Believe it or not, aside from running the English Harmony blog, I have a full time job! I work in a knitwear manufacturing company, and my job involves packing customers’ orders so there’s a lot of counting going on. Sometimes I spend entire days looking at order printouts and calling out product codes and quantities to myself while I’m packing the respective garments. Can you guess where this is all leading to?
Yes, I do all counting and number crunching in English ❗
“Is it a big deal?” you may ask. “Why should I bother myself with counting in English while working in similar conditions? I use English when I need to talk to someone, but other than that I’m happy to use my native language when being on my own and doing mundane tasks at work!”
With all due respect, my dear blog reader, but I have to disagree!
Partially it’s because I always tend to disagree with popular beliefs and assumptions, but for the most part it’s because it’s very IMPORTANT to develop one’s ability to THINK in English.
So read on to find out WHY counting merchandise at work or calling our product codes to yourself in English is beneficial to your English fluency ❗
Hardwiring English into Your Brain
By making it your habit to perform mundane tasks accompanied by counting or calling out product codes in English you’ll hard-wire English into your brain. Initially it will require conscious effort, but it will become second nature to you over time. It will get easier and easier and eventually you’ll achieve a state of mind when you don’t have to make any effort to speak the numbers and codes in English by yourself. And that is the first step towards thinking in English which is crucial in order to achieve fluency in the language!
Just think about it – if you spend HOURS of your daily routine whispering stuff by yourself in English, you won’t have much room for your native language thoughts in your head. Your speech takes over your mind and even such a simple exercise as calling out numbers by yourself will result in an increased ability to think in English.
Also calling our numbers in English when you’re engaged in routine activities at work is a great way to practice spoken English if you’ve very little real-life communication opportunities. If you spend your entire day in a warehouse or a production plant fulfilling orders and it involves constant counting, you’re most likely calling out those numbers to yourself in a slight whisper using your native language. So why not use English instead? Being overheard shouldn’t be an issue for you since you’re speaking with yourself in your native language anyway! 😉
I understand that initially it might make you slightly uncomfortable if someone hears you speak English with yourself, but then it’s no-body else’s business but yours. Why would you care what your fellow natives think? If they make funny remarks about you showing off your English skills, don’t take it seriously, it’s all a matter of perspective. Just make a joke in return and don’t be bothered by it.
And if it’s other English speaking people who can sometimes hear you crunching numbers and calling out codes to yourself in English – I think it actually looks very good. You’ll be regarded as someone who makes extra effort improving your English, and if someone asks you anything about it – just tell them you think it’s natural to use English in an English working environment, regardless of lack of real communication.
My work colleagues, for instance, haven’t even heard me speak Latvian except on rare occasions I’m on the phone with my wife.
Whenever I go abut my daily business entering sales orders, packing sweaters and shirts and chasing up urgent orders I ALWAYS use English even when reading out and repeating things to myself ❗
It’s the simple things like numbers and spellings that you’ll be constantly repeating to yourself when calling out numbers and codes, and it’ll work beautifully to make speaking in English your second nature.
Don’t Turn It On and Off – Keep Your English constantly ON!
Would you normally call out a product code in your language before marking it off on the picking list and then use English to talk to your co-worker? It’s going to be much easier for you to communicate with your English speaking colleagues and superiors if you don’t have to constantly switch from your mother tongue to English. Even though it’s possible to switch between languages without mixing them up, I think you’d be much better off providing as long English immersion for yourself as you possibly can.
Can you roughly estimate how much time you spend at work speaking English with others? If you’re fortunate enough, you’re sitting on the phone the whole day dealing with English speaking customers. Congratulations! You’re getting loads of exposure to English and also spoken English practice.
If you have a manual or some other type of a job where you’re not so involved in inter-personal communication, however, you might not be getting enough practice. 5 – 10 minutes might be the most you’re getting, so it’s in your best interests to immerse yourself in the English language for as long as you can!
Don’t keep switching between your native language and English. Keep immersed in English all day long by performing the most tedious actions accompanied by English comments. Counting products and calling out product codes, working with sales and stock figures, repeating simple actions like “All right, now I have to fetch some printing paper…” – it can be all done using English if you’re serious about improving your spoken English fluency!
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The other day I walked into the embroidery department at work and I heard one of the girls who work there counting sweaters to herself in her native language – Polish. Probably it had never occurred to her that she could use English for that purpose. Maybe one day I should suggest her to start doing it? 🙂
P.S. Are you ready to get on the fast track to spoken English fluency? Check out my English Harmony System HERE!