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About the Episode
Join us for an energizing and insightful conversation with classically trained theatrical actor/director and seasoned linguist/ESL language trainer, Jim Phetterplace. Based in Germany, and an active member of the vibrant Frankfurt theater community, American-born Jim Phetterplace brings a wealth of business, education, theater and ESL training experience to the table. In this podcast, he explains the remarkable parallels between the theater arts and ESL Business English training.
Jim offers some eye-opening insights, including the role of empathy in training for the ESL trainer and some practical ideas for bringing more life and authenticity to your training sessions.Don’t miss this delightful and upbeat conversation.
Jim’s thoughtful reflections and infectious laugh are totally worth the stop in the Business Class ESL Breakroom. You’ll be glad you came!
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] i’m so excited today because we’ve got james phetterplace here with us and we are going to have a super conversation i’m sure about the intersection of theater and language training so this is a very unique concept to my mind um jim and i go way back we taught together in frankfurt germany and he became my boss subsequently so jim fhetterplace so james do you prefer james jim that’s preferable jim yeah jim okay jim has quite a unique background he self-describes as operating in multiple related fields combining business theater language and education so i think that’s kind of a dream come true for a language trainer um he studied at go to university um linguistics and applied linguistics at leicester university sorry in the uk right so along with um a degree in acting and directing from illinois wesleyan university in the u.s so you certainly have a lot of experience and knowledge to back it up um in all of these fields so what we invited you here today to do is just to talk to us a little bit about your experience as a language trainer and how the theater has informed your experience training would that be a good starting place that is i agree i think i can mention or i would look at it this way my theater on the theater side it’s more my experience as a director which informs the teaching element as a teacher my experience as an actor which explores the my understanding of what it means to be a learner i also have and as you you know as you can imagine from my studies i have my goodness going back to 13 i have 30 plus years let’s not say how many exactly of language learning as well and i think that’s very important as a teacher to know what it feels like for students to learn a language to be able to understand especially how awkward and embarrassing it can be to be an adult who’s going to have to make mistakes and say the wrong thing slip up um because i mean we talked a little bit earlier of recording about how many students will lack the confidence that will really serve them in learning a foreign language english or whatever it is and i’m just going to say right now i think english is easier to learn than french but that’s a personal opinion pardon me i now when i’m working with actors on the stage it’s all about getting them comfortable in their own skin and willing to experiment and willing to play and discover with the final aim of communication communication between the actor and the audience and in other forms the exact same way for me in the classroom getting my students in the position to open themselves up be willing to laugh at themselves and each other or with maybe better said with each other and looten up and recognize it that’s a necessary step in the learning process i love that yeah i love what you that you bring also this sense of empathy a deep empathy is what i’m hearing that is a terrific point absolutely it’s a terrific word i think that um that’s been the basis for my own success my students feel that i understand them and i think that i do i mean i i understand them and i want the very best for them of course i love getting paid that’s why i do it as well but um there are lots of different fields i could go into as a teacher and it’s just i love that experience of helping them discover and grow i mean when i see the aha look in their minds when they finally make the connection between whatever if it’s as simple as a new grammatical format or how to make a sound or you know how to say that expression they love so much in german but or french whatever my name speakers languages are how to say that in english and be able to have that success feeling it’s terrific yeah that is fantastic in there it’s yeah so how do i do that well i’m guessing that many of your own listeners have their own techniques for warming up the students and i understand fully that it’s very much situation dependent if i’m working with senior management i’m not going to bring in the same techniques as i would with children um i might but i’m going to sell them differently [Laughter] it’s um but yeah loosening them up and i mean i laugh at myself plenty of plenty i mean i just i make mistakes i i have to start over again and i just laugh at it and shrug it off and the students recognize that not as incompetence but his confidence absolutely i think that’s very important what you just said because sometimes as the trainer we want to go in and feel like we are the knowledge bringer but no if you can be authentic and vulnerable you give them permission to make mistakes with you great well said well that’s right i absolutely agree and it’s they like that and um i mean in theater training my goodness we had hours upon hours dedicated to how to listen really how to listen how to truly listen to what somebody else is saying your fellow actor in this case i mean i i say listen maybe i’m using it a bit maybe i widen it a bit more to say how to observe how to take in what your fellow actor is giving you whether it’s physically audioly in some way we can’t even measure any in current technology who knows but um we spend hours on that on focusing on getting out of ourselves and listening to the other person and i do that with my students i mean it’s just not it’s never turned off and i recognize that they don’t have the same training i do they simply feel heard and that relaxes them it creates an environment where students share things that sometimes surprise me of course i wouldn’t share them further but it’s um they really just feel very they come into the after a few lessons after a month or so of lessons they’ll come in and they’ll just already be in that great place for learning um amazing what you’re saying and what i’m hearing with you jim because we we touched briefly off uh recording as you said about this neural language coaching um which i’m doing and it’s the exact same thing it’s about relaxing the brain and empathy is the key and having i think that’s a basic human need to be heard to feel that you’ve been heard and validated and that does open up the space a whole new space for the person to to experiment try language and so whether or not you’re a neural language coach or a theater well no i’m really interested to learn more about this i’ve already made a note even for people who are just classically trained tefl trainer it’s a great insight that empathy you can just work on that empathy skill and have your learners feel heard that alone will open open new channels i think for the dynamics you know i well let me say it differently i think empathy is tough tough to learn as an adult already um i’m very glad to see that there’s a lot more focus starting to happen on specifically teaching children empathy if they aren’t already learning it in the home which would be ideal but sadly not always the case i think um if i were a teacher who didn’t really understand what we’re saying here what do you mean listen what do you mean empathize either you have it or you don’t i mean it’s that i would say um first of all you need to maybe zip it a bit you need to shut up a bit and let your students talk more yeah you find yourself doing most of the talking you’re not achieving your purpose as a teacher yeah um let them talk morally give them the time don’t finish their sentences for them give them the time to search for it show them they can ask if they can’t find what they’re looking for the word the expression let them or even better and this is this is when i know i’ve won when the students are helping each other [Music] they’re asking each other for help instead of always me yeah you’ve created that atmosphere of confidence and trust in each other yeah that trust in that that you’re not i’m not going to be embarrassed to ask for help from my fellows and um that’s terrific experience but it’s so listed when i say listen more i mean i mean this is not a therapy session you know teaching should not be a therapy session sometimes it feels like it but that’s not really the purpose of it but and yet just if i hear off the bat that one of my students who i know at this point sounds stressed or sounds distracted or sounds sad or some other thing that’s not really some other condition or state of mind is not really um efficient for it doesn’t facilitate learning then i will perhaps ask a follow-up question [Music] and then try to steer it back in the direction of business or their basically give them permission acknowledge that they’re not at their best and then give them permission to lay it to the side for 90 minutes or 45 minutes or whatever the lesson takes that’s funny like that’s a nice tip to gracefully handle by acknowledging okay i sense you’re not feeling well today but we can can’t put it aside for 90 minutes and work on your english yeah and we don’t know what to do sometimes we don’t know what to do with somebody like that so no it’s great to have a little toolkit of fun exercises or very different exercises that will distract them because i mean i think it’s a relief for someone who’s in pain as well whether that pain is stress sadness or grief or whatever but um and so yeah i don’t want to go too deeply into that i think that if if you’re facing that issue if you find yourself with more than one student or facing that issue on more than the rare occasion i would certainly recommend taking some course specifically for handling situations like that but i just did want to mention that maybe we’ve said enough about it that empathy is a critical element in developing not just it’s not about your students liking you which feels terrific because i like them too but it’s about creating this atmosphere where people come in and you get a lot of the nonsense that normally interferes with learning out of the way they relax they’re eager to listen they’re eager to participate wow how wonderful half the work is done absolutely absolutely i don’t i agree with you i think your preaching is converted but really empathy is is the uh no a uh from primordial um elements being a good trainer but what you touched upon you did mention okay you’ve got a toolkit you’ve got tips and tricks and that is something else i wanted to pick your brain about um because you are a seasoned trainer and you must have lots of ideas i’ve i would love to hear some concrete things maybe you like to use in the class that i understand that this is probably what the listener is most hoping for and waiting for so i will get to that um a couple of things a couple of things that i couldn’t even tell you if i learned them specifically from acting in theater my theater training or picked them up along the way i’m not sure but um certainly they do reflect the sort of learning you get also in a theatrical training program a drama training program um let’s start with some simple basics i don’t teach a lot of absolute beginners in germany it’s pretty rare to find someone who has no has had never had lessons in english in germany but you know a couple of them some places the german struggle is with pronunciation of certain sounds that they just don’t have in german and i believe this is true of french as well i should know that because i have learned some french as well but for example i don’t think you have the th sound do you right no they struggle with that right and i know that um the few french students i’ve had struggle with the sound the long and short e sound making the distinction between them which can lead rather embarrassing situations sometimes you say say the wrong thing and so we will as warm up at the beginning of a lesson and depending on how much time i have that will decide how much time i’ll give to something like this if i have a workshop that’s longer than 90 minutes i always start with a vocal warm-up and maybe even a little physical one but the warm-up is more of a um depending on their level it might be as simple as sort of just doing big smiles and shrinking your face in order to because yeah because this the trick to getting this e sound out is you have to understand how to get your mouth widened for it because if you’re used to the french speaking french and you’re you know your your mouth is forward you’re not going to get a really wide e um germans do not have trouble with those particular sounds because they’re in german as well but i would most definitely and you you know you and i have a mutual friend who’s french i did an exchange with her for many many years and we worked on these to get a pro it’s not it’s not that you can’t make the sound it’s that she doesn’t it’s not in her muscle memory as we would call it in theater it doesn’t come automatically she has to think about it and force it the way i originally had to think about and create the mouth shape to make the german umlaut vowels the vowels with the diacritics out uh when i first came here that um oh yeah and that is still an issue in the french the two and the yeah how you really getting and you can you get those nasals out we don’t really have proper nasals in english um you know lots of us make them anyway but [Laughter] um so for the french it’s question of just getting it into their muscle memory and that requires repetition repetition repetition and so when i have students who are struggling with that i would do the uh chip cheap cheap chip chip cheap i just stay with one sound combination for example um i wrote down like a dozen of them i know those that i’ve had them on paper that’s not so important i mean i i think that any english teacher over there would be able to come up with their own but um i start with the simple ones with just one sound leading one vowel leading into it uh beat bit pete pit feet fit seep sip seek sick and so on and so would you have them stand stand up with you and repeat them yep i would have them exaggerate them so we do a seek sip and i’ll and i’ll consciously walk them through i want you to feel it don’t just make it but feel it i want you to feel the stretch on the side of your mouth seek try to remember how wide is it going where is it what does that feel like and that’s about getting it into their muscle memory i love the term muscle memory because it’s very visceral it’s very it gives me a picture in my head to go oh okay my muscles are working and remembering things and that’s a great thing as a woman and afterwards you don’t need to tell them go there i mean one little signal from the brain and they’ll do it on their own it’s fantastic i must tell you i i spent time teaching in a traditional classroom uh in high school and i say please take out a sheet of paper and those french teenagers thought that was hilarious yes exactly how long did it take before you changed a leaf of paper um i went exactly and that’s a problem where they i mean it’s great it’s great if you could laugh about it it’s if it’s distracting it’s not so great but i mean it is it is fun it can be fun but i love that you put in an esl setting these physical muscle-based exercises where people are really using their bodies not just their brains to acquire language and i’m sorry i find it so integral because um perhaps french learners are i mean french learners of english are much more responsible and disciplined but i know that my students do not have the discipline on average to do it over and over again at home of course not so so you have to take that five minutes to help them repeat it if that’s the only five minutes they’re going to get twice a week or once a week it’s certainly better than nothing and it is imperative to not embarrassing yourself yourself when you’re speaking english isn’t it just that little difference it’s true because you can make a certain pronunciation mistakes can can be embarrassing yes sir that’s right and you can do the tongue twister you know if when you’ve got advanced students you can do the tongue twister i split a sheet of sheet i slit upon a slitted sheet i sit to challenge them [Laughter] um it’s so that yeah that’s one of the warm-ups that vocal warm-up the stretch now for your teachers i would even remind them the tip stretching the face stretching any muscle is a relaxation technique as well so you are very subtly getting them into a playful relaxed mood by doing it that’s a great second layer to this okay wow um so that’s i don’t do you know typical stretches arms up and to the side and bend and twist and um i i say that i don’t do it i have found if i’m doing an intensive course for a week i will do it in the middle of the day brilliant yeah i agree to get people’s blood going again after being sitting on their butts um it’s true yeah i will march them around the room to pre-cover it and we’d march around repeating i don’t know irregular verbs or that’s right or a simple song if you know depending on their level just getting that you know the text in their head so that’s and you know i’ll build on i’ll add other sounds to it like the you know um [Music] the three or three i’m not i can’t even think of example at the moment off the top my head but um breach and bridges or something just adding multiple sounds before and after the target sound same thing with the th do the th and the th i find is a lot harder for my students to grasp it’s a lot trickier of a vocal combination to make um and so i’ll just focus on one of them at a time i won’t teach the unvoiced and the voices at the same time in the same lesson okay i just focus on the unvoiced because it is a little bit easier nice i find um and and go through them just go through teeth and see oh no see this is the voice one forget i said that i know what i’m talking about and then build the combinations like thirsty and three and thirty and thirty three and um okay so that’s those are ones that muscle memory is something i took from from theater instruction as well another exercise i’ve done that works brilliantly with children and young uh young adults it doesn’t work brilliantly with teenagers but it does work and i’ve even used it in a few with a few adult groups if they understand and like each other and that is a combination of word exercise uh word association and charades or sharab i’ll say um things you find in a forest and they have to create it they have to create it physically which as i said it works terrific if you’re working with young people they have to create a tree and the other one can’t just think of another thing [Music] you could find in a forest but they have to think of something that is also connected to a tree whether it’s a bird or a leaf or a root or whatever they think of um so the word association go ahead sorry did that do you mean that you give the theme things [Music] they have to come up with okay the word is going to be tree so there may be in a team against well no this is the nice thing actually i do it one-on-one i just go around in a circle they don’t even have to necessarily know the word that they’re trying to of the thing they’re trying to create so it works for students of a very low level who don’t even have the vocabulary to know the word tree for example i’ll explain later i make the exercise a lot more complicated when i work with more mature students but um and we just try to get the word tree and of course you gotta note it down to make sure everyone captures the word tree and then the next one often thinks of bird for example so no so the person sitting next to them is now on or the person who gets it who guessed it i mean i’ll use the exercise a lot in the beginning when i when i’m teaching basic very very basic vocabulary to low-level learners and i’ll see what kind of works best like are there people who aren’t really guessing in that case then i’ll go in the circle one after another to make sure everyone participates and so they’re physically they they stand up and act like exactly they stand up and make a tree and someone maybe the maybe the kids recognize it but they don’t know the word someone if if no one can get it i will depending on how much experience i think they or exposure they might have had i’ll give them hints like rhymes with me or i mean it sounds like me um or i’ll just give it to them a tree what a wonderful word what a wonderful tree what kind of things do you find in the tree or what’s you know um and when i’m working with when i’ve done the exercise with teenagers i’ll pick a lot more complex topic like and cooler topic like uh things you associate with a rock star with a rap star with a movie star with a video game oh okay um console and yeah exactly console and controller and monitor and they can of course go into specific games first person shooter i mean it’s not the nicest word to learn but uh if you want to have a conversation about modern issues you sort of need it [Music] and they get into it i mean as long as they’re tied into the topic they’re fine with the doing the physicality and laughing at themselves and being silly and teenagers as you know will will go out of their way to be even sillier to pick the most difficult physical thing to recreate that sounds really really fun and and even your inciting interest in the word because once everyone’s so excited by the guy doing the funny tree that they never expected to see standing there like that then everyone wants to know what is that word after all and yes yes and the you’ve got it you’ve got the association you’ve got the word the association and the context all tied together you basically have your neural link in place from the start fantastic i mean it’s it it circumvents i don’t know what you what you’re learning in the neural linguistic training but i remember you know this concept of having to repeat a word three times or seven times or 12 times or repeat the word and the definition and in order to actually get it into your long-term memory and this one is creating neural links on the spot this is physical yes exactly because it’s physical and related to each other and it’s oh yeah yeah the association there is there’s this that’s true we just want to mess up the research study you’re basically mind mapping physically instead of putting it on the board fantastic fantastic so i find that to be a very powerful exercise also taken from i mean the actual the idea of improvisation is of course something that’s a a basic tenet of theater i think um i’m i’m not sure i’m not really paying too much attention to the time i do want it there’s one point i definitely want to get across in terms of tying in theater with language training and that is that the ah and and oh the elsa and omega of theater is communication what am i trying to say who is my audience and what do i want to leave them with what do i want them to understand what impact do i want to have on them and this is integral to more advanced skill sets like presentation like sales even telephoning in english you know in principle but i mean presentation skills are something it’s almost impossible to do without nowadays if you want to achieve a certain success in the modern business world and there’s two to my mind there’s simply too much emphasis on the what do i do how do i say it how do i present it how do i how do i um sell myself and not enough on is this going to have the impact i want on the audience um what do i want to leave them with what’s their takeaway to use a nice modern jargon what is their takeaway what is how do i want them to feel about the information and i think if you start from the very beginning with your audience in mind you cannot make a bad decision because you’ve been an audience yourself you can imagine what your audience knows and what they don’t know and you can and it’s such an easy filter is this word appropriate or is it too jargony or is it too complicated i know i’ve got a fantastic vocabulary i know lots of relief lots of five dollar words like parsimony and irreparable and irrefutable and ubiquitous but if i have a non-native audience what’s the point you know they’re not going to get it so i can easily compare are they going to know what the agbs are if i use that word the gtgt and cs and the fdnos all of these three letter four letter acronyms i use in my office place great shortcuts within my company but is my audience outside the company are they going to know them do i have to use other words um am i boring them if i’m boring if i’m asking myself am i boring them i’ve com obviously completely disconnected from my audience and i’m in my own head and this comes back to i’m sorry i’m not being exactly linear with this delivery here uh i’m not even following my own advice i um this comes back to the confidence issue if i’m focused on my audience i don’t have any time to worry about what i look like or what i sound like or am i how am i doing fabulous points all jim my goodness i could listen to you all day uh focus on exactly what impact do i want if i want them to love it then a i know i’ve got to love it otherwise there’s no i mean i have to often authentically love it or be able to pretend i do really well um otherwise it’s just not going to work if i want them if i want to change their mind which as every listener will know is probably the most difficult thing you can do change someone’s mind yeah i mean if that’s secretly what they want and they’re not admitting it that’s a different thing but literally change their mind i mean i must have to know i need to approach them on the cognitive level the information i give has to be accurate and convincing and the effective level it has to be emotional and appealing and they gotta want it they gotta feel the benefit of that change of mind that different opinion um i got to hit them on all of those and you know the bit of the hold hand and everything but that’s that’s a bit more to advance for this particular podcast but in any case all i want all i want to say is that that was a theatrical technique i brought over immediately from the start what impact am i having on my on my learners and what impact when they’re preparing a presentation are they having on me as the listener or on the imagined audience the future audience projected one um i will point out i also was in discovered toastmasters back in 92 and was there for 12 years and i thought it was a brilliant for the money for the investment a brilliant uh program for developing yourself absolutely little by little slowly it’s not the best one if you’re in a in a rush then you should fork over the big bucks that you really pay the money to to take the dell car into gear or something a bit more modern but um if you’ve got the time what a terrific way you’re nodding i think you’re familiar with it as well aren’t you yeah as a matter of fact toastmasters for the some of you may not be aware it’s a public speaking support group for lack of a better word it’s a program it’s international and you find them in many many cities across the world and paris has a couple i don’t know if you’re if your local town has one or not i was a member um the year i got pregnant so i or just before so i was short-lived remember but i did enjoy it tremendous and i saw the incredible transformation in many people in their careers and their personas and i bringing it back to training i do tell my higher level people absolutely if they’re very serious about improving their english and making an impact on their career i tell all of them to check out toastmasters because there’s one or two bilingual groups in paris and you know the toastmasters do not want people coming to practice quote unquote english but they welcome people who are bilingual and who may want to improve you do have to have a certain level but i absolutely recommend it i think as trainer it’s great for us but as a learner as well if they’re strong enough to do it i couldn’t recommend it enough that’s right and what a terrific way to build your confidence i would say um yeah yeah confidence was that that was one other thing i’m jim all of the things you’ve been mentioning already are so phenomenal i could dive deeper into each one um so we’ve talked about uh pronunciation i’m sure we could talk hours on that we’ve talked about you know the impact the communication and that brings a whole other layer that many trainers might not be thinking of when they come in to step into the training room um but also the confidence that’s the number one issue i find as a trainer with french learners um and because so many of them have been damaged in the school system i hate to say it but they come out terrorized and so confidence is huge so you mentioned toastmasters um do you have any other i just i mean you’re talking about we’re talking about uh an actual kind of trauma here there’s no there’s no question about it there’s no bones to pick about it is true um it isn’t as common i would say over here but and yet i have a student right now who’s whose experience and his and is still so fresh in his head from years before that is in his way it’s like a third participant in the room um and it’s like so many things that takes patience the empathy is a big part of it i mean they have to trust you they have to trust that you’re not going to make them feel worse and you really can’t do anything to make them feel i mean you shouldn’t you’re not allowed to do anything to make them feel worse um phrase you have to a lot of trainers don’t use much praise i mean you you might get a that’s right or correct out of us but enthusiasm enthusiasm for someone making a discovery or finally getting something correct i think there’s room for a lot more of that and yes for many adults it can feel a little artificial to praise other adults like oh my god if i praise you it means i’m setting myself above you i’m so much more better or special or whatever um or i’m trying to get something out of you and it comes across a very sycophantic or something or manipulative but that’s because it’s not authentic then if i’m empathizing with my students if i truly get excited to see them improve to make a discovery to say something correct for the first time ever it’s not inauthentic for me to be like that’s it exactly do it one more time yes oh it’s music to my ears one more time um ah they they’re glowing with pride yeah in situations like that and they need and people well all of us need a bit of that in our lives but people who are facing low level or high level trauma need even more of it i mean they just they’re they’re they’ve got nothing there to blow themselves up with so each of those gives them a kind of anchor to be like oh god that was such a good feeling last week i’m not an idiot i’m not useless it’s not you pointless to try to take this lesson because i will never learn english my teachers told me so my parents told me so my friends told me so whatever um so be more generous with authentic praise and if it isn’t authentic leave it out forget it because that just does more damage than yeah they’ll feel it yeah exactly as the trainer but if you can if you can if it’s if it’s inauthentic for you to actually say something then be willing to smile more enjoy for yourself as a teacher your students progress how marvelous yeah that means you’re making a difference in someone’s life i mean it’s marvelous so enjoy it and smile yeah um you know give them something to help so in confidence that’s and another thing is simply don’t try if you’re if you’re dealing with a mixed group that’s one thing because it’s pretty challenging to have people who are very confident and and i think very confident in the sense that maybe they’re really good already or more likely they just are fine about making a mistake or making an idiot of themselves in class they can laugh about it and they’re and it doesn’t impact their ego um and then people who aren’t who can’t do that that’s pretty tough in a classroom but if you can get the less confident on their own um in a group take your time don’t don’t demand the same amount of progress you know and just um and check in a lot more i find in my own lessons i find my student or my teachers excuse me don’t check in enough i mean when i say check-in excuse me that’s not the right phrase what i mean by that is let’s repeat you know let’s go back and and check that i still have all the present tense conjugations for all three friggin verb endings in french [Laughter] um just because i had them back then when we did the last the the unit or units doesn’t mean i still have them now when we’re trying to do the paste compose or whatever go back and do more repetition remind them and then remind them what they’ve just done you still got it you still remember how to do okay we don’t have that in english but you know you’re still remembering to put the s after he she it yeah you know great great unknown um noticing a correct use of language is i’ve heard this the statistic of study uh you know not just praise but yeah praising something correct is better or more impactful than correcting an error so why not say look at you you still got the s great term that good term that’s right i find myself and if i have and this is might be a nice tip for your students who have mixed groups i find myself having to use praise as a way to acknowledge those who are quite quite a bit better um and and yet are still participating in the group so i’ll say you know we’ll we’ll be having a conversation when you’re practicing fluency and product language production because i’ve got students who are you know strong enough to do that they’ll make a gorgeous expression in french and english excuse me you know or they’ll just build quite a complex sentence in english like wow okay um but they’re all together in a group even though it’s not the most efficient for language learning if they’re together for team building or whatever because they’re all in the same department um then i’ll be saying now you know johan just used a wonderful expression that we haven’t covered yet nice and kind of capture that and you know maybe repeat it i won’t make it it’s not the point of my lesson at the moment so i don’t suddenly turn the lesson into let’s analyze this expression i’ll just capture it make a note of it for myself and later on and then johan gets yet another little pat on the back a month later when we come back to that expression because it fits my lesson plan um so it’s that’s a nice way and of course you know there’s nothing wrong with praising people who are very low level who are getting it yeah i mean it’s um you know i often say that’s exactly right or you know um i understood every word of this i sentence that’s great i think this is really helpful jim for other trainers to hear even just a simple thing like what you’re saying a concrete how do you say it how do you praise because well or in our own little bubble we don’t hear other trainers that often i might say that’s correct and you say you know it’s great to hear what you’re saying so you’d love to hear yeah that’s a good point it’s true we don’t often get to hear how other people are doing they might be doing the same thing but how what do you say what is um no it’s i well you know what my success speaks for itself my students ask for me back so i i know that i’m on the right track i still like to learn new methodologies but i really like to get on note i really feel very good that i’m on the right track with them and unlike perhaps earlier in my career i feel like their progress is my proof that’s enough it’s too easy for teachers to fall into this trap of becoming entertainers alone and not feeling like they’re making any impact and this is beautiful what i love what you brought to the table today is you are an attention or truly you are a trained educated entertainer yet you’re using those skills coupled with empathy to bring progress to these people it’s not the gym show although i know you personally i know i could sit and listen to you all evening or like you know and associates oh you’re right i know i could keep them on at the end of the edge of their seats for 90 minutes they just wouldn’t really learn much you’re putting your skill in the service and maybe this is just even a nice jump off point for learners or trainers listening to think okay how can i like maybe they know they have that charisma they know they have that great storytelling ability but how can they put a little bit right how do you yeah how do you channel it how do you channel it to make it effective for the learning environment this has been wonderful sue i’m so glad you had me on i’m delighted do you have one more little question of course so since we are now in the age of zoom and everybody on camera do you have any tips this is not theater i know you do theaters do you have any tips um to make your lessons more compelling or your visual or even visually appearing i will be honest with you i know that there are a lot of tools available for teaching online and i am woefully ignorant about many of them i simply use zoom or skype for business or web exchange or whatever it’s called um or microsoft teams i think all four of those i use during the week um [Music] i so i don’t take advantage of a lot of these interactive things which i think are very useful when your participants are all over the place my um uh my challenge my challenge i recognized rather early is how do you make a lesson effective when it’s when the this when the format really responds best to i can’t think of what we called it in english but in german we say fuental even though this is a podcast sorry listeners [Laughter] me to the student um and it’s so difficult to get a conversation going a natural paced conversation going between the participants um and so i am finding that i’m using this time praying that it won’t last more than another year hopefully not even that much um i finding this time to focus a lot more on their written skills than their speaking skills the groups that i have with with only one exception they started before kobe began so they know each other in person and we’ve had the benefit of in classroom training um the exception i’ve got another group that started afterwards and they actually quite conveniently asked for a focus on writing and i discovered how much more effective that is doing the writing yes so that no not literally writing online but focusing on right on their written skills online so preparing exercises for them to do during the week and then using that week too and this ties in exactly to what you said sue a lot more there’s a lot more of praising what was done well then there is pointing out errors now individually i might send people an email saying we don’t really say that that’s not understandable in english with some corrections and then i’ll do 15 minutes of here are some of the mistakes that were made without anonymously without mentioning who that i think we could all benefit from understanding how to improve them because i think they’re quite common but then another 15 minutes of i just want to point out some wonderful things that were said and expressions that were used to get the point across and um and students will always be curious about why or what i like about that or why that’s so effective and again now it comes right back to focusing on your reader on your audience and your listener so um that might just be me i mean i might be really dropping the ball by not trying to get onto these platforms that allow a lot more of interactivity and everyone can write on them and stuff i don’t know if you’re familiar with them or not or if you use them well we primarily use zoom and i i know there are a lot as you can do i use the whiteboard and i show videos and have them listen to audios and i wouldn’t say i’m doing anything extravagant or extraordinary but what i wanted to get to with that question also was even more the theatrical tips but i’m gonna if i may give you some feedback jim which i thoroughly appreciate and i want to say it here because i find trainers um or anybody on zoom we forget to look in the camera to give the person the feeling that you’re looking at them because i know that sometimes you’re probably not looking at me but you’re consciously looking at your camera because you know you’re giving me the impression and i do have the impression i’m talking and more often than not and i see myself doing it too we’re all looking at ourselves in a little screen up on our screen oh god no don’t do that did make that that’s my tip never do that yeah exactly and you may be left or the right or or you may be looking at them but your your screen is shifted a bit or your camera whatever so i noticed that in observing we did a little round of observing our our trainers for quality control and it is distracting and it’s it creates a cut off from your learner and it feels like the eyes the i say it all and even more so now don’t they i mean they’re the the the transmitter and perhaps one thing to point out and i think i brought this benefit especially through my theater training my pronunciation or my excuse me my enunciation is pretty badass i hope i’m allowed to say that i very very seldom ever hear the words what was that i didn’t understand what you said um and when it comes to relying on a microphone to get our words across to the to our audience you can barely over enunciate it can be done but you just really you can’t carry attention up here and around the mouth you just can’t i so before every single day of lessons i’m doing my my my yawns my rolls lip rolls my tongue rolls really get rid of tension yes every single also even if i have in person lessons i do them because i have to drive to them i’m doing them in the car really um i want life is already difficult enough i really don’t want to create unnecessary obstruction and blockade in communication so i warm myself up so that i don’t have to focus on it now when i’m when we’re having this podcast the last thing i want is you hearing tension in my throat or raspiness in my because my voice my throat isn’t clear or whatever i don’t want any of those effects um so before we had our podcast i was walking around my office doing the entertaining my dog genius i mean that’s something i am so sure that our fellow trainers hadn’t thought of to do you know lip rolls or how i wouldn’t even know what to do the raspberry um [Laughter] do oh my goodness yeah get all that stuff out of the way that can be gotten away out of the way in seconds we don’t need a minute in the delivery yeah and on and on zoom all the better because no one but no one likes an awful voice yeah yeah it’s a big part doesn’t it um you can follow along with someone or kind of lose it and you what i love your voice is obviously it’s trained so melodic and it flows and goes up and down and it’s just a pleasure to listen to thank you yeah that’s i will i mean agree that is the training that is the that is the theatrical training but you have a beautiful voice but for us everyday trainers who are not classically trained it’s a nice thought you’re leaving us with like maybe some kind of classical acting voice warm-ups could be an idea and i’m sure we can find those on youtube somewhere you so can and you so can all you really want i say all you simply want to look for those exercises that will get this whole thing between your chest and your mouth and your lips warmed up and that probably means some stretching some humming even if you don’t look in if if you don’t manage to find time to look on youtube before your next lesson if you feel if you wake up too late if you have no one to talk to before your lesson then hum and close your lips together not push them together but just let them close and [Music] and let it kind of roll around and it’s absolutely relaxing for the it’s relaxing for this upper part the mouth to the back of the mouth and it’s engaging for the lower part down to the larynx down to your vocal cords and uh you will automatically sound as if you’ve been up for a few hours okay you know working or interacting nobody will know you just got out of bed [Laughter] this has been a blast so much fun may we call upon you another time i hope you will i hope you will the questions you sent ahead of time really even though i made meticulous notes and never looked more than once um it was really really very helpful you guys do a professional job and die thank you thank you well we are delighted and i’m especially delighted to have reason to chat with you and but if this has been enriching i hope it will be inspiring to our listeners to it’s so infectious to hear somebody who loves what we do as i do and it it does kind of give you that little boost of like yeah it’s fun we have a great job don’t we yes we do we are it’s it’s i kind of hate the word blessing but it is kind of a blessing it’s kind of a a wonder that we get to be with people like the way the way that we do that they open themselves up for us and trust us to get them through something awkward embarrassing i would have a little ask for your listeners should they want more yes i would love to hear what their specific questions are about what we talked about i hope they’ll get a hold of you and um okay that’s you hear that that is to call out to everybody listening um please send us questions we’ll make sure jim gets them jim federer place who is frankfurt germany area and um you once covet finishes you will be performing again yes i will be performing again in may the next show that i’m in has been postponed literally from last may multiple times to the coming may fingers crossed and then uh yes and then in the fall again can you tell us some of the venues you perform at the with there are several theaters in frankfurt that you perform there are the the show that i am going to do in may is destined to go up to the catacombs but in german and if it happens we’ll be taken to brussels antwerp taken to a theater festival in belgium but i cannot think of where at the moment uh and then in the international tayata the international theater in frankfurt in the fall and that is a show that i have written adapted from one of my favorite authors the female author and best brand mohawk indian author this year could be very very exciting for me theatrically and if not then next year brilliant well we’ll be so on and very excited to see what you get up to and very very excited to talk to you again really i would love that i would love that thanks so much for getting in touch i hope we have a chance to talk even after the pad podcast is over yes and thank you listeners for uh giving us your attention yeah i think you’re supposed to say that but i’m going to say it for you anyway daddy where’s my boss at one time thanks for joining us in the business class esl break room the 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