Re: ESL speakers

Subject: Re: ESL speakers
From: Barry Campbell <barry -dot- campbell -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: Toni Williams <tonicw -at- yahoo -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 14 Feb 2006 17:50:55 -0500

On 2/14/06, Toni Williams <tonicw -at- yahoo -dot- com> wrote:
> We have a great many engineers, analysts, and qa
> testers for whom English is not their native language.
> While they are very good at what they do, written
> communication has become a significant problem.
> I (the technical writer) have been asked to research
> some resources that would help them improve their
> written English -- web-based or books -- perhaps in
> the forms of exercises???

Toni -

There is absolutely *no* quick, low-cost fix for this situation, as
much as your managers would love for there to be. Buying some
"improve your English now!" workbooks or e-learning courses from the
corporate training charlatan-of-the-week is a waste of time and money.

The best web-based or print resources that will help your engineers
improve their written English are, well, just about any well-written
web site, book, newspaper or magazine in English. The more they read,
and the more they write, the better they will become... over time. A
*long* time.

So encourage them to read, or the New York Times, or the Wall
Street Journal, in their downtime, and when they work on writing
projects that you're involved with, try to provide as much editorial
support and feedback as you can. (One-on-one coaching from editors
can help tremendously, but is resource-intensive, to put it mildly.)

Bringing qualified ESL instructors in to the office to provide classes
would be a good option, but that runs into money. Offering tuition
support for them to take writing classes at the local community
college is another good option, but also not cheap.

Again - there *is* no cheap, quick fix.

Hope this doesn't strike you as too pessimistic, but I've been where
you are right now, more than once.

- bc

Barry Campbell <barry -at- campbell-online -dot- com>
AOL IM: bcampbellnyc

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ESL speakers: From: Toni Williams

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