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Coach’s Commentary on Hana Tomita
Hana Tomita came to Aaron Coaches wanting to work on her business English. She had chosen Aaron Coaches’ Intermediate Business E-Mail Writing (IBEW). Hana was assigned a coach and work began quickly.
Some students come to Aaron Coaches with definite ideas about what writing topics they want to work on. Other students prefer to be given assignments. Hana was in this latter category. She asked her Aaron Coach to give her assignments.
The following five items are descriptions of Hana’s assignments:
(1) For her first assignment, Hana was asked to write an imaginary memo to her boss, requesting an extension of her maternity leave. Hana had just had a baby and her coach knew that she wanted to stay home with her baby a little longer. Hana was very pleased to write on such a topic!
(2) This is the message text that the Aaron coach sent Hana for her second assignment:
Hi, Hana! For your second lesson, I am giving you an imaginary bank check in a very high amount. You are in charge of taking this money and starting a daycare center at your job.
Your assignment is to write the email that you will send to your fellow employees to notify them about this daycare center. Let them know what sorts of services will be provided. Inform them as to what the cost (if any) will be to them. Tell them when the daycare will start. Where will it be located? Will you be forming a parents’ committee? Will your co-workers have an opportunity to express their opinions about how the childcare facility is constructed and managed?
I don’t know if Japanese employers provide on-site childcare. The trend is for big American companies to do so and, of course, American parents are thrilled if they can work for a company with a daycare center at work. Such daycare makes life so much better for both parents and child, to be in the same building all day, to be able to travel to/from their home together, to see each other at lunch. Women who are breastfeeding can feed their babies during the day.
If I had to guess, however, I would say that the percentage of American employers who provide this service is still extremely small, probably 1% or less. Yet, the need for daycare has been recognized as a need in big companies and I think we’ll see more daycare centers at work as time goes on.
I think this will be a fun lesson! Please let me know if you have any questions; otherwise, I’ll look forward to receiving the lesson back in a week or so.
(3) This is the message text that the Aaron coach sent Hana for her third assignment:
Hello, again, Hana. Here is my suggestion for our third lesson together. If you are happy with the assignment, please go ahead and complete it within the next week or so. Otherwise, please let me know if you have questions or concerns.
A colleague from your department is traveling (either to Australia or Hong Kong–you pick!) on company business. The colleague will be away for an extended time and has asked you, because you have spent time in Australia/Hong Kong, whether you have any advice or suggestions. I would like you to write a memo and share whatever you feel appropriate. You can give cultural tips, travel advice, sight-seeing suggestions, etc. This person is especially concerned about using English in a foreign country so make sure to share anything you feel would be helpful.
I look forward to reading this. (Whichever place you choose will be of interest to me. I have never been to either Australia or Hong Kong….)
(4) By the fourth assignment, Hana was getting some ideas of her own about what she wanted to work on. She wrote to her Aaron coach:
I am also interested in making our data center’s specifications, because we don’t have any company’s standard format which looks good enough to satisfy our customers. Our customers are companies from various industries and the most of their front persons are system integrators.
Her coach responded by saying:
Hana, thank you for sharing some of the details of your work situation with me. I think that the situation is ripe for an assignment. But I have a few questions first.
When you say specifications, do you mean company policy? Company policy would be the handbook of rules that establish guidelines for employees and for their work product. Company policy is an internal document, designed for the exclusive use of company employees. Is that what you mean by specifications? If so, I think writing some company policy is a terrific idea.
I am not 100% clear about whether what you want to write is intended for use by your colleagues or your customers. Company policy is not something your customers would ever read.
Now, a mission statement, in contrast, is something you can provide to your customers. A mission statement is a short document that sets forth what your company strives to do, your company’s mission. Or you could write a contract that promises a customer a specific service. I’d like a little clarification from you as to what sort of document you’re talking about in the above paragraph.
Through several emails, Hana and her Aaron coach decided that Hana would try her hand at writing company policy for her fourth assignment.
(5) For their last assignment together, Hana asked her coach to pick the topic. The coach sent Hana the following suggestions:
Hana, for your last lesson, I’d like you to write me a job description and job instructions for your job. Actually, this can be either for your real job or the job you wish you had!
Imagine that you have won a huge multibillion yen lottery and you have decided to quit your job. Your boss needs to replace you and train your replacement. However, your boss has no idea what you do! All s/he knows is that things run smoothly when you’re there.
As one last act of assistance for your clueless boss, you will write a description of what you do and how you do it. This will also be very helpful to your replacement. Because of your newfound billions, you haven’t given two week’s notice and you aren’t there to train your replacement!
Please feel free to ask me if you have any questions.
I’ll look forward to reading this when you are ready.
Hana Tomita came to Aaron Coaches with good English skills for a non-native speaker. She had spent some time abroad but no longer used her English as much as she wanted to. Working with Aaron Coaches spurred Hana to spend more time on her English. Her coach encouraged Hana to read more English material, even if only a few minutes a day. The Aaron coach also encouraged Hana to start reading to her baby in English so that the baby could develop an ear for English. “Just think what a gift you’ll be giving your daughter,” the coach said, “by giving her a jump start on her English skills!”
Hana had some of the typical difficulties in English that Aaron Coaches see in many Japanese students. She often forgot to use an article or other modifier with nouns. She had difficulty with the possessive form. She also used words repetitively, sometimes three or more times in one paragraph. Hana needed to learn more English vocabulary. Hana’s coach encouraged her to expand her English vocabulary.
Of course, it is not realistic to think that anyone could radically change their English writing in only five lessons. However, both Hana and her coach were very pleased with the work in the IBEW course. Both felt that Hana made good progress in a relatively short time.
Hana Tomita was very goal oriented. She knew that she wanted to improve her English writing ability. She had been away from work and felt that her English language abilities had become rusty.
The coach was skilled at giving Hana suggestions for topics, and Hana took to the suggestions as a fish takes to water. She wrote faithfully and seemed to enjoy the process of writing. From my observations, Hana was able to improve her writing skills.
However, one course is one step. What Hana needs to do is to continue writing independently as often as she can. One option is to keep a journal and write about the events of each day. Hana also needs to read. Coaches generally provide reading suggestions for language improvement. Reading cements language structures and enlarges vocabulary. Reading and writing go hand in hand.
If you look back at your own learning in English, sports, or any other field, you’ll see that doing an activity once is only the beginning, the first step. An Aaron course helped Hana to get started with improving her writing. Now Hana needs to continue the process on her own. Of course, she can always return for another course, but self-guided learning is her next step.