2

I work as a software engineer at an MNC. I found that while articulating a concept related to software or just giving an update to the team. I tend to use overly simplified words and occasionally use broken English. I have 2 years of experience yet I am not able to use technical jargon while speaking.

I find that this has reduced my credibility within the team. English isn't my native language. How can I improve myself to be better at talking technical topics with others?

New contributor
John Doe is a new contributor to this site. Take care in asking for clarification, commenting, and answering. Check out our Code of Conduct.
5
  • 2
    When I needed to learn English fast before my start at an international college (high-shool didn't teach much English in my home country) I used to watch English news-channels all the time and talked back at the anchor man. Sounds funny but that really helped me to improve my language skills fast. Maybe watching some technical Videos in English (that are related to your field) on youtube or similar and then summarizing the content in writing can help you.. – iLuvLogix May 4 at 10:57
  • Is your difficulty the lack of English technical terms, or lack of English vocabulary making it difficult for you to elaborate on more complex topics? – Laurent S. May 4 at 20:05
  • @LaurentS it's more about lacking technical terms while speaking. – John Doe May 4 at 21:02
  • 2
    I think you should emphasize that in your question cause the current answers seem to focus more on general English language level. Also could you provide more info on how experienced you are? Fresh out of school? 5 years experience? ...? I'm asking this because I'm trying to figure out why you would lack technical vocabulary when so many resources are in English and full of technical terms... – Laurent S. May 4 at 21:16
  • I have edited my question – John Doe May 4 at 21:29
7

This is common whenever you're communicating in a foreign language. It only gets better with practice. Learning phrases by heart and utilising them with minor modifications when you need to, rather than making something up as you go is usually the best way. Then the more you use a language whether it's technical or not, the more fluent you get. Vocabulary on it's own isn't too great if you get the sentence structure wrong.

At some point there comes a time when you begin to think in a language. It just takes off from there, but it's just practice that gets you there.

I work mostly in two languages, which are not related and have totally different sentence structures. I make a conscious mental shift depending which one I need to communicate in, so that I'm thinking in the requisite language rather than translating my thoughts over.

I have written manuals for different levels of users as well. The same process applies. The language I use for end users is quite different to the technical language I use for engineers.

For a start, just relax, work out what you're going to say before you say it. If you make a mistake, don't be discouraged, just smile and excuse yourself.

4
  • 2
    "At some point there comes a time when you begin to think in a language" ..or even dream in that language ;) – iLuvLogix May 4 at 10:53
  • 2
    +1: Practice is definitely the thing. A technique I might recommend for the OP is to find someone who is willing to help them practice specific things. While everyday practice is certainly going to be the most effective, with technical jargon there may not be enough consistent opportunities. OP might have to create some opportunities of their own. – Joel Etherton May 4 at 15:37
  • @JoelEtherton different methods work for different people. You don't really need opportunities or anyone to practice with. My methods are pretty mainstream and useful because they're immediately applicable. – Kilisi May 4 at 15:59
  • 2
    @Kilisi: My comment wasn't a disagreement with anything you said, it was just a supplement. – Joel Etherton May 4 at 17:58
1

Practice, practice, practice.

I recommend practicing (to yourself, either in your head, or even better, out loud to a mirror) giving short technical "presentations".

There are two forms this can take. The first is to work, generally, on your ability to communicate technical topics. For this, find a short, but interesting, technical paragraph (from a book or a blog, etc.), related to a concept you know pretty well, and practice giving a two sentence summary "presentation". Try and figure out how you can convey the important stuff, as simply and cleanly as possible.

The second form is to also use this technique to prepare for something you might actually need to present in a work context. If you know you will be required to give an update tomorrow, spend a few minutes thinking of exactly what you want to say, and then practice giving that update. Run through a few iterations, changing the order you present things, improving precision, but reducing complexity, etc.

I'm a native English speaker (and work in English) and I still do this all the time. If I'm scheduled to meet with my boss, I'll practice a few important sentences I know I want to say. If I anticipate a few questions, I'll practice the answers.

The purpose of this exercise isn't to memorize specific sentences (as that really isn't useful for a conversation), but to get a good feel on how much information you can pack into a sentence, how to make sure the important parts aren't buried, how to make sure your thoughts are correctly conveyed.

1
  • Sentence structure is what's needed, else you get 'broken English'... which is what the OP has mentioned. Doesn't matter how much you pack into a sentence if the sentence doesn't make sense in English. – Kilisi May 4 at 17:41

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .