How it helps you: Assess a candidate’s personality type and how it will affect their behavior at work.

    Golden Personality Profiler is one of the most in-depth personality assessments on the market. It allows HR professionals to understand what makes an individual unique. In turn, this leads to greater self-acceptance among employees and the ability to value differences in others—key factors impacting team performance.

    So, how does it work? Powered by Jung’s Theory of Type as well as the Five-Factor Model of personality, Golden identifies the most detailed aspects of an individual’s personality. The program presents findings in a clear and concise report to make it easy to understand.

    Of course, this is all good information to have in mind. But how can personality tests be helpful for HR? Not only does this test help predict how well candidates will perform at work, but it also helps to quickly identify a team’s strengths and resources and its potential weaknesses and blind spots. Furthermore, this tool can help HR professionals hire people who will match, or help shape, the company culture.

    4. Acsendo

    How it helps you: Run assessments and improve employee performance

    For many workplaces, it can be difficult to keep morale up. Many people have reported feeling overwhelmed, isolated and unproductive working from home. Acsendo, on the other hand, can help HR professionals push employee engagement and measure how everyone’s performing.

    Within the tool, HR teams can run company assessments to measure employee satisfaction and how they view their work environment, among other things.

    It also enables HR to see if workers’ objectives align with company-wide goals, for example, and helps teams create development plans for employees. Even more, Acscendo advertises that their platform only takes a few days for teams to implement.

    5. Odoo

    How it helps you: Manage employees and recruit from one place

    Odoo is a pretty popular HR platform; they say they have more than 5 million users worldwide. The tool lets users keep track of things like employee leaves, hours worked, expenses and evaluations all in one place – as well as recruit and manage new job applications, for example.

    We also like that they’re open source and that more than 20,000 developers contribute to it globally.

    6. Raven’s

    How it helps you: Assess the skills needed for leadership positions and reduce bias

    Raven’s is another HR test to assess an employee’s soft skills. But it takes into special account the unique skills needed for leadership or management positions. These skills include abstract reasoning, complex problem-solving, and observation skills, among others.

    HR professionals get a report with the results. It shows how the candidate compares to others in the same role. The test isn’t influenced by language differences, and overall, it gives HR professionals a better understanding of who’s actually best for the job.

  • a woman stood in front of a noteboard, gesturing to it. The noteboard has different papers and graphs stuck to it.
    • Language teaching
    • Business and employability

    The importance of professional development for teachers

    By Pearson Languages

    There’s the saying, “There are two types of teachers with 20 years of teaching experience: the first are those with 20 years of experience and the second are those with one year’s experience repeated 20 times.”

    Some believe most teachers want to be the first kind of teacher – constantly evolving throughout their careers – rather than repeating the same classes. Additionally, taking professional development courses can help us reach these new heights.

    Doctors, engineers, lawyers and other professionals regularly have to seek training opportunities. This enables them to keep up to date with the latest technologies, innovations and changes in the wider world. It could be argued that teachers are no different.

    Benefits of professional development training

    There are several benefits to continued professional training for teachers. For instance, there’s always something new to learn as developments are happening regularly in the world of ELT. Whether it’s innovations in ed-tech, new research into how we learn languages or a new pedagogy, certain courses can help bring you up to speed with these!

    Undertaking further training will help you to deepen your knowledge and widen your expertise. So rather than simply repeating the same method of teaching a grammar point over again, you’ll learn new approaches. In turn, you’ll be better equipped to find the tools that work to help your students reach their learning goals.

    Another great thing about professional development is that it can lead to career progression and promotion. There are a number of courses that you can take to develop not only skills for teaching, but other roles in the ELT industry.
    For example, you can train to become a director of studies, specialize in business or academic English, or enter ELT publishing or management. There are many options to explore through further education!

    New trends in English language teaching

    To be the best teachers we can be, it's important to be aware of new trends in the field of ELT. Some of the latest ones include:

    Hybrid learning

    Gaining popularity in recent years, hybrid learning is an approach to teaching. Specifically, it involves some students attending class in person, while others join the class virtually from home. This means that teachers must be prepared to simultaneously teach both students in person and online.

    Flipped classroom

    A flipped classroom means students are introduced to content at home. Often teachers introduce this via videos and then practice working through the new knowledge in class. This is the opposite of the more traditional method where they are given new content at school, and complete assignments independently at home.

    Bite-sized learning

    One method of teaching that has become more common is bite-sized learning. For example, breaking down information into smaller chunks instead of having learners listen to long, uninterrupted sessions, and this helps students absorb information and keeps them engaged.

    If you’re not already familiar with these, there are lots of professional development courses that teach you how to use them in your classroom.

    Formal qualifications in ELT

    So what courses can you take? Here are some of the most common courses you can take for English language teaching.

    • CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) - Cambridge’s Level 5 CELTA qualification is an internationally recognized ELT course. While this certificate focuses on teaching adults, language academies accept it for both adults and young learners.
    • Trinity CertTESOL (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) - Like the CELTA, the Trinity CertTESOL Level 5 course is designed for people with little or no English teaching experience.
    • Trinity CertPT (Certificate for Practising Teachers) - Trinity’s Level 6 CertPT is designed for teachers who have already been teaching for a minimum of six months. It aims to support teachers' further development and help them improve their teaching practice.
    • DELTA (Diploma in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) - Cambridge’s DELTA provides professional development for teachers with at least one year’s experience. This level 7 qualification is also designed for those who want to progress into more senior roles such as head of English and teacher training.
    • Trinity DipTESOL (Diploma in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) - Trinity’s DipTESOL is designed for teachers who have reached a stage in their career where they’d like to progress to a more senior level. Like the DELTA, it’s an internationally respected level 7 qualification for experienced TEFL teachers.
    • Master’s degree - Master’s studies in English Language Teaching, TESOL, or applied linguistics, are great options to reach a more senior level in your career. Most people take them to become a director of studies or reach a management position.
    • Specialized courses - If there’s an area of teaching that you’d like to specialize in, plenty of short courses cover a range of topics. These include teaching online, teaching with technology, teaching business English and teaching very young children. Check out LinkedIn Learning, Coursera or Udemy to see what they offer.

    If you’re unable to take a formal course, sharing ideas with colleagues is a great way to create professional development opportunities. You could exchange lesson plans and ask for feedback or input. There are plenty of podcasts, webinars and social media groups for teachers where you can find great tips and ideas from fellow teachers worldwide.

    Whichever route you decide, remember that learning is a lifelong journey – not only for your students but for yourself too! There are always new things to discover that will help you develop as a teacher.

  • People sat in chairs doing various things like working on a laptop; sat in one of those seats is a cartoon robot
    • Business and employability
    • Technology and the future

    English for employability: What will jobs be like in the future

    By Pearson Languages

    What do driverless car engineers, telemedicine physicians and podcast producers have in common? About 10 years ago none of these positions existed. They are representative of a new technology-driven marketplace, which is evolving faster than employers, governments and education institutions can keep up.

    As new jobs appear, others fall by the wayside. Today, it’s estimated that up to 50% of occupations could be automated with currently available technology. Routine jobs like data entry specialists, proofreaders, and even market research analysts are especially at risk of becoming redundant within the next 5 to 10 years. Globally, that means between 400 and 800 million workers could be displaced by automation technology by 2030, according to McKinsey.

    Moreover, 65% of today’s young people will need to work in areas that do not exist in the current market. The question is, what can we do to prepare learners for a future when we have no idea what jobs they’ll be doing? Mike Mayor and Tim Goodier discuss this uncertain future and explain why English for employability is such a hot topic right now.

    A rising level of English and employer expectations

    Mike Mayor, Director of the Global Scale of English at Pearson, explains that while he believes employability has always been a factor in English language education, it has become more important and more of a focus for students looking to enter the workforce.

    “Expectations of employers have risen as proficiency in English language, in general, has risen around the world,” he says. “They’re now looking for more precise skills.”

    Tim Goodier, Head of Academic Development at Eurocentres, agrees. He explains that English language education is primarily about improving communication and soft skills – which is key for the jobs of 2030 and beyond.

    “There’s a convergence of skills training for the workplace and language skills training,” Tim says. “The Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) has recognized and, in many ways, given a roadmap for looking into how to develop soft skills and skills for employability by fleshing out its existing scheme – especially to look at things like mediation skills.”

    How the Global Scale of English and CEFR have surfaced employability skills

    The Global Scale of English (GSE) is recognizing this increasing prominence of English for employability. Mike explains that it’s doing this “by taking the common European framework and extending it out into language descriptors which are specific for the workplace.”

    In developing a set of learning objectives for professional learners, Mike and his team have given teachers more can-do statements. “They are able to create curricula and lessons around specific business skills,” he says.

    Tim comments that one of the most interesting things about the GSE is that it links can-do statements to key professions, which he explains “is another extension of what these can-do statements can be used for – and viewing competencies as unlocking opportunity.”

    Showing how these skills and competencies relate to the real world of work can be a strong motivating factor for learners.

    He says that teachers need to visualize what success will look like in communication “and then from there develop activities in the classroom that are authentic.” At the same time, he says that activities should be personalized by “using the learners’ own interests and adapting the course as much as possible to their future goals.”

    Preparing students for the future workplace

    Speaking on the role of publishing in English for employability, Mike says:

    “I would say as course book creators we actually incorporate a lot of these skills into our materials, but… I think we could do to push it a little further.”

    In Mike’s view, educators need to do more than teach the skills, they need to raise awareness of their context. In other words why these skills are important and how they will help them in authentic situations both in and out of the work environment.

    Beyond teaching the language itself, he says publishers should be helping teachers ask:

    • Are the students participating fairly in group discussions?
    • Are the students actively listening?
    • Are they interrupting politely?

    These skills “don’t come naturally, and so just to begin raising awareness would be an added value,” he says.

    Future skills: careers in 2030

    In the same way we didn’t know that driverless cars would become a reality 10 years ago, we cannot say with absolute certainty which professions will arise and which will disappear. However, using tools like the GSE teacher toolkit, we can help our students develop the language and soft skills they need to navigate an ever-shifting job market. The future is an exciting place, let’s help our learners prepare themselves!

    Watch the full interview with Mike and Tim below: 

  • Woman with a headset at a computer
    • Business and employability
    • English language testing

    Online English language testing for employment: Is it secure?

    By Pearson Languages

    Managers and HR professionals have a global workforce at their fingertips – and now, nearly 50% of organizations plan to let employees work from home. This makes adopting a secure English language test for employment more important than ever.

    An online English test enables organizations to assess candidates’ language proficiency from anywhere in the world, screen more applicants, and standardize the hiring process. They also help HR professionals and managers to save time – ensuring only people with the right language skills advance to the interview stage.

    But how can employers be certain these tests are safe? And how easy is it for people to cheat? In this article, we’ll explore a few of the top security concerns we hear, and share what features make online language tests secure.

    What is an online English test?

    An online English test measures how well a job applicant can communicate in English, focusing on speaking, listening, reading and writing skills. They also assess a candidate’s specific English for business skills – for example, how clearly someone can communicate on the phone with clients, or understand what is being said during a conference call.

    Online tests can be taken in a controlled environment – in a testing center with in-person proctors – but also from a job applicant’s personal computer or mobile phone at home. When tests are taken at home, they can be made more secure using virtual proctors or powerful AI monitoring technology.

    Cheating, grading and data security

    When many people think of taking a language test, they imagine the traditional way: students in a large testing center scribbling away with pen and paper. No mobile phones are allowed, and if test-takers are caught cheating, they’ll be flagged by a proctor walking around the room.

    So when managers or HR professionals consider the option of an online English test – taken digitally and often without human supervision – it’s no surprise that many have questions about security. Let’s take a look at some common concerns:

    Is cheating a problem?

    A large number of test takers admit to cheating on their tests. According to research by the International Center for Academic Integrity, 68% of undergraduate students say they’ve cheated on a writing assignment or test, while 43% of graduate students say they have.

    But how easy is it to cheat during a Versant test?

    The truth is, not very. With Versant, exam cheating is actually quite difficult, and test takers would have to outsmart a range of AI monitoring technologies.

    If a verified photo is uploaded to the platform, HirePro’s face recognition technology can compare the live test taker with it. This ensures test takers are who they say they are, and haven’t asked someone else to sit the exam for them. It is the institution’s responsibility to verify the original photo.

    And since Versant tests are monitored using specialized AI algorithms – without a human present – even the slightest suspicious behaviors are flagged for review. For example, Versant notices if a different face appears in the video, or if the camera goes dark. With video monitoring, our platform also flags if the test taker moves from the camera, or looks away multiple times. And we’ll see if someone changes tabs on their computer.

    Finally, the entire test is recorded. When suspicious behavior arises, HR professionals will decide whether to accept or reject the results – or have the candidate retake the test.

    Are scores accurate?

    We’ve all had frustrating experiences with AI. Chatbots don’t always understand what we’re trying to say, and speech recognition technology sometimes isn’t up to par. This leaves many wondering if they should trust AI to grade high-stakes tests – especially when the results could be the difference between someone getting the job, or not.

    Versant uses patented AI technology to grade tests that are trained and optimized for evaluating English language proficiency. It evaluates speaking, listening, reading, writing, and even intelligibility.

    Our AI is trained using thousands of native and non-native speakers. With these models, we’re able to not only evaluate how someone should be assessed but also understand when they’ve mispronounced words or have made another mistake. Using all this information, a candidate’s final score is evaluated based on more than 2000 data points.

    Do online tests follow GDPR standards?

    HR professionals and managers deal with sensitive personal information every day. This includes each job applicant’s name, full address, date of birth, and sometimes even their social security number. The HR tools they implement therefore must also keep this data secure.

    Most importantly, it must follow GDPR standards. The data must be gathered with consent and protected from exploitation. With Versant, test-taker data is securely stored and follows all GDPR guidelines.

    All our data is encrypted at rest and in transmission. Versant assessment data is stored in the US and HirePro, our remote monitoring partner, stores the proctoring data in either Singapore or Europe, depending on customer needs. Both systems are GDPR compliant.

    Versant: a secure English language test

    The Versant automated language test is powered by patented AI technology to ensure the most accurate results for test takers and employers alike. Even better, our remote testing lets HR professionals securely and efficiently assess candidates worldwide, 24/7 – and recruit top global talent to help more companies scale.

  • An image of Max Kortakul, a man with dark hair, glasses and black shirt holding a microphone
    • Business and employability
    • Success stories

    How English helped me to make my company a huge success

    By Pearson Languages

    Max Kortrakul is CEO and co-founder of StockRadars, a premier mobile application (app) for stock investors in Thailand. The company was one of Southeast Asia's most well-funded technology start-ups and won an Asia Pacific ICT Alliance Award in 2014.

    Technology start-up companies are flourishing in Southeast Asia, where record deals were made in 2015. According to a report released by Temasek and Google Singapore, within ten years, the internet economy in the region could reach US$200 billion annually. Here, Max recounts how he recruited investors for his app and went on to build his start-up company from scratch – and how his knowledge of the English language has helped him create a company worth an estimated US$15 million. 

    Why did you decide to develop an app for stock investors?

    “People tend to shake their heads at the mention of the stock market; it involves big numbers, lots of data and is high risk. I thought about investing but there weren’t any helpful tools to do so. My idea was simple: make investment easier for myself and for others in Thailand and that led to my idea for the StockRadars app.”

    How did you know your idea was a good one?

    “It was the one that kept me awake at 3am, so I put all my energy into finishing the app. Trusting your own intellect is crucial because sometimes you have to actualise your idea before you can even tell if it’s a good or bad one. If it works, then good for you. You never know, you could be standing in line to be added to the The Unicorn List – private companies valued at more than $1 billion. If your idea bombs, you can always move on and try another one.”

    When you pitched your idea to investors, how did you approach it?

    “I made sure that potential investors could see the value of my idea, not by presenting the projected numbers but by showing how much dedication, time and energy I had put into the project. When you’re able to prove that you have invested in yourself, the investors will invest in you too. I also pitched hard with facts about the importance of the product – I wanted investors to understand that if the app can balance the risk of stock investment, then we can make it less complicated for our users.”

    What was your greatest fear when you were in the meeting?

    “I tried not to think of myself as a small, powerless business from a small country with very few successful technology start-up companies. Thoughts like that could have hindered me when I was pitching – but I try not to be the kind of person who overthinks things. Of course, you have to pitch your idea in English, which can be daunting. People often believe that you have to use big words and jargon to give the impression that you’re clever but that’s not necessarily true. Investors are people, too, and people want to listen to something simple, with clear facts. Luckily, I had learnt to speak English while I was working for an IT company in Vietnam.”

    Has working in a multicultural workplace shaped the way you think?

    “I learnt to embrace diversity. Many people speak English but will speak their version of it – Thai English, Singlish (Singaporean English), Vietnamese English, and so on. The more you understand the English language, the better communication you will have. We may not be a fully multicultural workplace at the moment but we lean in that direction. We took on interns from Nepal and England, which was great as we gained new perspectives from other cultures with different beliefs and mindsets than our own. It’s very beneficial when we’re brainstorming – and that’s how we came up with a variety of ideas to adapt our platform.”

    Do you think learning English can help other technology start-up companies in Southeast Asia achieve more?

    “English is the language that connects you to the world and if you can speak it, it means more opportunities and you’ll meet more people. There are many tech start-ups in Southeast Asia and now is the time when start-up ideas are likely to become a reality – and knowing the English language will help.”

  • Two ladies in a pottery studio, one with a clipboard, both looking at a laptop together
    • Business and employability
    • Tips for careers using English

    11 ways you can avoid English jargon at work

    By Pearson Languages

    From “blue-sky thinking” to “lots of moving parts”, there are many phrases used in the office that sometimes seem to make little sense in a work environment. These phrases are known as ‘work jargon’ – or you might hear it referred to as ‘corporate jargon’, ‘business jargon’ or ‘management speak’. It’s a type of language generally used by a profession or group in the workplace, and has been created and evolved over time. And whether people use this work jargon to sound impressive or to disguise the fact that they are unsure about the subject they are talking about, it’s much simpler and clearer to use plain English. This will mean that more people understand what they are saying – both native and non-native speakers of the English language!

    The preference for plain English stems from the desire for communication to be clear and concise. This not only helps native English speakers to understand things better, but it also means that those learning English pick up a clearer vocabulary. This is particularly important in business, where it’s important that all colleagues feel included as part of the team and can understand what is being said. This, in turn, helps every colleague feel equipped with the information they need to do their jobs better, in the language they choose to use.

    Here, we explore some of the most common examples of English jargon at work that you might hear and suggest alternatives you can use…

    Blue-sky thinking

    This refers to ideas that are not limited by current thinking or beliefs. It’s used to encourage people to be more creative with their thinking. The phrase could be confusing as co-workers may wonder why you’re discussing the sky in a business environment.

    Instead of: “This is a new client, so we want to see some blue-sky thinking.”

    Try saying: “This is a new client, so don’t limit your creativity.”

    Helicopter view

    This phrase is often used to mean a broad overview of the business. It comes from the idea of being a passenger in a helicopter and being able to see a bigger view of a city or landscape than if you were simply viewing it from the ground. Non-native English speakers might take the phrase literally, and be puzzled as to why someone in the office is talking about taking a helicopter ride.

    Instead of: “Here’s a helicopter view of the business.”

    Try saying: “This is a broad view of the business.”

    Get all your ducks in a row

    This is nothing to do with actual ducks; it simply means to be organized. While we don’t exactly know the origin of this phrase, it probably stems from actual ducklings that walk in a neat row behind their parents.

    Instead of: “This is a busy time for the company, so make sure you get all your ducks in a row.”

    Try saying: “This is a busy time for the company, so make sure you’re as organized as possible.”

    Thinking outside the box

    Often used to encourage people to use novel or creative thinking. The phrase is commonly used when solving problems or thinking of a new concept. The idea is that, if you’re inside a box, you can only see those walls and that might block you from coming up with the best solution.

    Instead of: “The client is looking for something extra special, so try thinking outside the box.”

    Try saying: “The client is looking for something extra special, so try thinking of something a bit different to the usual work we do for them.”

    IGUs (Income Generating Units)

    A college principal alerted us to this one – it refers to his students. This is a classic example of jargon when many more words are used than necessary.

    Instead of: “This year, we have 300 new IGUs.”

    Try saying: “This year, we have 300 new students.”

    Run it up the flagpole

    Often followed by “…and see if it flies” or “…and see if anyone salutes it”, this phrase is a way of asking someone to suggest an idea and see what the reaction is.

    Instead of: “I love your idea, run it up the flagpole and see if it flies.”

    Try saying: “I love your idea, see what the others think about it.”

    Swim lane

    A visual element – a bit like a flow chart –  that distinguishes a specific responsibility in a business organization. The name for a swim lane diagram comes from the fact that the information is broken up into different sections – or “lanes” – a bit like in our picture above.

    Instead of: “Refer to the swim lanes to find out what your responsibilities are.”

    Try saying: “Refer to the diagram/chart to find out what your responsibilities are.”

    Bleeding edge

    A way to describe something that is innovative or cutting edge. It tends to imply an even greater advancement of technology that is almost so clever that it is unbelievable in its current state.

    Instead of: “The new technology we have purchased is bleeding edge.”

    Try saying: “The new technology we have purchased is innovative.”

    Tiger team

    A tiger team is a group of experts brought together for a single project or event. They’re often assembled to assure management that everything is under control, and the term suggests strength.

    Instead of: “The tiger team will solve the problem.” 

    Try saying: “The experts will solve the problem.” 

    Lots of moving parts

    When a project is complicated, this phrase is sometimes used to indicate lots is going on.

    Instead of: “This project will run for several months and there are lots of moving parts to it.”

    Try saying: “This project will run for several months and it will be complicated.”

    A paradigm shift

    Technically, this is a valid way to describe changing how you do something and the model you use. The word “paradigm” (pronounced “para-dime”) is an accepted way or pattern of doing something. So the “shift” part means that a possible new way has been discovered. Non-native speakers, however, might not be familiar with the meaning and might be confused about what it actually means.

    Instead of: “To solve this problem, we need a paradigm shift.”

    Try saying: To solve this problem; we need to think differently.”