What is Language Coaching? And Who and How Does it Help? | By Beáta Kovács

Language Coaching might not be the most well-known field of the coaching industry, but it is getting more and more attention. In this article Beáta highlights the key elements of Language Coaching, who benefits from it and how we can make excellent use of it.

What is Language Coaching?

Language Coaching supports people who speak foreign (non-native) languages - either in the language learning process or in their everyday or professional active use.

Due to the changing needs and expectations of foreign language learners, and the VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world we live in, the role of language teachers has changed significantly over the past decades. And I believe teaching a new language is much more efficient when supplemented - or in certain cases substituted by - Language Coaching.

How does Language Coaching differ from traditional learning methods?

Learning a foreign language is usually guided by a qualified language teacher. In a traditional learning environment, it's the teacher who sets the curriculum and has the answer to the students' questions. However, in Language Coaching, the coachee sets their own goals. They may also work with their coach to solve a specific project and be coached to find answers to their own questions.

With Language Coaching, I support my clients to overcome any obstacles they encounter when learning a foreign language. I help them get rid of their limiting beliefs, become self-confident and apply learning techniques that best suit them as individuals. I also help them prepare for foreign language challenges in a corporate environment.

How can a Language Coach help in learning or using a foreign language?

While learning a foreign language, learners meet many obstacles that can prevent them from enjoying a smooth and satisfying learning process.

Sometimes a negative experience can dissuade learners from further studies or they may give up at an early stage. Other obstacles include finding it hard to speak or pronounce the new language, not progressing fast enough or feeling unmotivated. These obstacles all have different origins. And while some obstacles can be prevented from arising, others can be addressed and then eliminated with efficient coaching techniques.

How is Language Coaching different to the traditional process for learning a new language?

A language coach starts by helping the coachee to define their goals, which is rarely part of a traditional learning process. In Language Coaching, we set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound). Because if the goals are clear and owned by the coachee, the coachee will be more motivated.

Then, after the goal has been well-defined, we create an action plan for both the short and long term. Then, in every Language Coaching session, the learning is based around the coachee's goals.

A Language Coach also helps the coachee discover and eliminate obstacles that would prevent them from achieving their language learning goals. These can be inhibitions, frustrations and underlying limiting beliefs. By rethinking and redesigning these beliefs and other factors, the coachee's mindset and attitude to learning will change. Learning blockages are removed for a more successful learning outcome.

Tools used in Language Coaching

There are several coaching tools I find exceptionally efficient in Language Coaching. These include pictures/images, LEGO figures, self-made worksheets and simulation (role-play) activities. I often use a SWOT analysis to make the coachee aware of the various competencies and strengths they can rely on.

Language Coaching in the Workplace

A language coach can also support and give a boost to people who have to use a foreign language in the corporate environment.

Coachees in the workplace meet similar obstacles to the 'straightforward' language learners. For example, people often say they avoid using a foreign language because they, "do not possess the necessary command of the foreign language". And they also say, "My colleagues speak the language so much better than I do".  However, in the majority of the cases these assumptions turn out to be false and can be coached around.

There are also several other fields of business life that can be supported by Language Coaching. For instance:

  • Giving presentations
  • Taking part in negotiations
  • Writing e-mails
  • Making phone calls
  • Participating in a foreign language job interview

In all these cases we eliminate the coachee's language "blocks" and learn to leave their comfort zone without freezing. And they can also learn, practice and role play many different verbal and non-verbal communication techniques.

Wrap-up

I believe a solution-focused strength-based coaching approach is most efficient for Language Coaching - especially when the coachee has time pressure preparing for a challenge.

Owing to the encouraging and supportive environment of Language Coaching, learners and users of foreign languages get to improve their language performance to their full potential. And they also raise their self-esteem and confidence, discover what motivates them and learn what strengths they can rely on.

Language Coaching has so many benefits in many areas of life that every foreign language user can benefit from being supported by a Language Coach!

Beata Kovacs HeadshotContributing author: Beáta Kovács is a qualified language and career coach and trainer. She is the founder of iCoachU Studio in Budapest, Hungary. Language and career coaching are the key areas of her coaching practice and she also helps clients develop soft skills, learn efficient communication using NLP techniques, improve time management, motivation, self-awareness and team building. She also trains and mentor teachers of foreign languages from all over Hungary to become instructors using a coaching mindset. It is her mission to popularize language coaching and get more and more people acquainted with it in the foreign language classroom and corporate environment. Connect with her on Instagram, Linkedin, Twitter or email her icoachu3 at gmail.com

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