Monday, January 21, 2019

7 Effective Ways to Ace a Job Interview in a Foreign Language by Alice Berg

Hello! Hola! Bonjour! Whatever language you speak, making it through an interview in a foreign language is challenging. In addition to general nervousness, you might worry about your job interview speech.

How do I sound? Am I speaking correctly? What if I don’t understand their question or can't find the right word to answer it? 

You have to stay calm. Interviewers will understand that you're a non-native speaker, so they'll be ready for small misunderstandings. However, if you have an interview in a given language, you'll probably be expected to have a decent level in it. That’s why strong speaking and writing skills are required.

Let’s have a look at how to ace an interview in a foreign language.

Practice Makes Perfect

Don't ever think about going to the interview without a small rehearsal. Guess what the questions will be and how you'd answer them.

While no two interviews are the same, most will ask you to say something about yourself. Here are some extremely common interview questions:

  • What do you know about our company?
  • Why did you leave your last job? 
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?
  • What are your hobbies?
  • What is your biggest achievement/challenge in life? 

It's a good idea to take some time and answer those questions. Ask a friend or relative to be your interviewer if you want to make your answers feel more natural. Tell them briefly about yourself, your career goals, experience, expectations, and plans. This simple exercise will help you find the right words and learn them.

“I would advise candidates to prepare short and concise answers to the questions. Be focused, listen to the question carefully and provide the best answer you can. Don’t be afraid to clarify the question if you're not sure you got everything correct. You can always say “Would you like to hear more?" if you feel they're still waiting for a more detailed answer”- Brenda Sommers, an HR manager at Skillroads.

Keep in Mind That Your Interview is Cross-cultural

The more languages you speak, the more cultures you belong to. Find out more about the culture of the countries where your target language is spoken.

Did you know that language shapes the way people think?

For example, both light and dark blue have the same word to identify this color in English – blue. Russian speakers differentiate those two colors and have separate words for both. Research conducted on the brain activity of both Russian and English speakers revealed that English people noticed differences in shades of blue less while Russian speakers were quicker to tell them apart.

The difference in the way people think, communicate, interact with each other is much bigger. Make sure you know basic things about the mentality of your interviewers.

Don’t Be Afraid of Having an Accent

Even though you are not supposed to sound 100% natural, too strong an accent might be a problem. Work on your pronunciation as it's important for general understanding. If you speak well, both you and your listeners understand each other much better

Now let’s use English as an example. English speakers often reduce sounds (“em” would be a reduced form for “them”). Listen to the native speakers, repeat after them; watch movies and cartoons - try to imitate the accents you hear; write down basic pronunciation rules and practice. Keep practicing to improve your accent and pronunciation.

Be Ready to Exchange Common Pleasantries

Many candidates show up at interviews ready to answer any question. However, don't be silent when it comes to general things like expressing gratitude or demonstrating good manners. The first impression is very important; 33% of interviewers know whether they would hire someone in the first 90 seconds!

Make sure you know how to say “bless you” if somebody sneezes or “likewise” when the interviewers wish you a nice day. Prepare several different “difficult phrases” and idioms. In such a way, you’ll sound more impressive. However, make sure you have a clear understanding of the context and meaning of these phrases because if you don't, you'll just look silly. Saying a simple "Thanks for having/inviting me,” “Hope to hear back from you soon,” or “Have a good day” will always improve your chances.

Immerse Yourself in the Language before the Interview

Are you having an interview in Spanish?

Turn on Spanish TV and music, visit a Spanish restaurant in your city, or watch a movie. Talk to yourself aloud and even think in the target language.

If there are speaking clubs in your city, make sure you attend the next time they meet. People who practice the same language might help you out by asking some of the questions that we already mentioned earlier. The relaxed atmosphere in the club will help you calm down and speak with no pressure. Listen to the speeches even on your way to the interview. Choose only those topics that are interesting for you or related to the job.

There’s No Shame in Being Honest

Didn’t understand the question?

Don’t be afraid to say "Sorry, but I didn't get it. Can you repeat that, please?”. Nobody will judge you, laugh or think you’re not fluent. Even people speaking in their native languages have to occasionally ask for things to be repeated. Be yourself and stay positive and relaxed.

Robert Hellmann, the President of Hellmann Career Consulting, says telling a story is a good way to interest the interviewer: “Yes, you need to get other things right in an interview as well: ask the right questions, prep for handling issues with your candidacy, follow-up effectively and so forth. But telling a good story is the most powerful way to stand out from the competition since our brains are wired to remember the imagery, the drama, and the emotion that’s conveyed in a good story”.

Keep Calm!

Don’t let stress eat you up. The last and probably most important way to nail the interview is by being yourself. Languages are a tool to communicates your skills, abilities, and thoughts. The really important thing is not the way you speak, but the way you do your job and grow within the company.

Demonstrate to the recruiter your willingness to learn, your perseverance, and your confidence. Despite the cultural and linguistic differences, they're still recruiters looking for somebody to hire. You just have to make sure that it's you!

Finally, stop worrying about how to prepare for an interview, sit down and do it. Make a job interview checklist and work your way through every task. Good luck!

Alice Berg is a career advisor who helps people find their own way in life and prepare for their future careers. She likes backpacking and spends her free time learning Slavic languages. You can find her on Twitter and Medium

Monday, January 14, 2019

Learning a Lingua Franca or a Niche Language by Sienna Walker

Which Should I Choose?

Learning a language is no small undertaking. Many people find that languages are one of the most difficult things to learn. The process requires a lot of discipline and retraining your brain. If you're going to learn a new language, you want to make sure that your hard work is going to pay off.

Most people who decide to learn a new language either want to learn a lingua franca (a common language that people speak to communicate with one another) or a niche language (a language native to very few countries and not often spoken outside of those countries). Learning either of them opens up new opportunities and deciding which route is the best for you largely depends on how you intend to apply this new language in your life.

Consider Your Passion

Some people learn a language simply because it's on their bucket list. If this sounds like you, it mightn't matter which type of language you choose. As long as you're motivated and have an interest in the language or choose a language that's commonly described as relatively easy to learn, you're setting yourself up for a smooth journey.

If you intend to use a new language to set up a new life in a new country or to properly appreciate the art and culture of a place, learning a niche language might be more helpful. Scholars of Japanese culture might as well master the Japanese language – especially if they intend to go to Japan for an extended period of time.

For a Career

Learning a new language to increase your career prospects is a fantastic idea. If you've ever had a look through online job boards, you've probably seen jobs asking for employees with language skills. When learning a new language for a career, both the lingua franca route and the niche language route are good ideas. It all depends on what you intend to do with your career.

International companies have a strong preference for people who are fluent in a lingua franca because these people can help bridge gaps and forge connections to strengthen relationships with overseas partnerships. People who speak a lingua franca can do more in more parts of the world.

On the other hand, people who speak a niche language are highly valuable when it comes to specific countries and are usually harder to find. If a company wants to open up a manufacturing plant in Hungary, they might need someone who is highly fluent in Hungarian, a language commonly considered to be “difficult”, to get the job done.

For Travelling

Travellers need to know how to communicate with natives in the country they're visiting. It's helpful when purchasing something in a store, ordering a meal at a restaurant, or securing accommodation for the night. It's necessary in case of an emergency. If you need to speak with local authorities or get help, you're going to have a difficult time if you can't find a common language to speak.

In most parts of the world, it's not hard to find someone who speaks English. After all, it's the most common lingua franca. Despite that, you don't want to take for granted that you'll be able to find someone who speaks English when you're in an urgent situation. It helps to keep a translator app on your phone for emergencies – or learn some useful phrases in that particular language.

Research the lingua franca languages used in areas of the world you intend to travel to. If there aren't a lot of English speakers, learn the lingua franca used in a given region. In areas like the middle east, Persian and Hindustani are widely spoken as second languages and native languages. Knowing these languages will make your life easier.

Why Not Learn Both? 

You don’t necessarily need to learn one or the other. There are instances in which knowing both a niche language and a lingua franca will help you cover all your bases. If you travel frequently or work overseas, it’s best to know as much as possible. There are numerous benefits to learning a second, third, or even fourth language. Communication is one of the most invaluable tools that human beings have. Anything you can do to maximize your ability to communicate is a worthwhile pursuit.

Sienna Walker is an experienced tutor, avid traveller, and a languages lover from Australia. She's passionate about self-improvement and is currently learning how to manage her travel finances through Brighter Finance. Whenever not working or planning another trip, Sienna is trying hard to pick up some new languages. She's currently focusing on Spanish and Norwegian. Feel free to reach out to her on Twitter.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Top 10 Ways to Improve your Spoken English at Home by Emma Simmonds

Knowing how to speak English correctly is really rewarding and usually, the learning process is also straightforward too. But then again, not everyone has the time and patience to sit in a language class or do an English course, even if they are driven to improve their English skills.

If you fall into this category, you should know that there are numerous ways you can learn English and improve your language skills from the comfort of your home. The best thing is that you can learn either with or without the help of a partner.

Below are ten great ways you can improve your spoken English at home.

1. Get a Partner

An easy way to learn and improve your spoken English at home is to start a conversation with someone who is fluent in the language. You could invite a friend or neighbour who speaks fluently over to your house. Of course, make sure that they understand your goals and have agreed to help. Otherwise, you are wasting time.

Can't find a partner to speak with you in person?

Not a big deal.

Programs and apps like Skype, Facetime, Facebook and even phone calls will make that possible. These technologies will allow you to speak with anyone from anywhere in the world.
Just make sure that you have a good internet connection so the voice would clearer.

2. Watch Television Shows

The more you listen to people speak a specific language, the better you'll get at it and the more your interest in the language will grow so if you want to develop your spoken English at home, start watching television shows recorded in the English language. You should start with cartoons as they're usually aimed at younger viewers and use simple grammar that's easy to grasp.

3. Find Friends with Similar Goals

Learning is simpler when you have a partner with the same interests. Both of you can motivate one another, swap lesson notes and set goals together. Also, during conversations, make sure that you speak only in the English language. You'll soon make a lot of progress.

4. Think and Speak in English

Whether you are at home, work, or a gettogether, always think about the new things you've learned and speak to yourself from time to time. In other words, think aloud in English.
Don't wait for someone to correct your mistakes. Just by practicing like this, you'll gain more confidence and be more comfortable speaking the English language.

5. Listen to Songs and Sing Along

Another effective way to improve your spoken English at home is through songs. You have to listen to them and sing along. While learning the lyrics may take some time, it'll worth the wait.
You can also learn with rap songs. Rappers use fast speed and stronger rhythm that will help you improve your fluency.

6. Write it Down

Take the time to write down the new words, sentences, and phrases you come across. This will help you improve faster. You can also try using them in sentences throughout the week. The idea is to continue using your new vocabulary until you get used to them.

7. Play Word Games

There are many word-related games you can play with other friends who want to learn English that are challenging and entertaining. Examples include games such as Boggle, Mad Grab and Scrabble. You will learn new words as you play and constantly be looking up new words in the dictionary.

8. Practice Tongue Twisters

Tongue twisters are words and phrases that even fluent English speakers sometimes find difficult to say quickly. An example is: "The sun shall soon shine." Try saying this quickly over and over.
Others could be longer though.

While you need to work on your grammar and fluency if you want to improve your spoken English, tongue twisters can improve your fluency and pronunciation. You can practice these regularly.

9. Don't Beat Yourself Up

Learning is a gradual process that also requires a lot of patience. It's good that you're eager to improve but you need also to take things slowly when you're a beginner.

Try not to get frustrated about your mistakes or how terrible you sound as you're still learning.
If you get confused at any point, try to relax and then think about how to make things clearer. You should also reduce your speed maybe that could help.

10. Read, Read, and Read Some More!

Read anything you come across that is written in the English language. Visit websites and read articles, journals, and books written in the English language. You should also consider reading aloud so that you can hear yourself.

It's not difficult to learn and improve one's spoken English. You only need to show commitment and be consistent in whatever learning process you are using to develop your skills. However, these ten different tips should help you improve your spoken English more quickly. You can use all of them simultaneously. Just don't forget to monitor your progress and focus on the one that is most effective.

Emma Simmonds is a passionate writer with an interest in custom writing. She loves to share tips and easy ways people can do things and achieve great results.