Human communication and languages
An undeniable innate ability that enhances our capacity for collaboration and growth is, certainly, our propensity for communication and for bridging any gaps between us and a friend, partner, potential ally, associate or any individual with whom we can connect and from whom we can learn.
Using human language, a uniquely compositional and referential tool, we succeed in our endeavors, in understanding, expressing and often resolving issues that would stand between us and our self-realization.
Learning and successfully using more than our mother tongue, is undoubtedly a valuable asset for more reasons that one would imagine. Clearly, cultivating our intercultural mindset and truly exploring all the rich tapestries of traditions, history, and societies residing outside of our comfort zones, would perhaps top our list of incentives to take up a new language or improve one we half-acquired some time ago.
Securing a competitive advantage in our professional career would also sit high up on that list of reasons for pursuing a second or third language, knocking out a few monolingual blocks from the bottom of the pyramid we have our eye on.
Speaking multiple languages and the human brain
The aforementioned advantages, though, would perhaps pale in front of the vast cognitive benefits that learning a new language actually offers. Enhanced memory, listening skills, better use of one’s native tongue, and multitasking abilities are an undisputed gain and research supports that it also presents long-term benefits for the mind.
Keeping in mind that learning multiple languages not only expands your horizons culturally, academically and professionally, but also improves your mental health fundamentally and physically, where do you go to hone your speaking skills? You have most likely heard friends say that the best opportunity they were presented with to truly become fluent in a second language came when they studied or were relocated abroad for a semester; if they had not overcome their lack of confidence in
Building fluency in a safe environment
Seeing that your immediate plans for the future may not include venturing beyond your country’s borders -and why would they, seeing that technology has covered our bases for communication with our foreign counterparts abroad- you would love to try to elevate your speaking skills in a safe environment where you will not feel judged for forgetting a word or for struggling to piece together a coherent sentence.
Beyond a classroom setting, how do you manage to get in some practice time when your meetings at work with colleagues from abroad are spaced far apart or that trip you have been planning isn’t happening for another couple of months? Surely, practice makes perfect, we’ve all been told. And key to actually implementing what you have studied is found in real-time performance.
The LTES Speaking Club has been created and implemented on multiple occasions over the years, within and outside of business settings, creating small groups of people who are seeking this opportunity. It encompasses the room and time needed to express your thoughts, listen and understand other speakers, come across ideas that you have not had the opportunity to express before in class. It challenges you to speak about a variety of topics, offer an opinion and ask questions in a relaxed online environment, monitored and facilitated by an experienced speaking coach.
Just like in real life, you find yourself in the company of other adults, of various levels of knowledge of the language, who are also there to try to build their fluency. The conditions reflect everyday work and social adult life, and the topics of discussion center on real life issues. Although we often feel that we can talk about our job and responsibilities at the office, we rarely have an opportunity such as this, to step outside of our comfort zone and discuss the news, current events and cultural issues. The trainer assists and supports the members of the Speaking Club and makes certain that everyone has a chance to practice speaking and participate in the capacity they can.
Our goal is to offer a safe online speaking space to adults who are working on their speaking skills, where they can tackle various subjects and even connect with new friends or colleagues. The Speaking Club is available:
- to companies, where a team of colleagues can be registered for weekly speaking sessions and work together to support each other in a mutually beneficial team-building atmosphere
- or to individuals who would like to join a group and get started, improving their language skills and boosting their confidence when speaking in a second language.
Written by Emily Yerolatsiti, LTES Senior Academic Coordinator