Ten DOs and DON´Ts for Workplace Visits In-Company

DO

1) Show an interest in what you´re being shown. Much of the successful relationship-building you´ve done with the participants by initiating and going on a workplace visit with them will be wasted, if they think their work bores you.

2) Be aware of the workplace dynamics going on in the workplaces you visit and where your participants fit into them. They could be the boss of the employees you see as you´re walking around, in which case they´ll want to appear completely in control of the situation, or one of those employees could equally be their boss, in which case they may be keen to impress him or her.

3) Encourage the participants to be tactile and pick up their products and show you how they work (where this is appropriate and not prohibited, of course). The participants usually want to do this anyway and it tends to make the experience more memorable for them.

4)  Assume the role of an educated and curious “visitor” to the industry which your participants work in. You´re intelligent, of course, but you most likely don´t have the same level of specific industry or product knowledge that your participants do—you can use this to your advantage though, and encourage the participants to explain what is going on in and how things work in as much detail as possible. In my experience, participants enjoy the feeling of being in the driving seat and making the temporary transition from learner to teacher.

5) Get maximum value out of the visit by preparing the learners for it, e.g. by working on vocabulary specific to their workplaces and on language for giving a tour and explaining how things work prior to the visit, and also debrief them on it afterwards. Give them language feedback, encourage them to reflect on their performance and, together with them, identify areas that they need to work on in order to improve their ability to present their workplace in English—this might be: more industry-specific vocabulary or introducing more variety in the range of verbs they use to describe processes, rather than just using “bring” or “go” all the time.

DON´T

6) Expect participants to be able to comfortably give you an explanation of how a process works if you´re standing in a spot where noise levels are high, or expect the other participants to be able to hear what they have to say, for that matter.

7) Assume that the participants will be taking notes on everything that´s going on and recording all the new vocabulary which is being activated. A better strategy is to assign note-taking or vocab. recording on one particular machine, process or area to each participant and concentrate on doing the bulk of the note-taking for the purposes of language feedback and vocabulary collection yourself. A clipboard or folder to lean on and some kind of shorthand, which you´ll later be able to make sense of later on, are a great help here.

8) Only do workplace visits near the start of a new course or while you´re new to the group. Why not continue to do them at regular intervals—not every week, but certainly every few months—so that the connection between the English course and their workplace remains present in their minds

9) Forget to clear your visit with other people in the company, where this is necessary of course. You, as a teacher, may need special authorisation to enter certain parts of the company or the visit may have to be agreed to by a supervisor or the responsible person from the HR department—you don´t want to get yourself, and potentially your participants, into hot water by not playing by the company rules.

10) Leave any of the participants out. Make sure that if your participants come from different departments or work in different areas of the factory, they all get the chance to give the group a tour of their workplace at some point. They will then all have a sense of being involved in the process and will not merely be passively, but also actively involved in it.

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3 Comments

Filed under From the training room

3 responses to “Ten DOs and DON´Ts for Workplace Visits In-Company

  1. Hi Claire,

    Excellent tips! Will be putting them into practice tomorrow morning as I have a company tour planned for one group. I’ve also been thinking about how to include others who are on the tour, but don’t necessarily work on site e.g. office workers who are located in a different part of the building – perhaps 2-3 kms away and there’s only time to see one place. Maybe giving them a task such as ‘report back to the group on 1 or 2 new things you learnt’ – then they also have a clear focus during the tour. Keeps the active listening skills alive and they benefit from gaining some new knowledge! I’ve also just been reading the latest news from the company website and connected media releases e.g. newspaper articles – then I can comment and ask their opinions on the up-to-date news in their industry – thanks again!

    Regards,
    Marise

    • Hi Marise,
      You´re very welcome. I appreciate the ideas exchange. Hope your company tour went well today. I think giving the others who don´t necessarily work on site the task of reporting back on what they´ve learnt is a great idea–encourage them to ask questions and be curious. There must be some links between what they´re seeing on the tour and the work that they do, even if it´s not immediately obvious to them.
      I think reading up on current developments in the company is a great idea too–it shows that you´re interested in what they´re doing and can help you get into some interesting discussions with them on these topics, which they will most likely enjoy and which will get them activating lots of relevant job-/company-/ industry-based vocabulary.
      Best wishes,
      Claire

  2. Bonnie Tsai

    You know that so much comes through on people’s blogs and sites but this is amazing!. There is so much to be learned from and worked on with the little boy and his “invention.” Thank you so much for sharing this!!!

    Bonnie

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