When I asked for suggestions of what to include in our upcoming revision of Clear, Correct, Concise E-Mail: A Writing Workbook for Customer Service Agents, a number of people suggested adding content to help non-native English speakers who respond to customer e-mails in English.
Sheila Wilson, a teacher of business English in France, framed the problem particularly well: “Many of my students have to send e-mails in English to customers around the world. It is no mean feat for a French customer service agent to keep a Chinese client happy and informed, I can tell you! Conditions are ripe for misunderstandings on both sides.”
We do hope to address this issue in our revised workbook. But in the meantime, I thought I'd share some ESL—English as a second language—resources to help non-native English speakers write better e-mail.
- Dave’s ESL Café
A comprehensive ESL resource for students and teachers. The website includes extensive material on idioms, slang, confusing words, and grammar.
Includes handouts, worksheets, and lessons for beginner, intermediate, and advanced adult ESL learners.
- The Internet TESL Journal
A comprehensive resource for ESL teachers that includes:
- A lesson in which students write a complaint letter
- Practical guidance on using e-mail as an ESL teaching tool
- Learning materials for native speakers of 19 languages
- ESL Mania
A comprehensive ESL resource with content specific to business English, including:
- ESL Business Writing Video: E-Mail Tune Up 01
YouTube video that reviews and discusses mechanics, style, and tone of e-mail.
And don’t forget to take a look at my previous post Idioms: Should You Bend Over Backwards to Avoid Them? Both native and non-native English speakers will enjoy the Idioms by Kids website, which features kids’ drawings of the literal meaning of idioms.
-- Marilynne Rudick