We launched this “On the Job” series to find out how people use English in their working lives. We talk to them about jargon in their profession, writing on the job and what advice they’d give to learners of English.



Who do you work for?

I wear two hats currently. I’m a self-employed career coach, and from September I will be working for a primary school as a trainee teacher, as part of an accelerated headship programme.

How important is being able to speak or write good English in your job?

In coaching, you need to listen carefully for the words a client uses, and reflect their language back to them in order to build a good rapport. This sounds artificial but it happens very naturally.

As models for their pupils, teachers obviously need to be able to speak and write accurately and also creatively. Over the last couple of decades, educators in the UK have placed increasing emphasis on self-expression. Whilst welcoming this, I believe it’s time for the pendulum to swing back a little. Poor spelling or grammar places a barrier between your message – however creatively crafted  – and the reader.

Does your field have its own particular jargon? Could you share some of the more unusual terms with us?

Oh yes! Teachers seem to love acronyms. For example as a governor for a local primary school, I chair the School Improvement Committee, which is abbreviated, rather off-puttingly, to SIC.

Do you ever ask another person to proofread your work?

I don’t, but for an important piece of work that’s a good idea. I do use spell check but I don’t always find it that helpful because it can highlight correct spelling as incorrect, when for example I’ve used English spelling instead of American.

What mistakes or phrases in English do you find most annoying? Why?

Don’t get me started! Apostrophes in a plural: the girl’s went to the beach. Excessive use of exclamation marks or (any ) use of emoticons –  particularly by anyone over the age of 30.

Would you like to add anything you think our readers would find interesting?

Watch old black and white films. The language and diction are often so much more varied, subtle and charming than in films today.

Want to hear what some of the other interviewees said?  Head over to the On the Job series home page here.