Advertisements
Advertisements

Tutoring with Cambly: A fun way to increase your cultural competency


Evelina Silveira

It happened one night when I was fully awake, lying in bed and thinking of a fun job I could do at home.  I wanted it to be something that would complement the work I do in my business.  Generally, when I decided to take on part-time or temporary work, I do it to enhance my skills and knowledge for my training business, Diversity at Work.

I “Googled”  teaching English online without an  ESL certificate and came across, Cambly.  I had looked at other sites before and read their reviews, but I was not interested in having a job that would take a lot of preparation or had a pre-determined schedule.  I needed flexibility to  work on my business.

I completed the quick application form and sent them a video. Within about 10 days I was working.

Cambly is an app which helps English as a Second Language Speakers to practice their conversation skills and learn grammar with tutors from around the world. They choose the number of minutes they want to speak each week and the tutor(s) they want to work with.

Most of the students are from Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Japan, China and Taiwan.  The app is picking up popularity and users from other countries are emerging now as well.  Because I specialize in business English with intermediate and advanced speakers, my students tend to be professionals.  When you complete your profile with Cambly you can specify your areas of interest.  Do you want to work with beginners? Advanced speakers?  Do you want to teach listening skills? Grammar? Students will read your profile and determine whether you are the right fight for them.  If you are, they will click on your profile when you are online and choose you for a lesson.

I was a little nervous on my first call as I had not really figured out the app that well, by this time.  I still remember the first call. It was a man sitting on a carpet wearing traditional Gulf-style clothing; the white long chemise and pants along with the red scarf draping his head.  He was sipping coffee that his servants had brought him.

Since then, I have had over 1000 chats. I have met professors, doctors, tons of IT professionals, teachers, students and retirees. Sometimes, students are calling me from their cars, they are walking, in the middle of a family gathering; or they might be drunk getting out of a bar on a Saturday night!  I laugh all of the time with my students. For nervous students, this helps them relax and they re-book with me because I make learning fun.

At first, I thought I would just do a few hours a week in the evening or on the weekend.  But, before I knew it, the time I had used to  devote to unwinding with surfing social media or watching re-runs of  Grey’s Anatomy was now being taken over by working for Cambly.  Why?  Because it is enjoyable and I have extremely intelligent students who I enjoy interacting. My thirst for learning about other cultures, engaging in political/social  discussions combined with my fascination with linguistics, made this the JOB FOR ME!

You see, most of the time it doesn’t feel like work at all.

Is Cambly for you?

· You need to be a native English speaker.

· You must like to talk and meet people.

· You need to be able to make conversation with people of all different language levels.  (They do offer you conversation starters, if you are stuck).

· You must be happy and smiling in all of your interactions with students. Remember, many students are nervous about speaking. They have learned grammar in school but have not had a chance to practice.  A smiling facing and gentle encouragement contributes to them opening up with you.

· A  computer with a high-speed internet connection, camera and microphone are essential.

· You must be punctual for the sessions you sign up. Repeated tardiness could mean you will be penalized for a few days unable to access more teaching opportunities.

. A neat appearance and clean background free from distractions.

· Remember, you are teaching students English.  If your speaking skills are on the sloppy side or your grammar is not the best, this might not be the best job for you.

What I have learned:

· How English is now spoken all across the world and is the dominant language of business.  EVERYONE is learning English.  I have had anyone from a doctor to a clerk at Dunkin’ Donuts use Cambly.

· Having English speaking skills is considered an global asset competing for jobs.

· Multinational companies have opened up EVERYWHERE and locals are often expected to learn English to speak with counterparts in other countries.

· How the quality of public education varies from country to country.  For example, in Saudi Arabia all education is free but the public education in Brazil is considered inferior.

· In the Gulf States, labour and trades are done mostly by migrants from Asia and Africa.  Wages are determined by nationality.  Working with your hands in these countries is considered work for people of lower status.

· Students have unreal expectations when it comes to Canada.

· Most people do not know much about Canada and what they are unaware of our recent political problems.

· Students who consider immigrating usually want to go to Germany, England, Australia, United States or Canada.

· How difficult it is to learn English because it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

· The role of a tutor/teacher is highly valued in other cultures.  Students will often refer to me as “Teacher” or “My Teacher”.  Their appreciation for the new grammar, vocabulary or sound I have helped them make is extremely rewarding.

· I have improved my listening skills.

· I have increased my knowledge of linguistic features of many languages.

· I can decipher the messages communicated by a speaker of any language

· About human rights in different countries; how some disenfranchised groups are struggling to be recognized while other countries care very little about them.

· How countries around the world are struggling with fake news, political corruption, censorship of the media and seemingly unaware of what is often happening in their own countries.

The downside:

· The pay is not the best.  If you are relying on it for main source of income, that will be challenging. You get paid by the number of minutes you speak.  If you are doing it for the same reasons I am, the pay is a bonus.  I would likely do this even if I wasn’t getting paid.

· Sometimes, the platform doesn’t work or there can be a lot of technical difficulties based on poor internet connections in other countries.

· The students taking the free trial can be impolite.  There may be a lot of hangups, or they might stare at you like you’re an oddity.  In three cases I have had to hang up and report students on a trial because they were exhibitionists or crude. But, this doesn’t happen too often.  Three vulgar calls in 1000 is not so bad.

· You may be penalized if you have to cancel the schedule you have signed up for if you do so with less than 12 hours notice.

All, in all, I think Cambly is a fabulous app for people wanting to practice their English conversation skills but also a fine casual or part-time job for those who want to work a few extra hours.

If you want to learn more about Cambly

You can tell them that I referred you and use my code:  https://www.cambly.com/en/tutors?referralCode=eva533

 

Advertisements

Great Customer Service Begins with Knowing How to Work with Language Barriers


coverEvelina Silveira, President, Diversity at Work

Customer service is about communication. A fruitful experience will result in both customer and agent satisfaction. Customer service training implies both the agent and the customer comprehend English, but that is not always the case.

According to Statistics Canada 2016, 2% of the Canadian population cannot speak English or French. The percentage is likely to soar, especially with recent news of mass migration and immigration proposed by the federal government.

Conditional on where you live, or the service you may provide, the percentage of people who lack English proficiency skills may be more substantial. Consider if you are a non-profit agency which delivers employment services to newcomers, or a store located in the heart of an ethnic community? All of these variations may result in a greater need for competencies in working with customer and clients who have language barriers.

While the encounter will be more challenging, it is not unmanageable. You can still provide courteous, attentive and results-oriented customer service. “Going-the-extra-mile” can contribute to customer loyalty; increased brand identification within a community; word-of-mouth advertising; but most of all, the satisfaction of providing them with what they want.

The various strategies and tips we will explore in this issue can be easily adapted to serving customers with learning and cognitive delays. Why? Patience, clear communication, and a willingness to “think-out-side-the-box” are requirements for reaching people with barriers.

In this issue of  Your Diverse Customer Training Ezine, you will learn how to communicate with people who have language barriers.

The contents of this issue include:

  • how to tell the difference between a strong accent and a language barrier
  • guide to reading letters and numbers over the telephone
  • common idioms to avoid
  • 8 Rules for Better Understanding
  • How to Make Your Communication Clearer
  • Case Study
  • Links to Training Resources

 

Purchase your Pdf version here:

Your Diverse Customer -Serving Customers With Language Barriers

$20.00

Meetings: A Tool Kit – New Immigrant Workplace Success Series


Evelina Silveira, President, Diversity at Work, London, Canada

meetingpromo

I am pleased to announce the release of my first tool in a series of resources to assist employers develop and retain new immigrant employees.  The  step=by-step exercises and processes will enhance your own coaching skills while empowering employees with vital information in a culturally relevant way.  I am sharing some of my coaching secrets and style which has resulted in many new immigrants enhancing their skills and employers retaining talent.

You can preview the toolkit below.  It is 31 pages in length and offers a 20-minute consultation with each purchase.  Buy it today and, begin having more productive meetings by developing your own and your employee’s  skills.  Feedback has been excellent!

Includes several handouts such as business idioms; checklist for inclusive meetings; coaching pre-assessments, low-risk no-stress ways to participate in meetings and more.

https://diversityatworkinlondon.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/meetingspage1.pdf

https://diversityatworkinlondon.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/secondpage.pdf

Meetings: A Toolkit Ebook

A 31-page toolkit which includes a 20 minute telephone consultation for each book sold.

C$225.00

911 Call Taker Training


callerrevDo you currently work as a call taker?  Have you noticed the increase from callers who have low-English levels of proficiency? Chances are you have, as our research shows that call takers are receiving a larger call volume from this demographic.  The bad news?  You probably have never received any specific tips besides speak slowly and clearly.

This is when Diversity at Work’s training comes to the rescue.

You will learn everything on the flyer and much more.

We are pleased to report that participant evaluations consistently indicate that they feel their performance will improve as a result of taking this workshop.  The good part?  Even call takers with over 30 years of experience felt that way, too.

Call us today! We travel. Customization is available on request.

Reduce caller and call taker stress, triage calls effectively and provide a more equitable service.

To learn more about our business and the trainer, Evelina Silveira, please visit http://www.yourdiversityatwork.com.

 

London’s Poor Diversity Score No Surprise


Written by: Evelina Silveira, President Diversity at Work

As featured in New Canadian Media
Thursday, 27 October 2016 

A recent study published by the Western University’s Centre for Research on Migration and Ethnic Relations found a severe lack of visible minorities in leadership roles in organizations in London, Ontario. 

While the study made headlines, the findings came as no surprise to me.  I have lived in London all my life, working as a diversity consultant for 10 years. I would like to offer an explanation as to why inroads have not been made in visible minority leadership in  London, Ontario.

Flashback to about 13 years ago, when I started to work on a business plan for Diversity at Work: I interviewed many leaders in London asking them whether my idea of having a business which promoted hiring and supporting diverse candidates would ever fly?

I will never forget the answer I received from a human resources consultant who had previously held many jobs in the recruitment and leadership fields.  She said:  “Evelina, as long as there are enough white people to fill the jobs, no one will ever consider anyone else, because they don’t have to.”

Essentially, she conveyed that there really was no need to change the recruitment process and that it was too much work to do so.

A late joiner

In comparison to other cities, London has lagged behind. Perhaps it is because the jobs could easily be filled as the human resources consultant suggested, or maybe we ignore the ever-growing presence of visible minorities which started in the mid-1980’s. 

Some of our largest employers and institutions have only recently developed diversity policies, later than their counterparts in other comparable cities which have a high number of visible minorities and immigrants. I often scan the diversity plans of the public service organizations in London and it would appear that the effort or the kind of approach being used – if at all – are not producing  much in terms of achieving a representative workforce, let alone diversity in leadership. 

My observations are consistent with the findings which indicate a very low level of visible minority participation, notably 5.3 per cent on agencies, boards, and commissions.  Their lack of participation at these levels can have ramifications for how services are delivered, in addition to resource allocation. 

Furthermore, there is a tendency, especially with boards, to recruit people they know, often friends and co-workers, to fill vacancies.  This can perpetuate the lack of representation and the effort to create more diversified boards and committees.

It is startling how many workplaces have not implemented the strategies and best practices that can help mitigate these gaps. How might we explain the disconnect? There is a multitude of reasons why this occurs and this is key to understanding the problem of under-representation in London’s publicly-funded organizations.

Consider these possibilities:

·         Foreign credentials and work experience are not recognized. Generally speaking, if an applicant has not graduated from a leadership program in North America or the U.K , there is a good chance their education in leadership may not be recognized.  Leadership experience from other  parts of the world may not be taken into consideration for a host of reasons, including cultural differences in how we do business and interact with employees.  

·         Effective leadership requires highly developed communication skills:  in person, in writing and over the phone.  An internationally-trained applicant is disadvantaged if they have a pronounced accent and have an indirect style of communication.  Interviewer bias can hamper heavily-accented applicants, who may be mistaken as unqualified because they speak differently.  Across cultures, there are variations in how we conduct meetings, presentations and write reports. The Canadian standards are often learned in school or through work experience.

At civic level: zero

The number of visible minorities and immigrant leaders in municipal organizations is at a glaring zero per cent! 

Given that government organizations are held to a higher standard than the private sector to have a reflective workforce, as well as to meet Employment Equity standards, this represents a failure of implementation and consequently lost opportunities for diversifying the workforce and gaining new skills and perspectives. 

With increasing job insecurity, good benefits and salaries, public service employees are not likely to leave their jobs.  Understandably, this represents fewer opportunities for external applicants to get hired. 

It would be interesting to know if the City of London has an internal mentoring program to assist aspiring leaders.  Research consistently indicates that visible minorities and immigrants find a lack of mentors in the workplace. 

Successful leaders often attest to the significance of mentors throughout their careers.  There have been some attempts over the last few years to develop internships for immigrant professionals at the City of London. However, it is hard to know if this experience translated into permanent employment with the City.

Finally, we cannot overlook bias and racism in the recruitment and selection process, although it does not probably explain the huge disconnect between the population and their representation in the workforce. In my experience, if the leadership in an organization is not familiar with the business benefits of a diverse workforce, they are very unlikely to support and initiate programs which can facilitate the entry and promotion of visible minorities within their organizations.

Evelina Silveira is the President of Diversity at Work in London, a three-time award -winning firm which specializes in creating inclusive workplaces and diverse customer bases.  She has co-authored two globally acclaimed books and is the publisher of the Inclusion Quarterly.

What the Brits’ Telly Can Teach Us About Diversity Dialogues


tv

Evelina Silveira,  President, Diversity at Work

When you think about British television, what comes to mind?  Well, if you are not British most of us would probably say Coronation Street  because it has been around forever on Canadian televisions. But there is so much more to discover!  Deciding to join the cable cutting crowd, I have opted for YouTube instead, for my nightly viewing. And British TV is it!

I have been so impressed with the wide range of British television programs devoted to social experiments in the form of reality TV.  To their credit, it appears the Brits are sincerely trying to understand “the other” through their programs of cultural exchanges of various sorts.  They’re not your regular run-of-the-mill low budget reality programs but thoughtful, out-of-the-box productions that are not afraid to ask the tough questions.

Why do I find the programs to be so remarkable?  Because the participants in the social experiments get a chance to “walk in the other person’s shoes” and freely ask questions without being afraid of a label of “homophobe”, “racist”, “islamaphone” “xenophobe” etc.  You get to see the good, the bad and the ugly.  Nothing is held back and I like that.  At least, when everyone has their preconceptions on the table you have something to work with instead being terminally superficial and polite.

What I began to notice in British television was delightfully refreshing.  The Brits actually engage others in a conversation about diversity.   I don’t see that happening in Canadian television.  All  we ever see is one side of a story and you either accept it or you don’t.  There is rarely an opportunity for two groups to come together and learn about one another and gain sensitivity, empathy and insight into the other group’s world.  The Brits seem to love programs devoted to “social experiments” and I have to tell you as a lover of sociology and anthropology — these types of programs score high for me.

It must have been a television genius who came up with the subject matter.  I have watched at least one  episode with the following themes:

  • A small group of Brits who have to live like a Muslim for a designated period of time.
  • Six men from a variety of backgrounds and lifestyles who go to live in a Benedictine monastery and must follow their rules
  • Nasty British teenagers who are sent to live with an American Amish family to help them reform their ways
  • Bad behaving British teenagers who are sent to live with another family in a foreign country which is known to be “very strict”
  • Several English citizens who feel they have been negatively impacted by immigration are matched with immigrants to challenge some of their assumptions

What so good about these experiments? What do participants often learn from the experience?

  • There is greater understanding that can come from honest and often challenging conversations. You might either become stronger in your conviction or  more empathetic to the other’s experience.
  • There is value and meaning in learning about other people’s rituals even if they seem far off.
  • We can be enriched by others’ experiences and might find adopting aspects of their lives to our own.
  • Having your assumptions challenged is not a bad thing and it contributes to your own personal growth.  You can also help others grow by letting them express their biases/stereotypes and prejudices and work with them.
  • You can’t live in a liberal democracy without expecting to be offended occasionally: a price of freedom of expression.

For example, in the BBC documentary a young British-born  worker is matched to a Polish immigrant who owns his own construction business.  The young man contends foreigners are taking all of the jobs.  He gets to meet Mariuscz  a business owner and notices that his whole shop is full of only Polish workers which fuels his negative perception.   However, when he has a conversation with Mariuscz he realizes that these workers have a starting wage which is much lower than he would accept.  Mariuscz says he started at a low salary and worked his way up in a shop and finally decided to open his own business.  Mariuscz however is challenged to see that hiring only Polish workers is discriminatory and that he could benefit from English-speaking employees.  He is open to accepting this criticism and comes to see that his workers would learn English if there was someone around who would be prepared to speak it.  The result of this dialogue?  I would say a win-win for both participants.  Each was open to hearing the other’s point of view and challenge their own thinking.

British television shows me how much we Canadians have in common  However, I would have to say a few programs that I watched momentarily would never survive in Canada.  They are just too mean! Programs like Fat Families and Life on the DoleLife on the Dole  does not seem balanced at all.  Most of the cast consists of drug addicts, people who don’t want to work and ex-cons.  We don’t see many examples of the working poor.  If the purpose of Life on the Dole  is to make working people angry about the poor, than it succeeds in that regard.  If this program was filmed in Canada the slant would be different.  It would be aired to bring about empathy and awareness of the poor and set in a more compassionate light and with less of a classist tone.

All in all, British television rocks!  I need to run —-  Wife Swap UK is on!

 

 

How I Increased My Portuguese Fluency by Watching a Soap Opera


By:  Evelina Silveira, President Diversity at Work in London Inc.

It’s 9:00 pm and I have given up my regular date with Peter Mansbridge on the National News preferring to watch the Belmonte family:  Jose, Carlos, Lucas, Joao and Pedro navigate their business deals in the beautiful town of Estremoz, Portugal.  The Belmonte’s came into my life quite by chance one day when I was flipping channels, just wanting to relax.  Alas!  I heard a familiar language spoken on the television –Portuguese.  This was my first language that I have lost due to lack of practice.

Out of curiousity, and out of a deep appreciation for the visually appealing men I saw on the screen, I decided to give it a few minutes of my time.  Before long, I was fully engaged and not superficially either.  It became an intellectual exercise where I challenged myself to understand, by linking linguistic similarities to English.  When I started watching Belmonte about two months ago, I only understood about 60% of what I was hearing.

I have never studied Portuguese formally.  However, I had some exposure in my family of Portuguese immigrants. I decided some time ago that I wanted to learn it better but I am not someone who enjoys taking classes or listening to tapes.  I want it to be fun and not a lot of extra work.  Voila!  Belmonte to the rescue!

Sixty days later of watching 5 hours a week, I understand about 98% of what I am hearing and my vocabulary has expanded exponentially!  This isn’t your average run of the-mill American-style soap opera peppered with affairs botoxed beauties and beaus all living in their massive homes.  Albeit, the Belmonte’s do own a vineyard, a marble quarry, an olive oil business and a park, but not everyone in Estremoz is rich or perfect.

So what have I learned from this captivating, suspenseful, picturesque, award-winning soap opera?  A whole lot such as:

  • Some business vocabulary.
  • Slang expressions.
  • Many similar idioms like:  “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones”.
  • Vocabulary related to criminal investigations as one of the major plots has to do with “ o trafico de mulheres” or trafficking of women.
  • How Latin based words like “horrible”, “impossible” “incredible” etc are very similar to the Portuguese words but the “b” gets dropped for a “v”.
  • If you listen carefully many of the verbs have a Latin base and you can easily figure out what they are trying to say.
  • Portuguese is a very formal language and there are higher standards for politeness and respect for hierarchy and status.  Even the Police Sergeant uses formal titles to address suspects.  And when the characters are exchanging insults they still manage to add an:  “Desculpa”  (Sorry)  or “Boa Tarde’  (Good Afternoon)  Imagine that!
  • There are a lot of English words that have become part of the Portuguese lexicon.  For example in business:  “off-shore”; “dealer” (as in drug dealer); “okay”; “strippers” etc.

Besides increasing my vocabulary and comprehension, Belmonte has also given me a greater understanding of contemporary Portuguese issues.  For example, there are many references to how a few of the characters have lost their faith in God and don’t go to church anymore. Portugal has for centuries been one of the bastions of the Catholic faith and now it appears that even that is dying.  Poor Padre Arturo (Father Arthur) himself has decided to give up his vocation after his Italian son got killed in a motorcycle accident and the Bishop wouldn’t let him attend his funeral.  Padre Arturo is no longer counselling his parishioners about holding onto their faith but vice versa.

Then there is the issue of violence against women.  One of the plots has to do with the trafficking of women by a group of English and German investors who engage some of the business men in Estremoz in their dealings.  The show appears to want to highlight the epidemic of human trafficking in Europe but also the different aspects of violence against women.  In Sargento Susanna’s headquarters there are posters which focus on psychological abuse as a form of domestic violence.  You wouldn’t expect a poster like this in a police sergeant’s office but the producers are obviously trying to use these opportunities to disseminate important information.

On a less serious note you see how much the Portuguese love their food.  I swear Sofia Belmonte spends half of her life in front of the dining room table.  I don’t think I have ever seen so much eating in a television production outside the Food Channel!  The Portuguese use food as a cure for many ailments as you see in Belmonte. A chamomile tea is given at bed time for a sore tummy and to calm the nerves.  Victims are encouraged to eat after a trauma to gain their strength.  Sonia eats in the middle of the night to cure her insomnia. Rosario prepares a bountiful breakfast to show her love for Hugo.

Next time you are thinking of brushing up on a language don’t discount the value of actively and analytically watching a television program –even a soap opera.  You may be surprised at how it can be much more than entertainment. The key is to find an immersion activity you enjoy and stick with it.

  • Thank you for the recognition

  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • Get started with Workplace Inclusion Today!

  • SENSITIVITY AND EMPATHY TRAINING FOR WORKPLACE BULLIES

  • Find us on Facebook

  • Get started today with diversity and workplace inclusion

  • Follow me on Twitter

%d bloggers like this: