The Crazy Things Your Learn While Teaching

When people write about teaching language, they mostly write about the crazy things students do, and the ways around common problems. But what is even more crazy and amusing are the unexpected things you learn while teaching.

At Taleninstituut, we teach professional adults from a wide range of industries. In any given week as a trainer, you are talking to travel agents, real estate agents, lawyers, accountants, sales people, analysts, managers, receptionists and more.

While our clients are learning better English or French, we are learning about how their business works, discovering some office politics and also learning more about how their mother tongue works. Of course, I can’t give you the confidential details of some of what we learn, but there are some fun things too.

I teach English, which is renowned for its huge vocabulary. And yet, the word we have for a memory trick short cut is Mnemonic. What a boring word. The Dutch have a much better one: Ezelsbrugje. A donkey bridge. No-one seems to know where it comes from or what it means exactly, but all Dutch people know and use it. Now, in English, I refer to Donkey Bridges all the time.

You also get to learn a lot about the differences in language and culture. In the Randstad, the Dutch are very direct and all business like at work. Further South, and they are going to first talk about the weather and your family before getting down to business.

I now also know all about the Nine Box Grid for performance management, how to work a piece of software designed to keep track of emergency equipment, international cargo booking, asset and tax management for high income individuals and building site management to name just a few of the industries my client shave come from. 

There’s no way I could get a job doing those things, but to help these clients use English better in their lives, I had to learn quite a bit too. My hope is that pone day I am going to win big at the Pub Quiz because of my new-found general knowledge levels.

Teaching is always a 2-way process where the trainer learns as much from the client as the other way around. It keeps the energy circling in the room, it keeps the client focused and it keeps things interesting for a trainer introducing the difference between present simple and present perfect for the 1 millionth time… in short, it’s what makes doing this job such fun.

TalenInstituut Free Tip:

Even if you can speak another language in social settings, business uses different language that you Don’t be scared to share details from your work and your life with your trainer: These things help us understand the challenges you face and it’s how we make sure our examples and exercises fit in with your world and how you like to do things. It really helps you learn.

Here at TalenInstituut Nederland (The Dutch Language Institute) we understand the needs that companies face as well as the fears individual learners feel. This is why we offer flexible, fully customised Business language courses to businesses and individuals. Through a process of interviews and meetings we establish the unique needs and competence of our clients and design each and every course around those. To find out more about our Business Language courses, visit our website and ask us for a quote:

© Taleninstituut Nederland
By: David Chislett
Trainer Business English

Foto 18 09 17 10 34 10 - Taleninstituut Nederland

Foto: De Ezelsbrug / The Donkey Bridge in Amsterdam (location: Wittenburgervaart / Oostelijke Eilanden)
Fotograaf: Jeroen Docter