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  • Writer's pictureKathy

AI in Business Communication: Tips for Non-native English Speaking Professionals



Artificial Intelligence (AI) is rapidly shaping our world and we're witnessing an extraordinary transformation in how we work and communicate. 


Gone are the days when AI was seen as just a novelty, it has become a powerful force, offering immense opportunities to those who embrace its potential.

As various thought leaders have pointed out, "AI won’t take your job, but someone using AI might." 

As an English trainer and consultant, I've had the privilege of working with hundreds of non-native speaking professionals, assisting them in enhancing their English proficiency. I've used a diverse range of traditional teaching methods, all of which are still proving to be highly effective.

However, over the last year I've embraced tools like Copilot and ChatGPT and integrated them into all of my Business and Academic English courses. These generative tools not only provide effective language learning support but also facilitate the creation of new content by combining ideas in new ways.


While AI is not a "silver bullet" and has its limitations, it nonetheless offers both native and non-native English speakers an unprecedented range of tools to enhance their professional English communication.


From writing persuasive emails to designing impactful presentations, optimizing web content, creating informative brochures, and managing social media content, AI empowers you to boost productivity, creativity, and engagement across communication platforms. 


You can also use it to summarize large amounts of information, analyze the clarity and persuasiveness of text, adjust your tone and style, ultimately enabling you to create compelling texts that resonate with your audience.


In this article, we’ll take a closer look at:

1.     Three limitations of AI

2.     "AI and English Skills Cycle"

3.     Role of human trainers in language learning

4.     Workshop activities for language practice


1. Three Limitations of AI

While the potential of AI is clearly immense, it's essential to recognize and navigate around its limitations in order to produce clear, accurate content written in language that has the desired tone and style.

Errors

While AI can be a powerful tool, it’s not flawless and can generate various types of errors, including:


  • Grammar mistakes

  • Factual mistakes

  • Misinterpretations of queries

  • Incorrect "corrections"

  • Biases in result


If you encounter a response that you feel may be wrong, you should cross-check it with a reliable source, or you can try challenging the AI to verify the result. There's a chance you’ll receive an improved answer, but you may not. 


Recognizing errors is crucial for effective communication, and individuals with good English skills may be better equipped to identify them. Enhancing your English proficiency will significantly aid in spotting and rectifying these mistakes.


Lack of Human Tone

AI-generated text often lacks the warmth and authenticity of human expression, resulting in content that sounds terribly artificial and out of touch with the writer's true voice. For example, have you noticed many emails lately beginning with “I hope this email finds you well”?


This artificial voice can create two significant problems:

  • Loss of distinct tone and personality in your written communication, diminishing the impact and relatability of your message,

  • Clear difference between your written and spoken communication, as the fluency demonstrated in text may be heard in your verbal expression.


For example, imagine confidently sending off a meticulously worded letter, only to find yourself stumbling over the same vocabulary in a job interview. The discrepancy between written and spoken communication can create an awkward mismatch that undermines your credibility. Similarly, presenting a proposal to a client that’s packed with unfamiliar jargon can backfire when you struggle to pronounce those words in a meeting.


"AI can’t read our minds or fully express the nuances of our experiences and emotions. It can generate human-like responses, but it remains unable to truly grasp the depth and complexity of genuine human storytelling."

Risk of Overreliance

For quite some time, we’ve all been depending on non-generative AI tools in communication, e.g., text-prediction, text translation and speech recognition. However, an overreliance on generative AI for communication can cause more profound concerns.


For example:

  • Loss of individuality

  • Diminished critical thinking skills

  • Inadvertent inclusion of incorrect information

  • Suppressed creativity and innovation

  • Ethical concerns regarding bias in AI-generated text


These issues can be addressed through responsible AI usage. Be sure to maintain a critical mindset. The tool should supplement your human capabilities -- not replace them.


2. The “AI and English Skills Cycle” 

Enhancing your overall language proficiency is an important step in navigating the limitations of AI. 


The "AI and English Skills Cycle" offers a dynamic solution that uses the power of AI to build good English skills, and conversely, the power of improved English skills to improve AI results. 


Let's explore how this cycle works:


1. Enhance your English proficiency through targeted practice and learning activities.

2. Create effective AI prompts that align with your text creation or language learning goals.

3. Select results that resonate with you while also analyzing and understanding why certain content appeals to you.

4. Engage actively with AI-generated text by asking questions, seeking clarification, and experimenting with different prompts.

5. Incorporate your own words and style to ensure the final text reflects your unique voice.

6. Refine your writing prompts and techniques through practice and experimentation to enhance both your language skills and AI utilization. 


"I have loads of tips I can share with you - including AI-enhanced writing techniques that native speakers use themselves!"

3. Role of Human Trainers in Language Learning

While AI tools have transformed language learning and communication, it's essential to recognize the valuable contributions of human instructors, for example:


Personalized Feedback: Human trainers get to know you as a person and understand your language needs and goals. They can distinguish subtle nuance in language and offer you tailored feedback on everything from vocabulary to pronunciation.


Interactive Learning Environments: AI cannot replicate the dynamic and interactive learning environment that human trainers offer.


Through face-to-face interaction, real people can stimulate active participation, encourage spontaneous conversation, and facilitate real-time feedback, promoting authentic language acquisition.


Whether it’s through visual aids, role-plays, or other activities, they ensure that instruction resonates with each learner, promoting meaningful engagement and comprehension.


Non-Verbal Communication: Human interaction involves more than just words; it encompasses non-verbal cues such as eye contact, facial expressions, and body language. 

Trainers leverage these cues to gauge understanding, provide encouragement, and create a supportive learning environment that boosts confidence and connection -- in a way that only humans can.


4. Workshop Activities: Two examples


Conversing with AI for Language Practice

In this exercise, participants can ask AI about anything they’re curious about or want to practice, whether it's improving Business English, learning about grammar concepts or writing stories.


Here are a few sample prompts:


"Can we discuss current events in English? I'd like to practice my conversational skills."


"Could you provide feedback on my writing? I'm working on improving my email structure."


"I'd like to expand my vocabulary. Can you suggest some synonyms for common words?"


"I'm preparing for a job interview. Can you help me practice answering common interview questions in English?"


"I'm interested in learning idiomatic expressions. Could you provide examples and explain their meanings?"


"I want to improve my comprehension skills. Can you recommend English podcasts or articles for me to listen to or read?"


Try a few of these or create some of your own. Reply to the answers you and keep the conversation going!


Prompt “Makeover” Exercise

In this exercise, participants explore the impact of using simple versus detailed prompts. Below, you'll see two examples, but it's important to note that many more variations are possible. This diversity in prompts enriches the learning experience as participants can experiment with different approaches and observe their effects.


Simple Prompt: “Help write an email to an angry client.”


Analysis: This prompt lacks specificity and fails to provide crucial details about the context of the situation, the desired outcome of the email, and the tone to be conveyed. As a result, Copilot gives us a sample email, but it doesn’t have the information it needs to provide a more tailored response:


Dear [Client’s Name],

I hope this email finds you well. I apologize for any inconvenience you’ve experienced, and I appreciate your feedback. Your satisfaction is of utmost importance to us, and I want to address your concerns promptly.

I understand that [briefly summarize the issue]. Please allow me to investigate this matter further and provide a resolution. Our team is committed to ensuring a positive experience for all our clients, and I assure you that we take your feedback seriously.

In the meantime, if there’s anything else you’d like to share or if you have additional details, please feel free to reply to this email or call our customer support line at [phone number]. We value your business and want to make things right.

Thank you for your patience and understanding. We look forward to resolving this matter to your satisfaction.

Best regards,

[Your Name] [Your Title] [Company Name] [Contact Information]


More Detailed Prompt: “I need assistance drafting an email to address a recent service issue raised by a longstanding client. The client is unhappy with [add issue here] and has expressed frustration with our previous communications. I want to convey empathy, acknowledge their concerns, and propose a resolution that demonstrates our commitment to excellent customer service. Please provide suggestions for language that is both diplomatic and reassuring, while also addressing the specific concerns raised.”


Analysis: This prompt provides more information, specifying the context of the communication, the intended tone, and the desired content of the email. By including relevant details and articulating specific objectives, Copilot provides a much more tailored response this time:


Subject: Addressing Your Recent Service Issue

Dear [Client’s Name],

I hope this email finds you well. First and foremost, I want to express my sincere apologies for any inconvenience you’ve experienced. Your feedback is invaluable to us, and I appreciate your patience as we work to resolve this matter.

I understand that you’re unhappy with [specific issue raised]. Please allow me to address your concerns directly:


  1. Acknowledgment: We take your frustration seriously, and I apologize for any miscommunication or lapses in our previous interactions. Your satisfaction is our top priority.

  2. Investigation: Our team has thoroughly reviewed the situation, and I assure you that we are committed to finding a swift resolution. We value your longstanding partnership with us, and we want to make things right.

  3. Proposed Solution: To address [specific issue], we propose the following steps: [Describe the proposed solution or action plan]. [Include any relevant timelines or deadlines]. [Offer additional assistance or support].

  4. Going Forward: Moving ahead, we will enhance our communication processes to prevent similar issues in the future. Your feedback helps us improve, and we appreciate your patience as we implement necessary changes.


Please feel free to reach out to me directly at [your contact details] if you have any further questions or if there’s anything else you’d like to discuss. We value your trust in our services, and we are committed to restoring your confidence.


Thank you for your understanding, and I look forward to resolving this matter to your satisfaction.


Warm regards,

[Your Full Name] [Your Title] [Company Name] [Contact Information]


"Infuse your personality. If the generated content feels overly formal or doesn’t match your natural style, take the initiative to edit the text yourself. With practice, you'll learn how to effectively converse with AI and tailor the final text to suit your style."

Closing thoughts on the integration of AI and human expertise

In today’s rapidly changing environment, embracing AI is no longer just advantageous -- it’s essential.


If you’re a non-native English speaker looking to enhance your business communication or improve your English proficiency, integrating skilled use of AI tools with the guidance of a human trainer will enable you to refine your skills, navigate limitations, and develop text that truly reflects your unique voice.


Feel free to contact me for more information about courses and workshops. I look forward to connecting with you and finding the best training option for you and/or your team!



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