“You’re a language and communication coach? Hmmm. What’s that? Is that like a tutor?”
This is a common question that I get when I tell people what I do. My answer is usually something like this:
I work with people who are experiencing communication challenges at work or in the community, such as feeling very nervous when giving presentations, or not being understood when speaking with colleagues. Usually, my clients have been through ESL classes already, and have enough English skills to get a job in Canada, but need additional support once they are working to feel more confident with their oral and written communication.
“But I still don’t get what a coach is.”
Right. Imagine you’re a hockey player (we’re in Canada, after all) on a professional team. Who is the person who helps you to perform at your best?
The answer is, of course, the coach. I then follow with another question:
And how do you, as a hockey player, improve your strength, fitness level, and hockey skills?
The answer usually includes any of the following: practice, training, hard work, instruction/guidance from trainers and the coach.
Finally, I bring the comparison back to language and communication. Like a hockey coach, my role as a language coach is to guide my clients through a process to reach their specific language and communication goals. I plan, set goals, listen carefully, instruct and give information as necessary, and motivate my clients to work hard and be self-directed in achieving success. Together, we explore approaches for optimal — meaning brain-friendly — learning, and how to make the necessary adjustments to get into the perfect learning zone.
I’m passionate about the energy that is created when clients are in that learning zone, and it takes time to get there sometimes, but a language coach plays an encouraging and supportive role to bring about results and build communicative confidence.