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Sheffield: It were grand! Von Jeanette Mooney


1 week. 7 nationalities. 3 workshops. 3 NATIVES trainers. 

Language transfer is more than flipping open a textbook and picking a chapter or module, or taking a mosaic approach to putting together content that best suits participant needs. Transfer is creative: it happens when you’re not on, but off; happens in the thick of a learning burst; happens when you leave what you know; happens by way of exploration, iteration and retention. The process applies for trainer and participant alike. Below, we share some of our thoughts on what was an intensive week.

Jeanette: Matthew and Dale, what words best sum up the week for you both?

Dale: edifying, thorough and engaging

Matt: Probably challenging, educational and fantastic.

Jeanette: I’d say strategic, co-creative and disruptive. What about any lessons learned? Matt?

Matt: Actually, I learned just how difficult it is for people to get a foothold of a language with no previous knowledge especially those who speak a language very different to English. And I’d say that my highlight, my favourite moment though, was when my group took it upon themselves to give a mini-presentation to the other two groups at the end of the week – remember, they came in with zero skills! It was a complete surprise. It showed just how determined they were to demonstrate that they had learned something, and to show that they will give English a good shot in the future.

Dale: My lesson learned: Flag up the tools you use in workshops. Chances are the participants have heard of them and can identify with them, or their ears will prick up with curiosity. Take questions on how to use them and adapt them to context. That way, you don't just lead them to the fish, you teach them how to catch them. 

Jeanette: What about your highlight, Dale?

Dale: Facilitating the sharing of knowledge and expertise. Helping the participants not only say what they want with the right language, but also 'getting stuff done' at the same time. That's the highlight every day but in this week-long environment with people from various contexts and backgrounds, all with the same shared cause, it morphed into a whole new experience.

Jeanette: Agree with you there. Facilitating the process rather than top-down, fixed content work is what was needed. Employing strategies and design thinking tools, that evidenced aha moments for the participants when mapping out their business, was a real highlight. The week went far beyond language to include team building and team process reviews. This was my highlight – and Matt’s king pin victory of course! We all love a challenge, so what was yours, Dale?

Dale: Making a plan, carefully designing a sequence of activities then having to throw it out the window when you identify it's not the best course of action and then carving out the way with the participants and your trainer bag of tricks and tools. This was the first time I'd experienced it so extensively. Thinking on your feet like that is tough and requires intensive listening skills and confidence in your own ability to help the people in the room get from A to B.

Jeanette: Yes, absolutely. The entire week was about process over content – what I like to call: the collect, distil and reflect process. Matt, what challenges did you face and overcome?

Matt: It was quite a challenge teaching a group with no common language. I had to adapt my usual teaching style and the group was very receptive to the way I did things.

Jeanette: I liked how you included excursions and tasks to encourage initial inertia. It really worked for your group. Disrupting assumptions and getting everyone out of their comfort zones was good! Thank you both – I think we made a great team.

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