When athletes prepare for a race they always do a set of warm up exercises, warming up their muscles and doing lots of stretches. Why? Two reasons. To make sure they don’t injure themselves when racing and most importantly to make sure their body is totally ready to perform at its very best.
Does this apply to language as well?
I think so. Many of my overseas clients can take 10-15 minutes before their English is at its best. Why is this?
It is very simple. You are speaking in your native language all day and then suddenly you have to change into a new language for an interview. It takes time for your brain to make this switch. Just like an athlete, it takes time to warm up. So you need to give yourself time to turn off your native language and turn on your English!
There is some debate within the scientific community about this process. However what is clear from my experience is that when switching into English you need to allow anything from a couple of minutes to 15 minutes or more.
Indeed the standard Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) methodology as taught by Cambridge University is that English language lessons need warm-ups to get the students engaged in the topic and the language. TEFL teachers are very strict when students use their native language in lessons, as this ‘turns off’ their English.
Is this relevant to interviews?
ABSOLUTELY! If you are going to do an interview in English you need to switch into English at least 30 minutes before doing the interview. This is particularly important if you are doing a skype/phone interview from outside the UK. How can you do this? Well here are my tips :-
- Talk to someone in English. Ideally this should be someone who is a native or advanced English speaker.
- Rehearse your answers in English. Practice answers to interview questions out loud. Yes it may seem strange to your friends & family that you are talking to yourself in English but by engaging the vocal part of your brain (the Temporal lobe) you are warming up your English. If you feel really embarrassed put on your phone’s headset and pretend you are making a phone call.
- Listen to something in English. If you can’t talk to someone then listening is a good alternative. At the end of this entry I have listed some places where you can listen to English.
So in summary, turn off your native language, turn on your English and get your dream job!
If you have any questions on this or indeed any other question, then please don’t hesitate in emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org I look forward to hearing from you.
Listen to over 100,000 radio stations live and for free. tunein is available on PC, IOS, iPhone/iPad and android devices. This is one of my favourite apps (yes even more than Angry Birds and Candy Crush).
Here are 3 stations I recommend to help you turn on your English. All of these are available via tunein and also have their own websites :-
UK talk radio covering current affairs, economics, arts, culture and comedy. Usually very clear pronunciation although the language can be complex at times.
Local talk radio for the Big Apple. Perfect if you have an interview with an American or American company.
BBC Radio London
Local talk radio for London. Listeners ring in with opinions and so this is a very good station to hear natural English as spoken by Londoners.