Cómo medir con éxito la formación de inglés en las empresas

medir20Presentación de los exámenes oficiales ANGLIA en Catalunya

Ziggurat English Services y Anglia Ascentis Esol Examinations presentan sus exámenes oficiales en Catalunya. Gracias a la incorporación de Ziggurat como agente de Anglia, las empresas podrán evaluar con precisión el progreso que los alumnos están alcanzando, para reportarlo a los responsables de la formación, así como proveer diplomas internacionalmente reconocidos que certifican el nivel de inglés de los alumnos.

Descargar programa.
Descargar formulario de inscripción.
(También aparecen en los archivos adjuntos en el pie de este artículo).

JORNADA PRESENCIAL
Fecha:
Martes, 5 de marzo de 2013
Horario: 09:15-12:30 horas
Hotel Catalonia Plaza Catalunya (C/Bergara 11, 08002 Barcelona)
Evento gratuito
Dirigido a
: responsables de RRHH, responsables de departamentos de formación, alumnos de inglés, personas que quieran certificar su nivel de inglés, centros de formación y consultorías.

Hay que hablar el idioma del cliente

El miércoles 20 de febrero asistí a la interesante jornada ¿Cómo internacionalizar en tiempos difíciles? organizada por APD, CESCE y KPMG, en el Hotel Meliá de Barcelona.

En la primera parte, el profesor Xavier Mendoza de Esade nos dio las claves para internacionalizar la empresa en un tono prudente, invitándonos a analizar los riesgos sin precipitarnos y recordándonos que los mercados emergentes no son los más adecuados para empezar.

Beatriz Reguero, de CESCE, nos informó sobre cómo gestionar el riesgo en operaciones de internacionalización y Antonio Hernández García, de KPMG, nos habló de innovación y de la importancia de cumplir estándares como estrategia de marketing para tener éxito fuera de nuestras fronteras. También nos recordó que sólo un 4% de las empresas que empezaron a exportar en el 2002 siguen exportando en el 2012.

En la segunda parte, en una mesa redonda moderada por Xavier Puig (director de Negocio Internacional de Banc de Sabadell), Oriol Guixà (Consejero Delegado de La Farga Group), Eduardo Jaklitsch (Director General de Comforsa),  Jaime Caballé (Director Comercial Corporativo de Germans Boada), Joan Hinojo (Director General de Circontrol) y Pau Relat (Consejero Delegado de Mat Holding), compartieron sus experiencias profesionales internacionales, hablando de sus éxitos y fracasos (o errores como dijo el representante de Comforsa) con claridad y sentido del humor.

Una idea que se repitió en casi todas las intervenciones fue la importancia de los idiomas para llevar adelante un proceso de internacionalización exitoso, tanto para exportar o tener filiales en otros países, o para atraer a inversores. Vale la pena escuchar y dejarnos asesorar por profesionales que llevan años en procesos de internacionalización y empezar a poner el acento en invertir en formación de idiomas si queremos que nuestras oportunidades se multipliquen.

Para finalizar me despido con las palabras del profesor Mendoza: “para tener éxito hay que hablar el idioma del cliente, y sobre todo entender su cultura para minimizar el hándicap de ser extranjero”.

Más por qué y menos qué

Estos últimos días de noviembre, estoy reviviendo la época de los exámenes de final de trimestre, gracias a mi hijo que está en primero de la ESO.

Viéndole estudiar me doy cuenta de que hay cosas que han cambiado mucho: las nuevas tecnologías le permiten acceder a recursos pedagógicos extras que en nuestro tiempo eran impensables.

Sin embargo, otros aspectos no han cambiado: los profesores siguen estando ahí, como pilar fundamental para guiarnos, interesarse por nuestros progresos, motivarnos y darnos un toque cuando no estamos haciendo lo que deberíamos. Estos profesionales, a veces infravalorados, son cada vez menos “libros con piernas”. Son facilitadores que nos ayudan a ser más críticos y que acabarán convirtiéndose en nuestros entrenadores en el proceso de aprendizaje.

Supongo que como muchos de vosotros, apenas me acuerdo de qué me enseñaron mis mejores profesores, qué metodologías seguían o qué tipos de trabajos me pedían. Me acuerdo de cómo me enseñaron a aprender, de cómo me trataron y de cómo me animaron a dar lo mejor de mí. ¿Y por qué ponían tanto empeño en todo lo que emprendían? Porque amaban su trabajo y creían en el valor de lo que hacían.

Y eso es lo que aprendí de ellos, lo que me mueve cada día para entender qué precisa el otro, escuchándole, preguntándole e interesándome por sus necesidades. Como parte del equipo de Ziggurat, no me obsesiona el qué ofrecemos, me obsesiona el “por qué y el cómo lo ofrecemos” porque es lo que realmente marca la diferencia.

Sabemos que los idiomas son muy valiosos a nivel personal y profesional. Todos podemos aprenderlos con compromiso y perseverancia, con la ayuda de un profesor y con horas de autoestudio. Por eso nos dedicamos a motivar a nuestros alumnos a crear un hábito de estudio diario, por ejemplo a través de la Daily Vitamin, y les animamos a mantener el contacto con el inglés participando en actividades como el Breakfast in English o el Talk About. Queremos que nuestros alumnos nos recuerden por el interés que ponemos en que consigan sus objetivos.

No sé qué recordará mi hijo dentro de unos años. Supongo que olvidará muchos de los conceptos que está estudiando ahora pero lo que seguramente no olvidará es cómo le valoraron y cómo le animaron a crecer y a superarse. 

Me despido dejándoos un vídeo que puede inspiraros a poner más énfasis en el por qué  y menos en el qué:

 

Take the SMART approach with your English at Ziggurat

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“–so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”
Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

Ever felt like Alice about your English? Maybe you feel as if you have been “studying” English for an eternity but are still at the same level and making no real progress.

Well as the Cheshire Cat is telling Alice, you wouldn’t begin a journey (at least most of us wouldn’t!) without knowing where you were going. The same can be said about your English learning. Setting targets are a great way of keeping yourself focused and motivated. You may have heard about SMART goals in other areas of business, so why not set some for your language learning too?

Specific
Measurable
Attainable
Relevant
Time-oriented

You really need to be planning the journey from where you are now to where you want to be and it is this “map”’ that will help you to develop your skills and keep you focused. So let your Ziggurat teacher help you to create your SMART study plan.

SPECIFIC
First you need to think about why you really want to learn English in the first place. Do you want to be able to understand suppliers in India on the phone? Are you looking for a new job and want to be prepared to answer interview questions in English? Do you want to be able to participate more in meetings? All these are specific goals.

Once you have your specific destination, think about what you need to achieve it. Imagine that you want to be able to participate more actively in meetings with your international colleagues. What specific steps do you need to take to be able to achieve this? What is stopping you in English? Maybe you need to:

  • Increase your listening skills
  • Increase your fluency and confidence
  • Learn work-related vocabulary and useful expressions for meetings e.g. how to interrupt someone, how to express your opinion, how to disagree.

MEASURABLE
The next step is deciding how you can measure/monitor your progress. If we take the specific goals above, you will know you have progressed when:

  • You understand more of what your colleagues are saying.
  • You are able to speak confidently in meetings.
  • You have learnt the vocabulary and expressions.

ATTAINABLE / ACHIEVABLE 
Now you need to think about how realistic and achievable your goal is and what you can do to achieve it. For example:

  • Do you have time for 2 classes per week to work on your speaking skills?
  • Will you realistically find 3 hours to spend on listening per week?
  • Can you learn 10 new words a week?

RELEVANT
You then need to check that what you are doing in English is relevant to achieving your goal. Is spending 4 hours doing grammar exercises going to help you understand and speak in a meeting? Don’t lose focus.

TIME-ORIENTED
Setting time limits also help us to plan and stay motivated. First, you can set a general deadline e.g. in 6 months I will be able to participate actively at the international conference. Then you need to set time limits for your contact time in English and remember that it is always better to spend a little time every day instead of 3 hours at the weekend:

For example:

  • Listening: I will spend at least 1 hour on listening per week. I will watch one episode of a series (see The Wonderful World of Watching Series in English for some recommendations) and spend 10 minutes every day watching the news in English.
  • Speaking: I will spend 1 hour per week doing 2 phone classes to improve my speaking.
  • Vocabulary: I will spend 10 minutes every day reviewing and consolidating vocabulary related to my work and useful expressions for meetings.

So don’t be like, Alice. Be honest with your Ziggurat teacher about where you want to go and what you can realistically do out of class and he/she can help you to set goals that are SMART, make sure that you follow the “map” (study plan) and get you to your destination!

We’re back!

Buenos días a todos,

En Ziggurat English Services ya estamos de vuelta. Este año académico se presenta con novedades, tanto en cursos extra académicos para empresas y profesionales como en los recursos didácticos que os iremos presentando durante el año. Esperamos seguir compartiendo con vosotros nuestras sugerencias y novedades relacionadas con el aprendizaje del inglés.

Además, deciros que a partir del 17 de septiembre retomaremos el envío de la Daily Vitamin. Mientras tanto, podéis revisar las vitaminas enviadas y publicadas en la web desde 2003, escuchar sus archivos de sonido, completar las actividades mensuales, etc. Asimismo, si queréis conocer las actividades que tenemos programadas, visitad la sección de agenda en nuestra web.

Por último, comentar que estaremos encantados de recibir vuestras sugerencias de contenidos o cualquier comentario adicional (info@ziggurat.es). Esperamos vuestros emails (!).

¡Hasta pronto!

Improve it, don’t lose it

Summer is a time to relax, to “disconnect” from the stresses of everyday life and to “charge your batteries” (cargar las pilas), as they say in Spanish. What it should NOT be is a time to put your English objectives on hold; summer should be a time to improve your English, not lose it.

As I said, summer is a time to relax and disconnect, so whatever you do with English in the summer should be fun, relaxing and/or entertaining. Things that immediately come to mind are reading in English, listening to the radio in English, watching television, DVDs or films in original version or travelling to an English-speaking country. Following are some other suggestions of things that you can do to maintain or improve your English this summer:

  1. Pronunciation: Read aloud for two or three minutes per day. This will help you to improve your pronunciation and fluency. It can be any text (online or offline), as long as it was written by a native (a novel, a magazine, a newspaper, etc.).
  2. Listening: Watch two or three short videos per week. This will help you to improve your listening skills. We suggest TED, Newsy or the BBC. Remember that you can also listen to hundreds of Daily Vitamins on our website. All of these sources have subtitles or transcripts, so you can also use them to work on pronunciation.
  3. Reading: Read something that genuinely interests you, in English, five to ten minutes per day. Reading regularly in English will help you to improve your vocabulary knowledge and will make you more aware of grammatical structures in English.

These simple activities will guarantee that you at least maintain your current level of English during the holidays, although it is likely that if you are consistent you will actually improve your English while on holidays.

And finally, below we include a few more documents (written in Spanish and English) that might be helpful to you.

If you have your own ideas about how to maintain and/or improve your English during the summer, please post in on our Facebook page for others to see.

Have a very relaxing English-filled summer! We’ll see you in September!

The Happiness of Learning English

La experiencia con el inglés de un alumno de Ziggurat

Con este artículo, iniciamos uno de los ciclos más apasionantes de aprender inglés: la experiencia de nuestros alumnos. Eliseu Vilaclara nos explica cuál ha sido su experiencia y nos deleita con sus ganas de aprender y mejorar día a día. Animamos a todos nuestros alumnos y seguidores a que nos envíen sus relatos para ayudar y motivar a otros alumnos y que compartan sus historias.

My name’s Eliseu Vilaclara and I am a Ziggurat English student.

I’m fifty two years old. This is one of the strange English expressions that I don’t understand: how is it possible, for example, to say: “I’m fifteen years old”? When you’re fifteen you can’t be old! In my case, however, I understand it perfectly. I’m really 52 years OLD. And is it possible to learn English at my age? At the beginning I wasn’t sure, but nowadays I think so.

When I was young, like most of the students of this country in the sixties and seventies, I studied French as a second language (second, because at that time we didn’t study Catalan, or we did almost in secret…). Then, after I’d studied Physics at the University, I realised I needed English. But I didn’t love it. I suppose I didn’t love it because I considered it like an external imposition and I wanted to save Catalan (I still want to). On the other hand I didn’t like English because each time I tried to study it (hardly ever) I started more or less at the same level as I had started at the previous time. The more I studied the less I loved it and I didn’t improve much.

Two years ago I convinced myself that the things had to change. I needed English for my work and, on top of that, I wanted to learn. I met Matthew for the first time, and he spoke to me very clearly: “Learning English is your responsibility. We can help you a little, but it’s your decision to study and practice enough to learn. It doesn’t matter if you spend only ten minutes per day, but do it EVERY day.” He gave me a couple of pages that refuted all the stereotypes I’d just told him five minutes before: “I’m too old, Latin people have more difficulties to learn English, English pronunciation is too different than Spanish or Catalan, the verbs are quite different, etc.”. I left Ziggurat’s office a little bit shocked. For an instant I thought “If I pay you must teach me and I’ll learn”. But after a while I understood that Matthew was right: it was up to me.

I started one to one classes, and I discovered that I was finally learning! Currently I take a couple of English vitamins every day: the Daily Vitamin coming from Ziggurat in the morning, and some pages of any book written in English when I’m in the subway going to work or coming back home. These vitamins plus my weekly homework, my hour and a half of English class, some TED videos, and English speeches to myself when I’m walking in the street, make me more confident, and return to me the feeling that I’m not too old to learn.

For the first time in my life, even though, by the way, I don’t need English any more in my work, I’m happy learning English. I’ve reached a level that allows me to learn while I’m speaking, instead of studying grammar only in a boring book. I’m looking forward to my weekly class, with the challenge to speak better than the previous week. And if I do it, it’s fantastic!

I know that I’m writing this text in an easy way. I’m building short sentences and using very common vocabulary, but I’m able (I hope) to transmit my idea to you in English, and that’s amazing!

Eliseu Vilaclara i Ribas

Do you want a kidnap? I put my foot in it too!

Es interesante conocer las meteduras de pata de otros alumnos de inglés, para no aprender nuevas palabras y saber qué no debemos decir a alguien. Aquí os dejamos una nueva entrada para el concurso I put my foot in it too!

My colleague Aitor arrived back last week from Canada. He came to the company yesterday to say hello to everybody with an incredible quantity of stories to tell, but one of the most hilarious was one that happened to him in a bar.

He was having a coffee with his friends one afternoon when a young woman tripped next to him, spilling some drops of her ice-cream on her blouse. He immediately rose up wanting to offer his help like only a gentleman can do. He quickly helped her to recover her balance and gently offered her a napkin from his table asking with a big smile on his face: “Do you want a kidnap?”

The young woman stared directly at him, hesitating between running away or staying frozen, when they heard all his friends roaring with laughter and shouting: “Not a kidnap! A NAPKIN!!”.

Aitor blushed realizing his mistake and the young woman neither ran away nor stayed frozen. She politely thanked him for his support and gave him a huge smile that remained on her face as she left the bar.

I think Aitor will no longer forget the difference between a kidnap and a napkin, and I will always remember to walk carefully while eating an ice-cream!

Muntsa

El inglés a peso sale caro

Cuando era pequeña mi padre tenía un taller de ebanistería y muchos de sus clientes le encargaban estanterías para sus salones o dormitorios. Algunos de estos clientes, una minoría, compraban libros a peso para colocarlos en esas estanterías con un fin decorativo. Lo más importante de esos libros era su estética y su valor intelectual: que estuvieran bien encuadernados y que fueran obras de renombrados autores.

En definitiva: esos libros a peso proporcionaban una buena imagen.

Esto viene a cuento porque la semana pasada conocí una empresa con esta filosofía. En la actualidad, hay organizaciones que compran formación de inglés a peso, a las que sólo les interesa a cuánto sale la hora, porque lo resultados son secundarios. Para ellas lo importante es ofrecer un beneficio social al empleado, darle un “caramelo”, ofreciéndole clases de idiomas que pueden sufragar con los fondos sociales europeos. Y eso, da una buena imagen.

Pero como todos hemos experimentado, estudiar algo que no necesitas o realizar una actividad sin un objetivo claro es el camino hacia el fracaso o el abandono.

Es una lástima seguir desperdiciando recursos como el tiempo (gestionando papeleo para obtener bonificaciones, pidiendo informes, recogiendo listas de asistencias) y el dinero de los fondos sociales que no traen nada valioso a cambio.

Si realmente se piensa que el inglés puede ser un beneficio, ¿por qué no concretar objetivos y medir resultados? Esto realmente beneficiaría a la empresa y complacería al empleado, ya que estarían mejor preparados para cuando surjan nuevas oportunidades de negocio en el extranjero.

En definitiva: comprar inglés a peso sale caro.

Relaxing Work: Testimony of an Immersion

Last Sunday, May 13th, at 7:00 in the morning, I headed up to the Sant Bernat Hotel in Montseny to begin a three-day English immersion course with four managers from Azucarera. In Ziggurat we have done dozens of English immersion courses and I was accompanied by two experienced Ziggurat teachers, Jenny and Peter, but I have to admit that I was a little nervous since it was the first time we would hold an English immersion in the Sant Bernat Hotel, and Azucarera was a new client.

Thanks to Peter and Jenny’s professionalism, the excellent service offered by the Sant Bernat staff, the delicious food and, above all, the students’ enthusiasm and sense of humour, the course turned out to be one of the most enjoyable that I have ever coordinated or taught on. I was very impressed by the students’ progress and their understanding of an English-learning reality: no one can teach you English, you have to learn it! When these managers return to work, they know that they will have to continue to maintain what they have learned, making English a part of their daily routine by making an effort to increase their daily contact with English.

An English immersion is a very effective, albeit intense, way to improve your English quickly. The Ziggurat immersions vary from 2 days to a week. Immersions do not cause miracles, but if they are done as part of an overall long-term English-training programme, the results can be spectacular. I think that’s why I enjoy participating in them so much. In 48 or 72 hours you can observe lots of progress in the students. And although it’s work (for both teachers and students), it is quite relaxing and both staff and students tend to forget about their problems and stresses waiting for them back home and back at the office.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Peter, Jenny, Joan, Angeles, Carlos and Marcel for their dedication and enthusiasm during the course! I also want to thank Ramon and Carol and the rest of the staff at Sant Bernat (Rocío, Raquel, etc. etc.) for their hospitality. I can’t wait for the next course.