Professional English Class: A deeper cultural understanding helps Alex develop her career as an architect

In the Professional English Class online, it is not very difficult to find students who already have high English proficiency, but also a passion to further improve their communication skills. Alex, an architect from Mexico, is one such student. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture and worked for an architecture firm in Mexico. Since she arrived in the US for her husband’s job 9 years ago, Alex has been seeking opportunities to develop her career.

“I didn’t want English to be a limitation of my career development whatsoever,” Alex said. “When I started working at an architecture firm in Detroit, it was very challenging for me because I was the only one who was from outside the US.” In this first US-based job, she struggled with cultural and communication differences as well as the use of technical words. “I found out that Professional English was totally different from daily conversations with my friends and neighbors.”

When Alex began her second job at another Detroit-based architecture firm, she already felt more comfortable communicating in a workplace. “However, I wanted to improve more because I didn’t want to make any excuses about my English. I never wanted to miss a chance because of the language barrier.” Her dedication to her career drove her to take the Professional English Class at MLC. 

The online format and the evening schedule of this class have been a great fit for Alex as a full time worker, as it allows her to skip a one hour commute to MLC from Troy, the town where she lives.

“Topics I learn at the class have been very useful for my day-to-day work,” she said. “The cultural difference in giving feedback especially helps me understand the communication style at  American workplaces.” Alex recalls the time when she worked for the first firm in Detroit. “At that time, I didn’t understand well what my prior boss and colleagues wanted to tell me, because the way of feedback in the US is totally different from that of Mexico. After taking this class, I figured out what they really meant to say at that time. Understanding the difference between two cultures has cleared all the vagueness I had struggled with for a while.”

Alex also mentions that she doesn’t consider the Professional English Class as a “class”. “Rather than attending a class, it might be more accurate to say I enjoy productive conversations and discussions with an amazing instructor and students. Alexandra, the instructor of my class, is so great at explaining all the topics that I can understand them very well. Also, other classmates have their own professional backgrounds and always have interesting things to say. I love this great combination of the instructor and students.”

Enjoying this class made her feel that she wants to see the instructor and students in-person as well. “For now it is a little difficult to find a time to visit MLC because I’m working on weekdays, but I would love to visit the school and meet people in-person sometime.”

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