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Working Online as Language and Communication Coach

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Gloria Spagnoli
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If you're considering becoming a language and communication coach, here are 4 questions you need to know the answer to first. Learn what a language and communication coach does, how to get started working online as a coach, and very importantly, how you can find online clients and start working!

What does a language and communication coach do?

In a quick glance, a language and communication coach:

  • teaches a foreign language, focused on daily conversations
  • helps their student navigate the foreign culture
  • deals with situational contexts to avoid faux pas
  • aids students to overcome insecurities
  • empowers their clients

A language and communication coach helps people not only learn a language but also use it in the daily conversations that they need the most. A language coach is aware of how a language is learned, of how memory works, and of what people need to do in order to secure themselves a long-lasting learning.

But we all know that languages are not just a matter of putting words together. This is where the communication and mindset parts jump in.

A language and communication coach helps people also navigate the complex world of interacting in a foreign language, with different cultural habits, in a foreign country, and with unfamiliar people.

They’re aware of what works and what doesn’t in the culture that they are teaching, and they pass on the right tools to their clients so that they can have a better understanding of what to do and what to say in each different situation.

This type of coach also helps their clients deal with the insecurities that come with speaking a new language. These insecurities can be not knowing what to say, being afraid of making mistakes, being worried about other people’s reactions to their mistakes, their foreign accent, or their faux pas. And also feeling insecure or anxious before joining conversations in a language they’re learning.

Last but not least, a language and communication coach empowers their clients and makes them feel comfortable and at ease while rehearsing conversations in the new language with them.

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How can you become a language and communication coach?

This is an emergent profession, so there is currently no official training to get certified and demonstrate your professionalism. And it’s also hard to find the right courses to guide you on this path. There are plenty of online and in-presence courses, all with different philosophies and approaches. However, in order to not get lost, there are a few things to take into account when you want to embark on this journey and become an efficient and professional language and communication coach.

Science

In order to be effective, coaching needs to rely on psychology. Otherwise, it won’t work.

For those who are not familiar with evidence-based psychology, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is one of the best models to take as a reference. The world of coaching is full of theories that haven’t been validated by science, and therefore are pretty dangerous to use.

When you rely on science and evidence-based practice, you can be sure you’re doing the right thing for your client.

Also, didactics and pedagogy are an important part of this job. And those, too, have to be backed up by science and research. There are learning and teaching techniques that work and others that don’t.

I began my job after taking a teaching certification back in 2015 and I can guarantee that one course is not enough if you want to give the best to your clients. Keeping yourself updated is more than necessary. Personally, I found it useful to take courses such as “Learning How to Learn” and “Mindshift” by Barbara Oakley. Also, Scott Thornbury’s books are excellent resources if you want to make sure you use teaching techniques that truly work.

Let’s not forget that, in the world of language teaching and language coaching, neuroscience should be your best friend.

Knowledge

It’s extremely important to know both the language and the culture you’re helping your clients with. Say for example you need to do some role-play activities or talk about cultural issues. You need to know what you’re talking about.

Your clients need to have an idea of what their conversations are going to be like, of what they can say and do, and what’s better to not say and do. They need to know what’s acceptable and not acceptable in a specific culture. What’s rude and what is not.

Empathy

A client can come to you completely frustrated and overwhelmed. Not knowing what to do to solve this or that problem. Most of the time, clients come to you when they’ve tried absolutely everything in their power to change their current situation. They are now completely lost and stuck, and they don’t know what to do to get out of it.

This is why validating their emotions is a must. You want your clients to feel understood, welcomed, and safe when they come to you. You are now a reference point to them. Someone they can open up with and talk about what is going on. So make sure you keep an open mind and an open heart when you listen to your clients.

Put yourself in their shoes, make them feel understood, and then lead them to find the solution to their current challenge. It’s easy to jump to conclusions and give them advice straight away, but let’s not forget that you’re there to listen to them and empower them through targeted powerful questions.
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Who can you work with?

Normally expats are your main target audience. But generally speaking, you can work with anyone who wants to learn a language and speak it in the foreign country that is going to be their country of adoption.

Ideally, people should be motivated to be a part of the place they’re going to live in. People who truly want to mingle with the locals and experience life in a new country. People who are interested in savoring the details of the place they chose to be their home. People who are willing to embrace the good and the bad of their second home, the gems and the peculiarities, the charm and the dark side.

One of the most important things to remember is that you can only help who wants to be helped. So make sure you check with your potential clients that they are willing to invest time and do extra work between each session. Your clients need to take the reins of their situation and be motivated to make changes in their lives.

Last but not least, let’s not forget that in teaching, in coaching, and in therapy, in order to see results, there has to be teamwork, Both you and your clients should be aware of this and be committed to working together so that real change happens.

How can you find clients online?

This depends a lot on who you want to work with. Defining your niche helps you save a lot of time and energy.

Ask yourself a few questions:

  • Who do you want to work with?
  • What life do they lead?
  • How old are they?
  • What are they struggling with?
  • Where do they look for information to solve their problems?

These questions can help you have an idea of where to look for your clients and/or be found by them. If you want to be on social media, you can choose the social media platform that you feel more comfortable with and that can help you connect with your potential clients more naturally and spontaneously. If you prefer to not be on social media, guest posts and guest interviews on podcasts can be a great solution and definitely something I highly encourage.

Also, make sure you speak your clients’ language. Not just their first language, but also the words they use in their day-to-day lives. Speak to them. Speak with their words. Make them feel like they’re being understood.

Once you know what their problem is and how you can help them, make them feel like they’ve found a solution: you and your products and services.

xx,
Gloria

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