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About the Episode
Daphne Elie, the founder of Business Class Language Solutions, explains why using the term trainer is important.
We’ll be looking at how language training differs from classroom setting teaching and why it matters that YOU, as a trainer, insist on marking the difference with your clients.
After this conversation, we hope you’ll think twice before allowing casual references by clients to “English Teacher.”
We’ll look at how words that hark back to learners’ school days (“homework” and “class” ) may be inhibiting their progress and your career ! Is it just semantics? Join us to find out.
hi welcome to the business class esl break room we’re a company of passionate language trainers and coaches we’re here to share ideas to improve our skills and strengthen the training community come in for some inspiration leave with tips to apply to your sessions today [Music]
daphne ellie the founder of business class language solutions explains why using the term trainer is important we’ll be looking at how language training differs from classroom setting teaching and why it matters that you as a trainer insist on marking the difference with your clients after this conversation we hope you’ll think twice before allowing casual references by clients to english teacher and even the words homework and class is it just semantics let’s find out daphne thanks so much for joining me today today we’ve got a topic that for some maybe splitting hairs whether you call yourself language trainer or language teacher cambridge dictionary says trainer is a person who teaches skills to people or animals and prepares them for a job activity or sport while the dictionary says teacher is a person who instructs or trains others especially in a school seemingly similar so what gives what is your take on this and why is it important for us thank you for having me um for me there’s a distinct difference between teacher and trainer in the french market we often hear teachers trainers being referred to as prof dengle for me we are not prof dengler we’re not teachers because we’re working in a totally different environment we’re working with business professionals in business environment when you are a teacher you normally have a syllabus that you follow in a linear fashion so technically you would start with the present simple and you would grade up towards let’s say the present perfect continuous just to give you an example in the business world we don’t have that time at our disposal and neither does the the learner they have a job to do they are right in the middle of the difficulty of not being able to speak english and whether they know that is the present simple or the past continuous what does it really matter what matters is that they can communicate and that the person they’re communicating with gets the message so for me a trainer is somebody who looks at the objectives of the learner at that present time what does that learner need to do and those are the objectives that guide the learning plan for the learner during the time that he has at his disposal so that could be 10 hours or it could be 40 hours a teacher has a much longer span of time it seems to me to get things done and for me that is essential um also we need to think about mindset we’re talking about going into companies talking to business professionals talking to managers talking to key account managers and we need to be we need to impress on them that we are not here to teach them things but to help them to do what they do in their jobs better and for me that is the difference
i could say okay well before you give a presentation you need to know how to use the present perfect so i’ll teach them the present perfect because i think as a teacher i know what that person needs but if you listen to the learner the learner will actually tell you i’ve got this presentation in two weeks and you know i’ve got to do it so you don’t have time to teach the present perfect so you have to involve the learner in the learning process and find out from the learner what he or she has to do and your job as a trainer is to get them there so for me that was one of the reasons why i started business class because i was a teacher for a long long time had 20 30 years of experience and when i started the company in 2003 it was for me the way of saying to the market we’re not please don’t undervalue our competencies and our skills we are native speakers but we also have diplomas and we are pedagogues we know what we’re doing and it was very very important for me to hire a team of trainers that had the right mindset and also to send out message to the market that it’s not because you speak english it’s not because you’re a native speaker that you’re a good trainer and this for me was my crusade when i started my company for me teachers were undervalued and calling them trainers okay maybe splitting hairs but for me it’s to do with the mindset a person who goes into a company feeling that they are on a par with the people they are in the in the room with that they are there to learn from their learners and collaborate in the learning process that is for me what a trainer embodies a teacher for me is somebody who says okay i know where are you you’re at this is what we’re going to do for me that’s a different approach i’m not saying that a teacher in a classroom has the wrong approach don’t get me wrong huh i have enormous respect for teachers but i think we’re not in the same business right and i’d love the market to appreciate that right so when you talk about the market appreciating that that makes me think this is when we refer to how the clients refer to us and how the other members of their company or the hr or whoever is hiring us how they refer to us that is important then it’s not just for us to call ourselves trainers can you speak to that aspect yes um i mean i’ve had experience of going into a company and the receptionist calls my learner and says ah jerome uh and i would immediately politely of course correct her and say no i’m sorry i’m not a prof d’anglais uh je and why was that important because in business other other types of training for example marketing communication i.t training leadership training we don’t talk about a teacher we don’t talk about tap off the marketing or the communication we refer to them as either antavano or farmer or animate and we don’t use those school terms when we talk about other types of training so why is it because it’s english do we use that terminology that we use in school um it’s almost like a default where we all revert back to those students we were back in middle school or that’s right as they say in french exactly and how many times as a trainer have you heard somebody said um [Music] devoir you know so all of this kind of language doesn’t help the learner understand the role of the person in the room with him that person is not there to sanction him to give him a bad mark there’s no there’s no bad marks right and a mistake is not a foot a mistake is an important part of the learning process and if you say oh well you know that was wrong then we go straight back and you put the learner back into that position of being a child of being in in a position of um [Music] subservience and that is definitely not what we want so how how have you countered that and when you’ve come across that what would you say to one of your learners who starts that oh and if you don’t speak french you start acting like oh i didn’t do my homework yes yes it’s it’s not an easy um it’s not a quick process you you know you can’t just say in two minutes so we’ll don’t talk like that you know we don’t use that vocabulary it’s it’s a process where you have to start educating the learner and say okay homework for you what does homework mean and then the person will say oh well it meant you know slogging in the evening and doing your homework five minutes before class or cheating or you know all these negative things and i think people know more more about how the brain works but we know that negative feelings stop people from learning that’s right so i think our first job is to try and create that positive environment where the learner doesn’t feel threatened where the learner isn’t put back into the position of being considered you know new or stupid that okay maybe he wasn’t a good student at school but that doesn’t mean to say that he can’t learn enough english to do his job better so it is a slow process and with i think um with um the fact that a trainer should listen and help the learner to understand that not here to judge him or her we’re here to help that person do his or her job better and because we have the knowledge because we have a certain expertise we can we can be a guide for that person but in no way are we to say okay well you have to learn this and you have to pronounce this word this way because that’s the way we say it in english you know to be honest if a person says he don’t instead if he doesn’t you as a as a guide as a trainer you have to measure whether that is fundamentally important for that person to say he doesn’t instead if he don’t if you think that for the time being he don’t will be okay obviously you keep it in mind that you need to correct it but are you going to say to that person well we can’t learn anything else until you’ve got that right all right what’s a pity for that person you are stultifying the learning process if you say okay well yeah okay he don’t it’s acceptable for today we’ll write it down we’ll make sure that we work on that so that you’ll start to say he doesn’t right okay okay but be gentle be kind to the person yeah we need to be as adults it’s sometimes very difficult for people to get back into the seat of a learner yes you know their ego you know they could be top manager and they could have let’s say an a2 level you have to know how to handle those people you can’t go around saying that’s wrong or that’s not the way we say it that hurts right and that we our job i think as a trainer is to create that trust with the learner and when you’ve got the trust of the learner you can do almost anything you can say almost anything because they they know that they can that that you have that they have your support fantastic it’s a partnership in a sense it’s a partnership yes it’s not top-down right it’s a collaboration and this is what i’ve i always say to my learners when i was a trainer i said okay we’re here together we’re going to work together i’m not going to tell you necessarily what we should do we’re going to work that out together what do you need to do in your job and then we say and i can help you okay well to be able to do that this is what you need to do are you ready to do that how can we do it together it’s not i know what you want you’re a b b1 and so this is the program okay when i recruited uh trainers for business class i was always interested in the way they talked about their learners and if i heard things like i told them to do this i got them to do that i would always worry that that was the top down method that i didn’t want to see okay if you tell somebody to do something it’s a lot different from saying well how about doing it this way what do you do you think that would be a good way for you to learn you know if i’m saying if you say to me uh oh i need a list of irregular verbs you could say okay well i’ll bring you a list next week i did that i have to admit that i did that and i went i scurried off to the cupboard and i made a photocopy and i gave it to the person next week now i wouldn’t ever do that i’d say ah you want a list of irregular verbs fantastic okay let’s start by making your own list a list of verbs that mean something to you not my list not the publishers list i mean who wants to know the verb to seek sort sort right you know it it’s an interesting verb but how many times do you use that true true so you know the i think this is the difference in the attitude of the teacher saying okay well this is the list of irregular verbs learn them for next week you know or saying brilliant it’s true you need to know the irregular verbs but which ones do you need to know only the ones you want to use it’s really customizing it and helping them customize it that’s right invests thank you that’s very enlightening and i’d like to just also touch upon the other aspect we mentioned is not just the learner and and the trainer that we refer to ourselves as trainers but the peripheral people the hr and the receptionist what impact can that have on the organization of your training in other words why is it important that trainers also present themselves and use that language with everybody that they deal with and not just the learner what impact can that have on the setup of the training for example or future trainings i think it’s important to have all the the the people involved especially the stakeholders you know the the hr the responsible uh [Music] if we could get the managers on board too that would be even better because what we need to create and what we try to put forward is that the trainer is central uh in the learning process but it also it takes the rest of the company to convey the same message to the employees so if the hr person undervalues the person who’s giving the language training okay well you know he speaks english and you know he comes in every week and that’s not conveying the the message that english language training is not just for recreation purposes but it’s it’s a tool to increase people’s performance so the hr the receptionist everybody has to understand that english language training is is more than just having a good time and getting two hours off work you know to to speak english right it’s much more than that it’s as important as any other training that a company might spend a lot more money on so you know what’s what’s in a name everybody has a name and that name has an importance to the person i mean for example my name’s daphne but sometimes people call me dorothy dorothy and to me that’s not very respectful oh absolutely so if you consider yourself as a trainer and somebody’s calling you a puff dongle then to me that shows also a lack of respect right so yeah i know it’s a term but it means a lot and also the way that we um comport ourselves the way we talk the way we dress all of that is part of our image and we mustn’t forget that in companies you know we’re dealing with people who have a marketing team who work on their identity who work on their brand image right so they know what it means to have an image and a posture absolutely and a posture you know the posture is very important and and to that subject what i always appreciate about you is when we first met and you explained how you tried to negotiate out of or steer hr people out of the lunchtime time windows or the late evening time windows you know a lot of times the lesson would be relegated to the most um inconvenient time for trainer and the most convenient in quotes time for the learner i always appreciated how you presented that as no that was that yes would you put a manager uh management training at lunch exactly exactly that is and and yes you’re right to bring that up because that’s part and parcel of this um this mindset you know english can be relegated to lunchtime and uh the late night slot you know five to seven or even six to eight when we know as trainers that those are the two times in the day when people are not receptive first of all at lunchtime they’re hungry they’ve already been at work for four hours so they’re tired they need that break and it’s six to eight okay if that’s the only slot why not but we know that you know the the retention the degree of retention is is less i mean we are human beings too right the other thing that i would also put forward is to say that you know we have to respect the god as well of course yeah and people need breaks yeah and you know for a trainer who’s starting at eight in the morning doing eight ten ten twelve and then twelve two to two when does he get a break so you know you as an hr person know that we have to stick to the cod and so as i do too because i’m the manager of this company so i have to really take care of the mental health and the the the physical health of my trainers right and which is another great and valid reason for a trainer themselves to take that posture and to really affirm and not accept being referred to as prof danglais i mean as you say i don’t know if i may have would have in the past corrected someone but maybe now after this conversation i would be more likely to say no actually yes because it does i mean of course we are a business and we’re a service oriented business and when the only time slot available is lunch we do what we can for the client so yes we do it we as trainers we all do work through lunch and i accept that myself as part of my obligation at times but it’s appreciable and appreciated your attitude and it also gives me food for thought as a trainer to try and also um defend that argument and dealings i’d support you in that obviously we have to be polite no aggressivity because most of the time people don’t realize what they’re saying and what it means you know uh but i think the parallel with your first name is a good one if somebody mispronounces your name or miss you know doesn’t even remember your name absolutely this can i just a final word of course sometimes i’m very surprised when i asked a learner well who was your trainer and they don’t know the trainer’s first name was catherine i find that shocking i find that shocking now why does that is it because the trainer hasn’t said his name or is it because the learner just doesn’t really care what the the person’s name is i don’t know it’s a good point in food for thought as the name of this broadcast is because of course it’s up to us as well to reassert or assert ourselves after the first lesson or insert ourselves into the conversation as not just the person who shows up with worksheets but exactly the coach the trainer the partner in learning yeah and and and the i think one of the ways that we can um make people appreciate their english language training is for them to see the successes after one two three or four sessions of english they can see that they’re making progress and that coming to the english session is a must for them because wow yes now i know a few expressions that i can use in my emails right you know i have built a glossary of terms with my trainer of expressions that i can use in my emails and that means well yeah it’s not just okay it’s fun to go to english hopefully it’s always fun yeah but it’s useful and i will make time for that in my day because i’m getting something out of it that’s a great reminder to all of us trainers listening to remember to put that little check in and to feel free to remind people what they’ve learned over the previous weeks exactly and um there again i noticed your pointed use of the word session and not class not course yes this is a professional environment yes well daphne i know your time is limited so i want to thank you for this enlightening conversation and we hope anyone listening will give a second thought to how they present themselves and what they use to refer to themselves as trainers so thank you very much well if if we all can feel uh confident in ourselves what we do we know what we’re doing is good then we should be proud of that and the way of being of showing that we’re comfortable in that position is to act like you are that person i always remember when i started the company a coach said to me you don’t believe in yourself do you daphne and i said well you know i’m a trainer and i’m trying to build my company and she said half the battle is that you have to believe that you’re the manager of this company and believing it shows it you know you send you send the right vibes you send the messages out to people okay i am the manager and you can do that as a trainer okay i’m your trainer i know what i’m doing this is my worth and this is why i’m here and this is how i can help you absolutely and as a trainer we are many of us or those who are freelance or an independent you are the manager and ceo of your own business there that’s right so it really does believe in yourself it’s the best that’s what i i say to everybody actually you you can do more than you think you can do a fantastic advice and a great note to finish on thank you so much thank you for talking to me see you soon bye-bye thanks for joining us in the business class esl break room a podcast designed to bring business english trainers useful ideas inspiration and conversation that motivates follow us on instagram at business underscore class underscored language and subscribe to the esl break room playlist on spotify deezer or apple music for new episodes see you next time [Laughter] [Music]