Speak with Sophistication

When I meet student for the first time it is often at an initial hour-long interview in order to establish a thorough needs analysis. The more I do, the more I notice that corporate English students want to speak with more sophistication often when discussing complex ideas.

It is clear that they are able to speak with confidence in casual environments like these initial meetings but when it comes to communicating complex accounting structures and concepts to non-specialised staff they tell me that it becomes difficult. Equally, when in a social situation it is easy to talk about the weekend but when it comes to discussing the recent budget or Thailand’s recent military takeover, adequate vocabulary tends to be more challenging.

In a recent professional development, a presenter told a story of a man who learnt new languages by reading the newspaper. That might sound a bit optimistic but if I break it down a bit it becomes a handy exercise for building more sophisticated vocabulary.

Rather than just reading for meaning, he would highlight all the collocations and then transpose them onto a page. If we focus on Thailand’s recent shift to martial law he might have ended up with a list of words like this.

  • military takeover
  • former prime minister
  • prominent politicians
  • took over
  • temporary replacement
  • prominent figures
  • military facility
  • military spokesman
  • senior military official
  • top political posts
  • seized control
  • declared martial law
  • restore order
  • push through reforms
  • political turmoil

Following that he would look at the list and try to tell a story out-loud (even to himself in a private place) by using these words to solidify them in his brain.

By doing this relatively short activity, he not only built his knowledge of current affairs and therefore his ability to build rapport with other, but he also built his transferrable knowledge of collocations and his overall vocabulary – and a sophisticated one at that.

Try and make a story with the above words and then read the article they were taken from:


Comment (1)

  • Retta| 23 July 2016

    I love it! You have based this on your understanding of the meaning of leadership, which according to the guru of leadership, John C. Maxwell, is &#ne80;i8fluenc2.ࢭ Finding the influencers is key. Good luck with this worthy new venture, Brian!

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