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Archive for the ‘Speaking’ Category

Franglish: the language exchange event for native Italian and English speakers

01 Apr

Franglish France

There’s an exciting new way to practise your language skills in Milan. It’s called FRANGLISH and we spoke to Franglish co-founder Steven Annonziata to find out all about it…


NetworkMilan.com: What is Franglish?


Steven Annonziata:
Franglish is a language exchange event (Italian/English exchange in Milan and Rome) taking place every week in some of the best venues across your city. The goal of FRANGLISH is simple: to learn a foreign language in a relaxed atmosphere and to improve your language skills in a great environment where you can start meeting locals and forming friendships! It’s more of a social event than a language lesson. Our experience abroad taught us that the best way to learn a language is to talk about things we know and like. With FRANGLISH you can talk about anything and everything without the fear of being judged.

 

Franglish MeetUp


Network Milan: How does Franglish work?


Steven:
Firstly, you start by registering through the website http://www.franglish.eu, then the participants meet up in a bar or restaurant with a floor or room dedicated to Franglish, from 7pm to 9pm, for the price of 10 euros including one drink. After the welcome drink, they start their first one-to-one mini-conversation. Each session lasts for 15 minutes; Italians and anglophones alternate half of the time in Italian, half in English with at least 5 different people. After the 15 minutes is over, they switch tables and meet a new partner! Out of inspiration? If needed, a bilingual organiser is there to help people break the ice and guide them via conversation suggestions.


Network Milan: Where do Franglish events take place?


Steven:
Franglish events take place in bars and restaurants, usually on Tuesdays or Wednesdays from 7 to 9pm. A room is dedicated to Franglish.

Franglish Milan 2


Network Milan: Which cities / countries does Franglish operate in?


Steven:
We organise Franglish events in Italy (Milan and Rome), France (Paris, Nice, Lyon, Lille, Montpellier, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Strasbourg and Grenoble), Belgium (Brussels), the UK (London and Cambridge), the USA (Chicago and San Francisco) and Canada (Toronto).


Network Milan: Where did you get the idea for Franglish?


Steven:
I founded FRANGLISH with a friend, Nicolas Saurel. We have lived abroad, and back in France we started thinking about how we had only had a few opportunities to practise English with native speakers: it is not that easy to meet and create friendships with anglophones in France. We had tried many options spanning from very formal and quite expensive lessons to big parties where it can be sometimes difficult for attendees to overcome shyness. In essence, we couldn’t find a happy medium, so we decided to create it ourselves and came up with FRANGLISH.


Franglish is about making progress while having fun. In the friendly atmosphere of the best venues we offer anglophones and italians the opportunity to discover and share their language and culture while having a drink together. Not hidden behind their computer screens, but in person, in real life.

 

Franglish France 2


Network Milan: Is Franglish speed dating? If not, what are the differences?


Steven:
FRANGLISH is not an ‘aperitivo’ or a new approach to speed dating: it is a social event that allows you to (re)discover a language and a new culture. Franglish aims to create a link between communities that have a lot to learn from each other. So if your goal is to practise a language while making new friends, Franglish is made for you. If you’re looking for the love of your life, then I’m sure there are plenty of events made for you, but not Franglish I’m afraid.


Network Milan: What sort of people is Franglish aimed at?


Steven:
Franglish is aimed at people looking to improve their language skills. Practising is the key, and practising with native speakers is even better.


Network Milan: Are there any language levels / minimum language skills required, etc?


Steven:
Not really, all levels/ages are welcome at Franglish. Of course, it will be easier if you’re able to hold a conversation in the language you’re learning, but it’s not a necessary requirement of FRANGLISH.

 

Franglish Milan


Network Milan: How much do the events cost (typically)?


Steven:
The average cost is 10€ and it includes a welcome drink.


Network Milan: Why is Franglish different from / better than straightforward language exchanges / lessons (classes), etc


Steven:
Franglish is different from any other language exchange because of its format/organisation. The one-to-one conversations allow people to practise their language skills during the two-hour-long event. You sit with a native speaker in front of you and you have no choice other than talk to them! So even if your language skills are not that great (at least if that’s what you think) or if you are a bit shy, it won’t be a problem at Franglish.


People come back every week and we get great feedback so we’re pretty sure they really like it!


Network Milan: Franglish is already in a lot of places. Do you plan to expand it even further?


Steven:
Yes. Within a year we are aiming to launch Franglish in a lot of new places, especially in Europe and the USA.


Network Milan: How can I find out where Franglish events are taking place in my area?


Steven:
That’s quite easy. Just visit our website
www.franglish.eu and select the city where you live. All the information is updated every week. Signup is mandatory on the website so don’t forget to do it.


Network Milan: Thanks for taking the time to speak to us!


Steven:
Thanks for the interview and I hope to see a lot of expats, students, language enthusiasts and people who just want to practise speaking English or Italian at Franglish soon.

 

Logo-Franglish


Interview for NetworkMilan by Robert Dennis.


You can discover more Franglish events in Milan on the Club Tutti Expats International of Milano MeetUp group, including dates, locations and photos of recent events.


If you would like to attend a Franglish event, however, it is VERY IMPORTANT that you register with Franglish via their website http://www.franglish.eu.

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Riverstone: a new approach to learning business English, networking and social media marketing

23 Jan

Integrating language activities in a company helps achieve success.

Traditionally, language learning has been seen as either a service (or duty) provided by companies to their employees, while communications activities such as translation and providing content for the company website have been seen as separate tasks that can either be done in-house by the marketing team or outsourced to an agency.

Riverstone Language & Communications takes a totally different approach.

A dynamic, new organisation for business English, Riverstone believes that all language-related activities in a company should be integrated and harmonised: the way employees answer the phone and write emails; the language used to present the company in sales meetings with customers; the tone and content on the company’s corporate website and social media presence; and even its advertising media – all of these should resonate with one clear voice that is easy to understand, inspires trust and promotes the core brand values of the business.

By raising the quality of the entire company’s language skills and ability to speak directly to customers and clients, Riverstone can help any organisation achieve its business objectives and assist in building strong, lasting relationships.

Riverstone are also active in helping companies and professionals in a wide range of sectors to put their English language skills into practice by attracting new business and extending their network of contacts. With a programme of regular business networking events and specialist language workshops, Riverstone can enable any company or freelancer to give themselves a competitive advantage in the market place – especially in key foreign markets where communicating in English is essential.

Changing the way companies use English

While many companies have embraced the benefits offered by social media, Riverstone also understands that businesses need to be able to tailor and target their message effectively on a variety of social media platforms, such as facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other services. They have developed sophisticated language-based training programmes that help companies focus on the key objectives of communicating effectively via social media: establishing trust; conveying a sense of professionalism and integrity; engaging customers with a clear, compelling message; and building communities based on brands, as well as B2B networks.

Riverstone is owned and managed by Milan Business English Network founder Robert Dennis and entrepreneur Helen Fish. Together they are redefining the role of business English training and communications inside a company. Their model is one of collaboration and discovery: allowing management, employees and customers to speak to each other in a shared, inclusive dialogue that is both natural and productive.

“I would like people in business to think of Riverstone as a single solution for all their language needs: training, internal and external communications, and a stepping-stone towards accessing new markets and customers,” says Helen.

If you would like to discover how Riverstone is shaking up the business English world – and how they can help you business to maximise its potential through an integrated approach to language and communications – please contact either Robert Dennis (Robert@riverlang.com) or Helen Fish (Helen@riverlang.com). They will be delighted to provide you with information about their training programmes, workshops and business networking events.

NEW! The Milan Business English Network in association with Riverstone Language & Communications is holding a business networking event at Fiori Oscuri bar in Milan this Thursday. To find out more about this event, please visit the Milan Business English Network facebook event page or see the Riverstone website for details.

Find out more: http://riverlang.com/

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Robert Dennis of the Milan Business English Network joins John Peter Sloan and friends at Zelig for the launch of Instant English 2

23 Oct

Head to head: Robert Dennis and John Peter Sloan have a Business English conversation at Zelig

To mark the launch last month of Instant English 2, the enormously successful follow-up to John Peter Sloan’s first bestselling English language book, he invited some old friends to appear on stage with him at Zelig Cabaret. Among them was a “new” face: Robert Dennis, the founder of the Milan Business English Network.

“This is the first time I have done any acting since university,” said Robert, who appeared in a Business English sketch with John. “I played a business analyst who tries to explain what’s happening to the Italian economy in these troubled times. John attempts to translate for the audience, but soon he’s completely lost in all the financial jargon. Finally, I walk off, leaving him trying to convince the audience that everything’s OK.”

Many members of the cast  have appeared with John at Zelig in previous shows, as well as in the Speak Now! series of DVDs and books published by La Repubblica and L’Espresso. The show also included Derek Allen and Herbert Pacton performing a sketch in which Shakespeare and Dante try to beat each other at Scrabble (Scarabeo). John also delighted the audience with some of his new stand-up comedy material in English.

At the end of the show, which also featured JPS regulars Corinna Grandi, Louise KissaneCarol Visconti and Marta Zoboli, John signed books and chatted with fans. Actors Daniela Di Muro, Michael Stone and Leah Dawson also appeared in sketches which looked at the battle of the sexes from both a British as well as an American point of view. Italian comic Francesco Friggione very bravely did his act in English, as did Corinna and Carol, which both surprised and delighted the audience. Behind the scenes, Angela Auriemma did excellent work looking after costumes, props and providing much-appreciated support.

John Peter Sloan and the Instant English 2 cast at the Zelig show say "thank you" to a great audience

Robert Dennis, who is currently working with John Peter Sloan on several English-related projects, told Network Milan: “I had a great time at Zelig, but to tell the truth, appearing on the stage in front of hundreds of people was about the most terrifying thing I’ve done since coming to Italy! John helped me a lot. And although he makes it look easy, believe me – until you’ve been out on that stage you don’t really appreciate what it takes to be a successful performer.”

You can see more photos from the evening on John and Robert’s walls on Facebook, as well as via the Milan Business English Network Facebook page.

Click here to visit John’s website. And you can get all the latest Instant English news here.

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Should you use formal or informal language in a job interview?

21 May

Formal or informal?

Getting the balance right between formality and informality when you have an interview can be quite tricky (difficult). In a recent discussion on the Milan Business English Network an MBEN member asked about this important topic: here’s his question – and my reply…

Dear all,

I have been selected for an interview in the Investment Banking sector. I have some doubts regarding the type of language to use during the interview. In fact, I believe that both the informal and the formal ones have their own specific advantages. First of all, speaking with a formal and technical language makes you more professional but you will probably make  a higher number of mistakes. Conversely, speaking informally is easier and maybe, in a motivational interview, you can better express your real motivation and your passion…

I actually don’t know the solution to this dilemma…

Let me know what do you think about!

Thanks

Here’s my reply:

First of all, congratulations on getting an interview! You’ve cleared the first hurdle (obstacle) to getting a job in investment banking. You’re right to now focus on your strategy for the interview and, in particular, getting the right “tone” for your language.

The whole question of formal / informal language is definitely a key factor in communicating successfully in a business context in English. I have to say that (as with CVs – see my reply regarding the difference between Italian and British / American CVs), there is one big cultural difference between the Italians and the Anglo-Saxons, which is especially true in job interview. This is, basically, that in business Italian people tend to be TOO FORMAL (certainly when you have to speak to someone from Britain or the States. In Italy, of course, it’s perfectly normal to be quite (or even very) formal in a business situation, particularly when you don’t know the other person (which, obviously, is usually the case when you go for a job interview at a large company)).

Being too formal in an Anglo-Saxon business interview is a mistake, and here’s why:

People in business in English-speaking countries are generally more informal and relaxed with people they don’t know. You don’t need to spend a long time establishing a personal relationship with a business counterpart in order to overcome the barrier of formality. While the British are slightly more formal than the Americans, it is still generally the case that in a business setting people try and get to an informal level of communication as soon as possible. Why? It’s simple: because it’s easier to do business with someone without a lot of unnecessary formality. Yes, we wear suits and shake hands. But you will find that pretty much as soon as you sit down with your interviewer and start talking, they will try to establish an informal, one-to-one style of communication.

The reason for spending valuable time (and money) interviewing candidates for a job is that you can only tell so much from someone’s CV: you need to meet them face-to-face and find out what they’re really like. (In fact, many companies nowadays, particularly in younger industries such as web marketing, have abandoned formal interviews completely, deeming (judging) them to be too conventional and artificial. Instead, they ask candidates to form teams and undertake a mini-project, assessing their interaction, leadership potential and problem-solving skills simply by shadowing them as they complete the task assigned.) Nevertheless, formal interviews (particularly in more conservative sectors, such as banking, are still the main way banks and other companies get to know their potential colleagues).

You are quite right to draw (make) a distinction between the specific, technical jargon required and the softer, more personal language you use (especially when you are describing your individual qualities, professional goals and relevant experience from both your professional and social lives). With regard to the technical terms of banking and finance, any weak areas in your knowledge or understanding will be probed (explored) and tested. However, in my 20 years’ experience of teaching people from a wide range of professional backgrounds – as well as graduates applying for their first position – I have to say that the technical area is usually people’s strongest point: having either worked in the finance sector – or having studied the complex theories and statistical / quantitative methods that are required in order to operate successfully in this field – this is not, generally, people’s main problem. (Another point here is that most of the technical financial jargon is used in English anyway and isn’t generally translated.)

The main problem is in finding suitable, natural language to talk about your previous experience; how to bring the bare facts of your CV to life; and to inspire and convince your interviewer that you are a dynamic, capable person who can not only meet the demands of the job, but can also work well alongside colleagues quite often from very diverse backgrounds and nationalities (particularly if you are applying for jobs in London or New York).

While it’s useful to learn the key phrases that you can use in your interview, (e.g. in order to explain why you want this job, or what you consider your strengths and weaknesses to be), the main thing to focus on is PRACTISING your speaking skills so it becomes natural and automatic for you to talk about yourself, your experience and the company (or bank) you have applied to.

Of course, the best way to do this is with a teacher who can explain to you the exact force of each expression and help you with your pronunciation and grammar. But you could also just practice with a friend, each taking it in turns to be the interviewer or the interviewee.

I hope you have found this reply useful. If anyone else has a question regarding jobs, interviews, formal and informal language – or any issue relating to Business English, please start a discussion on the Milan Business English Network. We will do our best to help you!

© Robert Dennis 2011

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