As co-owner of FAIT ICI
, a boutique shop in Montreal, I am sometimes offered French language media opportunities.
While I speak French well, it’s not my first language. But because the business mustn’t lose out on the exposure provided by media coverage, the second language thing cannot be a deterrent.
So, what do you do, if you aren’t “perfect” (whatever that means) in a language but do not want to pass up the chance to do a media interview?
The answer is about honest self-assessment and prep.
Here are four tips for preparing for second language media interviews:
1. Know your level of linguistic mastery.
Whether you’re ready do to an interview in a language other than your mother tongue begins with knowing, precisely, where you stand with that language. Be honest with yourself, are you good enough to do a live spot or is a more forgiving pre-taped format the only way to go?
2. Know your media outlet, host, and show. The interview I did last week was on a fairly light-hearted TV show.
As a result, the level of language was relatively basic. More complex, headier subject matter—the kind one gets on NPR or Radio-Canada—usually requires better command of language. Knowing about the outlet, show, and host will help you discern the level of language required.
3. Knowledge about the subject of a piece is even more important in a second language interview.
The more you know about what an interviewer is going to ask about, the better prepped your answers—and language—can be. Make sure you ask lots of questions about the topics a journalist wants to cover.
4. Let the media know about your (or your spokesperson’s) level of proficiency.
This is very
important. Being upfront about it creates a rapport with a journalist or outlet and also manages expectations. Letting the media know about where you stand helps them prepare and makes the process smoother for everyone.
If you prepare, and are honest with yourself and the media about your linguistic proficiency, then relax
—all will be well. The calmer you are the better it will go.
A version of this story first appeared on Proper Propaganda.