• More confident employees
  • Clearer talks, meetings, and presentations
  • More concise and compelling reports
  • More successful sales calls

The profiles below, composites of people I have taught, show some of the different ways a private English teacher can boost an employee’s abilities and bring value to the company.

• Gilberto, a Brazilian diplomat, needed to give a 30-minute talk, in English, to a group of international affairs graduate students interested in his area of the United Nations. For three weeks we worked on the talk: first writing the 30-minute talk together, later adding supplementary PowerPoint slide captions. The final step was focused on his oral delivery — not just how to pronounce certain words, but how to use American English intonation to be better understood. And to speak slowly! Gilberto also practiced saying the speech with just a few notes, not reading from the full text, so it sounded more natural. By the time of the event, he was ready and polished.

• Feng is a Chinese detaché who works in algorithmic trading at an investment bank in New York. He needed to communicate better at work, where collaboration, strategy-setting, understanding new trading tools and constant interaction are all part of the job. In addition, he wanted to be able to run a meeting whenever the moment came. To begin, he and I focused on financially-based conversations, while we also worked on correct word order, idioms, intonation, and easier ways to say complicated ideas. In time, he was put in charge of running an onsite and video meeting; with a few days to prepare, he and I practiced by using all the techniques we had been doing, plus practicing speaking to a group. The result — a strong delivery and a positive response from his colleagues.

• Françoise, the French HR head of an international luxury brand, came to New York with just a beginner level of English and had trouble talking with anyone on her English-only staff. Meetings were difficult and conversation was mainly one-word greetings. Our classes included grammar lessons, vocabulary, popular songs to help with pronunciation and comprehension, and simple talks. Over time, the news articles she and I could read and discuss became longer, and her ability to converse blossomed. The whole office noticed the improvement too, because Françoise was gradually able to take part in discussions, lead meetings, and even laugh at office jokes. She was friendlier, more confident — and more effective.

In short, companies and individuals who invest in their English proficiency can see many unexpected returns.