I have just entered a foreign trade company. My job is export sales. Therefore, I often need to communicate with foreign customers in English. When I was in college, I majored in international trade. I passed CET-6, and I can speak English fluently. However, when talking to customers, the communication effect is not satisfactory because I am not familiar with foreign trade terms as well as professional vocabulary, and do not adapt to customer accents. What should I do? How can I improve my English communication ability to adapt to foreign customers’ accents in a short period?
A funny thing happened the other day. A top student who had passed the N1 in Japanese met an engineer coming from Wakayama, Japan. As a result, the top student was replaced because he didn’t know engineering vocabulary and was not familiar with the engineer’s accent. But he complained to his colleagues that the engineer had a strong accent. He said that his pronunciation is Tokyo accent, without any problem.
This is a common occurrence. Some newcomers are confident in their foreign languages. But when they got to their new job, they ran into difficulties in the first negotiation.
The accent is actually a common problem in communication. It is impossible to expect all customers to speak standard foreign languages. But after listening too much, we will be able to understand the meaning. Therefore, we need to adapt to the pronunciation habits of others as much as possible.
As for technical terms, they are not frightful. In general, there are only hundreds of words often used, or even less, in a professional field. You can find a professional dictionary and collect some common technical terms. Then, you concentrate on learning for a few weeks that you can master the common basic words. For work, the most effective way is to learn oral language or terminology through communication. For example, there are many words in the customer inquiry that are not familiar with. Thus, you look up the dictionary to understand and remember the pronunciation, meaning and usage of each word. Also, these words may be used in quotation or contract transaction in two days. Learning technical vocabulary in this way works well.
I suggest that you should try to say the technical word that customers understand. I meet many newly-graduated students who aren’t accurate enough when using vocabulary that foreign businessmen can’t understand. This requires you to compare different expressions of a word to get a precise expression. In that case, your vocabulary increases and express more accurate.
A common way is to organize what you want to express before you talk. Then, you will speak more systematically, and won’t miss any content. After the communication, you can review whether there is any problem in that expression. Then, you can significantly improve your language communication ability.
I worked as a part-time on-site technical translator for a while. One day, I was asked to translate a technology meeting. At that time, I was unfamiliar with technical terms, so the translation couldn’t go on. That night, I rushed to the bookstore to buy a dictionary of scientific and technical English. Since then, I had a dictionary and a notebook in my bag every day. Once I met a word I didn’t know, I wrote it down and looked it up. I also asked the Chinese and foreign personnel for relevant equipment information. In this way, after a week, I could freely translate the communication content of most of the projects.
Under normal circumstances, the difficulty of English communication in foreign trade positions is not so great. More preparation, accumulation and training will bring great improvement.
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