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Coaching Tips: Coaching a Client in their Second Language by Tina Stoltzfus-Horst

May 10th, 2010 | By | Category: Missions Coaching - Guest Posts

Because the missions world is changing, those of us who coach missionaries are increasingly coaching clients from countries other than our own.  Cross cultural coaching is complex and takes skill and experience; working with clients in languages other than their native tongue brings further challenges.

What are some things to remember when coaching clients in their second or third (or fourth…) language?

First, the quality of the skype connection becomes even more important.  If the client speaks with an accent or uses grammar and sentence construction that differs from standard English, it becomes vitally important to be able to hear well, and to minimize static, delays, echos, etc.  Reschedule when you need to ; use a webcam if possible to catch nonverbals.

Second, recognize that when a client’s English is not excellent, it will take longer to do the session, because you may have to ask for clarification more often and summarize frequently in order to make sure you are catching their ideas fully.  Schedule plenty of time!

Third, be prayed up and well rested.  Some of the most stressful coaching sessions I’ve had were not due to content, but simply due to the strain of listening intently and trying to connect with what the client was communicating.

Fourth, don’t over react to red flags that have to do with wording.  The client may have incorrectly picked a word in English that they think has a certain nuance or meaning, when actually it conveys something that puts you on alert!  Use great coaching technique and ASK what the client means.

Fifth, here is a great tip from a recent trainee, Nancy H:  When the client is experiencing strong emotion and cannot find the right words, ask them to tell the story or express their feelings out loud in their native language and then summarize for you in English.

Coaching clients from other cultures is exciting and stimulating work which has pushed the edges of my comfort zone many times.  I encourage you to take the challenge and serve a non-Western missionary.  Its a rich learning experience you will not want to miss!


Tina Stoltzfus Horst is the Founder and Executive Director of Coaching Mission International. To learn more about Tina, or about getting started in missions coaching, go to: – or contact her directly at:

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One Response to “Coaching Tips: Coaching a Client in their Second Language by Tina Stoltzfus-Horst”

  1. toshiaizawa says:

    I am still preparing myself to offer this kind of coaching, but I am sure it will help my preparation. And it is a very nice follow up to Tina’s “Cross Cultural Coaching” page of “Coaching Question” book. So thank you.

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