The Best Restaurant in the World

As Performance in English heads north to Yorkshire and to facilities being hired at the impressive Hawkhills conference centre, and close to the beautiful historic cities of York, Ripon, and the world-famous Spa town of Harrogate, our thoughts turn to food and the great culinary traditions – so little appreciated outside these small islands – of England.


 

Three Pies

Traditional foods…


A modern touch

A modern touch

It will surprise many that Yorkshire is proud to have the best restaurant in the world, The Black Swan, in

Ox tongue

Ox tongue

Oldstead, beating Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck in Buckinghamshire and Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir near Oxford.


Wonderful surroundings

Wonderful surroundings

In fact, England currently has the top two restaurants worldwide; while Maison Lameloise, in Chagny, France, came in third, and  L’Auberge de l’Ill, Illhaeusern, France was voted fourth and Martin Berasategui, Lasarte, Spain, fifth.


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York Minster

The beautiful county of North Yorkshire has an amazing array of attractions and natural beauty, and – as a coaching client with us at The Hawkhills – you can also enjoy shopping in York or Harrogate, visits to places of tremendous interest, and the benefit of all sorts of entertainment.


From world-class World-famous theatre, to world-class shooting, and world-class tea rooms….

Harrogate-VisitEnglandBettys-Tearoom1

World-famous

Anyone for tea?


…to world-class coaching…

Conference comfort

Conference comfort

 

 

 

Manage your words well

Using English well in an international context is as important for native speakers of the language as it is for non-native students and other international users of English.

Whether this is because English happens to be the lingua franca of the organisation, company, corporation or community, or because those involved in any meeting have chosen to use English themselves, there is every chance that there will be people with differing ranges of experience and ability in the language, just as this would also be the case with people speaking French, Hungarian, Russian, Spanish, Mandarin, Turkish, Arabic, Swahili or Gaelic!

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Who of us can say we would be confident to attempt to do all that we do in our own language in any other language? We can perhaps learn how to order a prawn sandwich or a taxi, or to greet someone at the airport, wish them a good journey or thank them for their help. This does not take long and is a sensitive and polite thing to do when doing business with others.  It shows that we have made a little effort to learn about their ways.

Just as we can learn a few words, we can also learn about the cultures we interact with.

This process works both ways, because – though there is common ground within cultures for anything that we may need to discuss, and certainly room for exploration in a number of areas (or business would never happen or have been going on for thousands of years!) – there are also certain highly sensitive areas of “sacred ground” where discussion may be very difficult or even impossible.

Encroaching on these sensitive spots is risky and potentially rude. This is as true of the English-speaking culture as it is of any other.

The things that affect our identity are hard to define and having a well-researched book to refer to is essential; I recommend Richard Lewis’ excellent work for a clear and intelligent model when entering new ground in any culture.

Where the deeply-embedded elements of a culture’s specific core value system and the individual’s own modus operandi can have multiple layers that are not open to scrutiny, the language itself can give us the clues we need to how a people think.

We should take care with our words whether with other native speakers or with non-native speakers.

The Ratners Jewellery store in Regent Street, London, part of the chain owned by Gerald Ratner, which made a 112 million profit in 1990.

The Ratners Jewellery store in Regent Street, London, part of the chain owned by Gerald Ratner, which made a 112 million profit in 1990.

Careless language can be very costly. 

A famous story is that of successful businessman Gerald Ratner who in 1991 wiped £500m off his share value with one speech, when talking of his own high-street jewellery, he inadvisedly announced it was “cheaper than an M&S prawn sandwich and probably wouldn’t last as long”.

Another story is that of the Topman clothing chain and the firm’s brand director, David Shepherd, asked in an interview in 2001 to clarify the target market for his clothes, he replied: “Hooligans or whatever.”  He went on: “Very few of our customers have to wear suits for work. They’ll be for his first interview or first court case.”

The company later suggested that the word “hooligan” would not be seen as an insult among its customers.

happy hooligan

Such careless words may seem amusing or tough but they have consequences. In 2006, John Pluthero, the UK chairman of Cable & Wireless, sent a memo to staff, which said: “Congratulations, we work for an underperforming business in a crappy industry and it’s going to be hell for the next 12 months.” He warned of job losses and added: “If you are worried that it all sounds very hard, it’s time for you to step off the bus.”  Many did just that and found work elsewhere.

Another pitfall is translation and translation devices. They are not capable of understanding cultural and linguistic nuance. The ambiguity of translation is well summed-up with the example of a biblical quote, meant to express the struggle facing the industry at that time and to motivate the employees to make an extra effort, and that was used in an after-dinner speech translated into German
“The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak”.
This came out as “The schnapps is strong but the meat is rotten”

turn off

Language is not a set of conditioned responses triggered by previous words, because we can change these patterns at will. This allows us creativity and individualism.  Chomsky’s “poverty of the input” hypothesis tells us that what a child can produce in language is MORE than the input they have received via their parents or peers. This “new potential language” has come from within the child as he/she has acquired the deeper syntax. Somehow, the child knows that the structure  “Daddy what did you bring that book that I don’t want to be read to out of, up for?” is the only right use of syntax for English, for this question.

Pace is a deciding factor. People are more inclined to get excited and emotional speaking their own language than speaking English, this is hard to lose in a foreign language, suggesting that the control of output and having to pace themselves, will affect themselves and others

Impact

There are several negative and positive associations: native speakers are imagined to have more sensitivity but often they have less. Consequently natives can benefit from observing how a non-native speaks, or try to compose themselves in FL to see how it feels.

Having a slower pace enables better listening and more self-composure. However the emotions inside the L2 speaker are likely to be very high and for the L1 speaker, having to modify their language to obtain better results may at times feel frustrating, too.

portfolio-style

At PIE we can help you develop sensitivity to language that leads you to better outcomes. As a non-native we can show you how English works and how to use it effectively, in your own specific situation, according to different scenarios and your personal choices, understanding norms and idiosyncrasies.

Equally important, as a native speaker we can show you how good language management will lead you to better relationships, deeper awareness of communication and the avoidance of costly mistakes, and to a level of self-composure that is not over-confident but mature and manifested in a spirit of mutual respect.

Accents and register

How to be a Brit

The Hungarian journalist and BBC reporter, George (György) Mikes – pronounced / ɱ ‘i: ke ʃ  / – commented wryly in his bookHow To Be An Alien(1946), a classic of “British humour”, when – as a foreigner in England – he realised the importance of having a “suitable” accent:

“My dear, you really speak a most wonderful accent, without the slightest English!”

HowToBeAnAlien
Accents are of course connected to our origins and culture. There are national, regional and individual accents and these can link a person to social class, educational background, and character.

Who am I?
As many academics have shown over many years, the whole concept of one’s identity as a person cannot be separated from language. Languages express emotions, facts, notions of time, space and morality, in different ways, and arise as the communication surface structure built on generations of history, tradition, law, belief and education. How we perform depends on first how we understand, process and compose language.

Outcomes-based coaching and learning

Outcomes-based coaching and learning

There is the larger question of how English, as an international language, can serve to perform acts of identity that are specific to one’s own language. As linguists have tried to show, all languages share some deeper, innate, structure or else how could the same human being, theoretically, be born anywhere on the planet?

Mikes started his famous book with the words “In England, everything is the other way round”.

Culture itself cannot be entirely systematised, despite the efforts of anthropologists, psychologists and sociologists. Along with dress and other customs and habits, language is the outside sign of what a person deems themself to be. Actors, who play the part of another culturally different person, in the theatre, see this very clearly.

Consequently, as soon as we open our mouth, we “give away” something about who we are and how we wish to be perceived by others.  The process of “acculturation” – the process of internalising the implied rules of a “discourse community” – is something that anyone who lives or works with other language groups or nations, understands from day one. Culture “shock” can be one outcome of this difficult process. Bridging differences effectively, means using language very skilfully and being sensitive to culture.

conversation

Isn’t it?
For the learner of a second language, there results from this the thorny question of how to sound right. In some ways this leaves one free to choose the model one prefers, to “sound” correct in whatever circles that person happens to frequent.

It’s quite well-known that the use of question “tags” is a feature of spoken English:
“It’s a lovely day, today, isn’t it?”
“Oh yes, they said it was going to rain, didn’t they.”
“It’s so nice when it’s hot, isn’t it.”
“Yes I love it, don’t you?”
As George Mikes observed, “In England, you must never contradict anybody  when discussing the weather.”

Similarly, the words Yes and No – straightforward as these may seem – are loaded with difficulty, and cultural overtones, when we say “Yes” but mean “Maybe”; or when we say “No, I don’t mind at all” – and mean “That’s absolutely fine!”

In addition to the vexed question of “British understatement”, there is the related issue of the “proxemics” of a given culture and the register of particular words and phrases. How should we “act”? How close should we stand to another person? How soon is it appropriate to ask a personal question? How direct or indirect is it appropriate to be? The exact combination of phonetic training, listening to sounds, using the voice and breathing in order to “come across” with confidence and fluency, is something that requires a thorough analysis and discussion.

Contact us to find out more!

How do we measure success?

Bluebird water speed

What is success?

Certainly, from a coaching perspective, it is reaching one’s goals.

The famous holder of the world land speed record (and on water too), Malcolm Campbell, famously said:

“When you have reached your goal, set yourself another“.


Bluebird Proteus CN7 Donald Campbell landspeed record car
His son, Donald, continued the proud tradition of tempting fate and taking speed to the limit.

Some might say, it’s important to know when you have done enough!

We have met and worked with hundreds of people, some who needed to go “just that little bit further” and others who had a “mountain to climb” or who “made huge improvements in no time at all”!

Our job is, that by giving prompts and tools the client is empowered to make inner changes themselves; the coach is a facilitator, not some kind of guru!

Everyone is a kind of expert who can tell you how to do things and what to do. But actually the only expert on you is YOU.

Just as only YOU can interpret the messages in your dream, 20 people can give the same presentation but it will be different in each case. Some will connect with their audience but others will not? Why is this?

This is where a great coach can make a world of difference.

Acting when the time is right, making the critical decision, knowing when to act and when not to, and acting swiftly and decisively, or taking one’s time to think things through.

The difference between winning that business contract or not; the difference between being successful in something or not; between becoming excellent at something, and going far enough to know what success feels like.

 

donald campbell and k7 crew

What are you thinking about?

Cherubs with bumble bee small

Cherubs with bumble bee (after Michelangelo)

As visitors to this site and blog may know, Peter is a painter, and enjoys the rare times he finds to paint.

Painting offers an opportunity to reflect on life and to decide how we derive pleasure from the many things we see, do and experience.

The whole process of thinking opens up doors that sometimes prefer to remain shut!

There are many things said nowadays about how our thoughts influence our feelings, actions and experience of life.

From the idea that we should train our mind to see good in every situation and the idea that positive thinking creates energy, initiative and happiness, comes the opposite one – which follows from the first – that “the discontent and frustration you feel is entirely your own creation”.

This, however, is not at all fair to the person whose thoughts are sometimes a jumble of conflicting voices.

From an NLP perspective, the words we hear inside our head are not our own but often borrowed from what we have heard, seen and felt, from others.

What’s important is to clear up the ones that we have borrowed from elsewhere and have become ‘stuck’ – and those that reflect our deeper and lasting goals.

This is so important when we are coaching.

Learning a language can provide an opening to a whole new way of experiencing the world.

Things suddenly become very clear when we see them in new ways!

Lau Tzu B&W
We cannot stop thinking – though as the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu believed:  Stop thinking, and end your problems!
Certainly it helps to be able to switch off one’s wandering thoughts and focus on the discipline that being with a coach, provides…. at  P.I.E. above all, we focus on a relaxing and thought-provoking approach that enriches the experience the learner is having, whilst helping them to avoid the pitfalls of over-thinking, which can be confusing and counter-productive!

It’s about doing inspiring things that will always be remembered, not trying to force learning!

As another great thinker – Plutarch – said,

The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled. 

Plutarch B&W

 

 

 

 

 

New blogs!

PIEbutton RussianUK

Beginning a new series of blogs this Spring, we’d like to welcome those who visit this page via our new association with RussianUK magazine!

Watch this space for blogs on all manner of subjects:

  • building confidence (English for non-native speakers)
  • giving a presentation with impact
  • going for an audition or interview
  • tools to access your subconscious
  • how to override your nerves to raise your performance
  • listening to really understand what someone means

And much, much more!