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Why you should write training materials in plain English

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By James Tennant, Dip. T, B.Ed, Grad. Dip Ed, (TESOL), M.A. (TESOL).

People writing training materials in Australia should write in plain English. Australia has many people who speak English as a second language and some native speakers have lower levels of English literacy. To use an analogy, let’s say this group of people have a vocabulary of 1000 words. Let’s say a highly educated native speaker has a vocabulary of 2000 words. If we write our training materials using a vocabulary of the 2000 words the first group will not understand many of the words we use. We have to write using the vocabulary of 1000 words so that everyone will understand.

Another way to put this is to ‘write how you speak’. We don’t use formal, academic words when we are speaking. When you are writing training materials ask yourself, “Would I use those words if I were speaking to someone?” If not, don’t use them. This is a simple tip that will make it much easier to write in plain English.