Is your lack of English proficiency holding back your career prospects? Increasingly, organizations see English fluency as an essential skill for technical professionals. This is especially important in the modern workplace as more and more technical professionals work in global teams.
Today’s technical organizations expect professionals to excel at the technical side of their jobs while also expressing confidence in presenting and translating complex ideas, often, in English. Additionally, many top university engineering programs require prospective students to be English-proficient. Some experts say a basic-level understanding of the language simply won’t be enough to become successful in today’s global engineering workforce.
“Electrical engineering is an international field, and it depends upon an increasingly extensive collection of specialized terminology that exists primarily in English,” Robert Keim, All About Circuite’s Director of Engineering, told AAC. “Proficiency in English opens the door to a more diverse and satisfying collection of educational and professional opportunities.”
However, with many schools closed due to the pandemic, studying English in a traditional in-person classroom setting may not be an option. Besides designing your own “curriculum” and learning from textbooks, there are a number of fun ways to improve your English skills from home in your free time.
Watch Television in English
As we discussed in a previous post, a fun way technical professionals can boost their English speaking skills—and their career prospects—as non-native speakers, is to watch English television and films. Research shows that watching non-native shows with subtitles can improve both listening and reading comprehension as well as vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation.
Listen to English Podcasts
Listening to English-speaking podcasts is another great way to learn the nuances of the language. What’s more, you don’t have to sit down and devote your full attention to them. You can listen while doing something else such as commuting to the office, eating breakfast, or cleaning your home.
Because there are thousands of free podcasts available in English, it won’t be hard to find one that interests you. In fact, there are a number of popular English engineering podcasts, including the IEEE Tech Talk Podcast, that will keep you abreast of your favorite technical interests while helping you get better at understanding English. You also don’t have to limit yourself to genres directly related to your career. Whether you enjoy news, sports, true crime, or history, pick a podcast that will keep you engaged.
Read Books in English
Although watching TV and listening to podcasts are great ways to improve English, they cannot help as much for reading comprehension as does written material. For that, you’ll need to start reading in English.
If you already have a favorite book in your native language, try reading an English translation. Because you’re already familiar with the material, you should be able to fill in the gaps where your English is lacking, thereby improving your understanding without needing to rely on translation sources as heavily.
Reading aloud to yourself will also help improve your speaking skills, since it will force you to listen to how you pronounce words. There are a number of apps, including Sound Pronunciation and Learn English Sounds Right, that can help. Type a word you don’t understand into one of these apps, and it will give you the correct pronunciation.
Listen to Audio Books
Like podcasts, another way to improve your English while multitasking is to listen to audio books. By listening to the audio version of a book you’ve already read with English narration, you will get further insight into the nuances of the spoken language.
Improve English Language Proficiency
Now available on IEEE Xplore and the IEEE Learning Network, IEEE English for Technical Professionals is an online learning program that uses real-life interactive scenarios to provide non-native speakers with a working knowledge of English techniques and vocabulary that are essential for today’s technical workplace. Designed to help learners master essential English skills, this mobile-friendly program is ideal for both working professionals, as well as students who are preparing to enter the field.
Connect with an IEEE Content Specialist today to learn more about this program and how to get access to it for your organization.
Interested in the program for yourself? Visit the IEEE Learning Network.
Roshni. (29 March 2020). How to improve English speaking skills at home during Covid-19 lockdown. India Today.
Fadelli, Ingrid. (20 March 2020). Is English Still the Universal Language of Electrical Engineering? All About Circuits.