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Media training for people who don’t have English as a first language
March 21, 2024

Media training for people who don’t have English as a first language 

Can you do Media Training for executives who don’t have English as a first language? It’s a question that we’re frequently asked. Being London based, but working around the world (and the UK, of course) we frequently find ourselves providing Media Training for people who are not native English speakers.

There are a number of things you have to think about here. All our media trainers who are, by the way, also working journalists have knowledge of foreign languages and many are fluent in them. This means that they know what it’s like to listen to, and then reply in a language that isn’t your own. This experience gives them a certain empathy for the senior executives, academics, businesspeople, and leaders of international organisations that we provide media training for who don’t have English as a first language.

Specifically, it means that our trainers know to speak a little bit more slowly and clearly. We’re not patronising anybody, but we’re just making the training more accessible. Participants in our workshops can focus on what we’re teaching them rather than trying to translate what we’re saying to them. We’re also aware of using English slang and idioms that might be instantly recognisable to a native English speaker but if you’re from any of the other countries that we work in such as France, Germany, Spain, and Italy, for instance, they can be more of a challenge. 

Media training for Lawyers and Architects

We provide media training for lawyers from these countries and media training for architects from around the world. We know how they like to be in control and focus on detail. This means that worrying about the language barrier is particularly challenging. 

We’re always very impressed with how many of the business leaders and others that we train can speak great English, but we are aware that that this can be a challenge for some. We know that they need to have their confidence developed too – they want to hear an assurance from us that they’ll be OK doing media interviews conducted in English. 

We actually point out that quite often British and US journalists like doing interviews with people who don’t have English as a first language as they tend to speak more slowly and think more carefully about the words they use. This makes it easier for the reporter. We also explain that if they don’t quite understand a question, they can always ask the journalist to repeat or rephrase it. We remind participants on our media training courses – you have rights, and you can be more in control of the process if you want to.

Media training in French for French speakers

We also provide Media Training in French for those French speakers who would prefer to do interviews in their own language. It’s interesting looking at how words and phrases that might work in English cannot be directly translated into French – or any other language – and there’s a need a little bit more thought and attention to the nuances.

Language aside, we’re also very aware of cultural differences. Because we provide media training for travel companies and media training for clothing companies, in other words businesses that have operations in the Far East and other parts of the world, we’re aware of language and cultural issues. This means that we understand that some cultures might be more direct in their communication and their feedback, while others are more diffident and polite. 

Cultural sensitivities on our media training courses

Working with Japanese and east Asian people on our Media Training courses we’re always aware that there are cultural sensitivities here that we need to be very much aware of when giving feedback after role-play media interviews and when we’re suggesting lines to take. As well as the language and the cultural differences of the participants were also very much aware that different media around the world work in different ways. Some are more, how shall we put it? Compliant and emollient while others can be aggressive and intrusive. Given our international reach, we can bring this perspective to bear when providing media training.

Media training for individuals whose first language is not English

If you have colleagues or clients who are concerned about doing media interviews in English when it isn’t their first language come and talk to us about our specialist media training courses.

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