Feedback from a native English-speaking PhD student.
I think the reasons I really enjoyed your class – despite speaking English as a first language and having had various training courses previously – were:
- the informal, engaging and interactive model;
- the very practical and example-led approach, rather than theoretical;
- the perspective of how non-native speakers learn and express English.
The parts which were of most use to me personally were about communicating to non-native speakers, and how difficult it is for them to understand the speech patterns and word choices of native speakers. You had some nice examples of false friends and other confusing elements which helped bring this to life. For PhDs who will be presenting at international conferences this is really useful.
The sessions on writing for academic papers were really useful, again with great examples to bring this to life. This is obviously be very important for the PhD students – particularly on the need for concision (something I still have a lot to work on!). Also, the very practical tips about writing (and speaking) e.g. have sentences of varying length to avoid monotony,
The exercises about showing empathy in emails and communication with others were useful. I have noticed when working with others in previous roles that many people really don’t get this right. This is particularly true for people new to the professional world, and not just for non-native speakers.
Regarding the presentations part, I found the following particularly useful
- The input on slide design. I’ve had various sessions on giving presentations before, which always almost exclusively focus on one’s speaking style and manner and not on the slides themselves. I am very aware of my weaknesses in public speaking, but much less clear on how the visual element can be most effectively delivered.
- The actual practice and feedback from the group – as a way to see how others do things and get ideas to improve one own style as much as for the feedback itself.
Kendall Jamieson Gilmore, PhD student, Scuola Sant’Anna Superiore, November 2018