Back in 2004 and fresh out of college, I was only supposed to come to China for a year to improve my Chinese and then return to the US. Flash forward to 2013 (that’s 9 years folks) and I’m still living in China, married to a Beijing native (who came with a motley crew of relatives with good intentions and very limited English) and pursuing a career in English Training – one correction at a time.
As the English Training Manager at Objectiva Software Solutions, improving our skilled engineers’ communication skills is our English Training Department’s goal each and every day. As we all know, when dealing with another culture and language, barriers and miscommunication are bound to happen; both in and out of the workplace. The trick is identifying where things get muddled up and straightening them out sooner rather than later. Oh, and keeping a positive attitude, having mounds of patience and laughing a lot helps a great deal too.
One common miscommunication culprit is found in similar sounding English words. Personally, I cannot walk by an escalator to this day without smiling, because a few years back I was temporarily petrified when my husband exclaimed, “Watch out for the alligator!” He of course meant to say “escalator”, but somehow only remembered their similar word endings. We indeed had a good chuckle that day and needless to say, he has never confused the two again. I, however, continue to confuse “eggplant (qiezi)” and “shoes (xiezi)” in Chinese much to his dismay.
In the office, we encounter similar cases of “mistaken identity” or word confusion. Our trainers in Beijing and Xi’an always keep a watchful eye out for commonly confused words to address in training. Unfortunately, in the past, we could only address and correct the trainees in training; we needed a way to reach the entire company. Luckily for our English Training Department, we work in Objectiva Software Solutions, a company that strives to improve its people’s communication skills and an innovator in resolving issues and meeting needs. Through a joint effort with an in-house team of engineers, the Daily English Byte app was quickly born.
This nifty app (available for download on your Apple, Android and Windows devices) enabled our English Training Department to send Daily English Bytes to correct common mistakes and improve our company’s communication one “byte” at a time through internal company-wide emails and blog publishing. Never one to stop at the minimum requirement, Objectiva brought our Daily English Byte beyond an internal platform – they made it a worldwide app for professionals to improve their English communication.
For over a year now, our English Training Department has been publishing “bytes” that cover a wide range of topics pertinent to English in the workplace. Effective Communication, Punctuation, Grammar, and Email Etiquette are just a few of the many topics we address. Communication has steadily continued to improve within Objectiva, just as the number of worldwide downloads has grown.
With the Daily English Byte app, we have found a smart way to help not only our own professionals, but a worldwide audience of professionals using English in the workplace to identify, overcome and avoid communication barriers. Barriers that include cases of “mistaken identity” like the commonly confused words “image” and “imagine” – one “byte” at a time.