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I'm a non-native English speaker who sometimes teaches topics like programming and development practices but I haven't found a good way to express that in English.

"Teaching" and "educating" sound too school-like. The courses are for professionals, typically one or two days long.

"Mentoring" sounds like something longer, more continuous, not in lecture/exercise form.

"Lecturing" sounds boring and doesn't include the exercises part.

And the thing that I teach, is that a "course" or a "class"?

I sometimes use the expression "hold a course", but I've found no reference online where it is used for something other than navigation (often metaphorically) so I guess that's Swenglish.

What would be the conventional way to say this?

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You could say you provide instruction on programming and development practices. –  JLG May 22 '12 at 22:49
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5 Answers 5

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I think you are over-thinking it. The fact is-

you teach a class or a short course

A course generally refers to multiple sessions, while a class can be used for both single session and multiple sessions.

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Good point. I'll keep it simple. –  Martin Vilcans May 31 '12 at 12:21
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In the U.S. and probably Canada, if you arranged for a group of people to meet somewhere, where you would provide information or a point of view on a particular topic for educational purposes, the term "teaching a class" or "giving a lecture" would generally be appropriate. However, both of these terms do have the connotation of a sanctioned, official school function of some sort. You can throw in the word "informal" as an adjective to "class" or "lecture" to reduce this.

How about "leading a study group"? the connotation of "study group" is very informal and free-form, and thus even in "leading" it you are not assumed to have any official credentials as a "teacher"; it only has the implication that you are knowledgeable enough either about the topic or about studying in general to be an authority within the group. If you don't want to be thought of as having even that much power, you can say you're "hosting" the study group; this only has the connotation that you're helping the study group to happen by arranging for a venue.

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I would say "present a course" or "presenting a course".

"Facilitate" is another word, but I don't like it much.

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I like presents too, after presenting a good lecture. It has a nice ring to it. My favorite term is coach. Either pro bono or paid is fine.

The Thesaurus is your friend. Many other choices you may randomly use, depending if you want to sound professorial, pedagogical, didactical or avoid sounding pedantic. ;)

teach verb *examples*

  1. Alison teaches small children: educate, instruct, school, tutor, coach, train; enlighten, illuminate, verse, edify, indoctrinate; drill, discipline.
  2. I taught yoga: give lessons in, lecture in, be a teacher of; demonstrate, instill, inculcate.
  3. She taught me how to love: train, show, guide, instruct, explain to, demonstrate to.

I was at risk of sounding pedantic here, so my simple opinion is "coaching session". If you were sharing the podium, then call it a "learning session" such as a "Lunch & Learn Session", especially if you want to solicit experiences from attendees.

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Coach implies a long term relationship for performance improvement with one student or a team. The coaching relationship is not as structured as a formal course. In short, I don't think "coach" is right for the situation Martin described in the question. –  Concrete Gannet May 29 '12 at 4:04
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The environment you describe – that is, short courses aimed at helping professionals in the work environment – is often referred to as continuing education. Other variations on this wording include Professional Continuing Education (or PCE), and Continuing Higher Education.

With that in mind, you could say, "I teach a PCE course," or "I teach a continuing ed short course."


If you want, you can read through a Wikipedia article on the subject, to see if that term is a good fit for the courses you teach.

With the recent expansion of online learning, more and more traditional universities are entering into the PCE arena (like this one), and so the term is becoming more ubiquitous. There are even professional societies and journals in this area, such as UPCEA and the Journal for Continuing Higher Education.

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