Last night I heard of production English for the first time and am quite fascinated with it.
When many people arrive in Australia, they learn English to be able to communicate with other people who live here. English classes teach them things like ‘hello, how are you?’, ‘can I please buy…?’ and ‘where is the library?’
And there’s nothing wrong with that.
I assume the same thing happens for most people who move to a country with a language different to their own.
The challenge really starts when people need more specific language – the words and phrases you don’t get in beginner classes.
For instance, trying to follow a procedure or read instructions on machinery can be quite difficult if you only have basic English.
Especially once you consider grammar and similar words (that is, homonyms and other potentially confusing words that I define in Monday Meanings) can make it even harder to understand – just like pilots can have trouble if English is not their native tongue.
The story I heard last night was about a group of people who work well at their jobs but are sometimes limited or put at risk by the fact that they don’t have ‘production English’ to help them at work.
Obviously, ensuring that procedures and instructions are written as simply and clearly as possible is one aspect – and still a very important task.
Yet it is also critical to help such people learn relevant words in English. And there are programs in Melbourne now that are working on solving this issue, at least for some groups of immigrants.
Does your business have procedures or instructions that would be challenging for someone with only basic English?
* Image courtesy of 123RF