How “Plain Language” landed me a trip to Guyana

A few years ago, I enrolled in a workshop on Plain Language. I had no idea what Plain Language was and my curiosity got the best of me. Little did I know that the content in that workshop would land me 2 week assignment in Guyana with CESO

CESO is a Canadian organization that sends senior-level professionals from the public and private sector who are passionate about sharing their skills and expertise in different countries around the world. When I saw the request for a trainer to teach report writing and presentation skills, I was intrigued. (I was in Guyana 20 years ago and was interested in both the project, and returning to the country). I was very excited when I was chosen for this assignment.

The training assignment was for three different groups at the CARICOM Secretariat in Georgetown, Guyana who are responsible for writing reports, briefs and/or speeches. I introduced Plain Language and it was very well received. Many staff expressed their desire to write concisely as reports are long and time-consuming. Senior staff who receive briefs also indicated that they needed concise information in a few pages (4–5 pages) and not long-winded documents numbering 10–15 pages!

What is Plain Language?

Plain language focuses on ways of writing a text so that it is clear, concise, pertinent, efficient, and flows well for the reader. A document, web site or other information is in plain language if the target audience can read it, understand what they read, and confidently act on it. People are busy and do not want to waste time “translating” difficult, wordy documents. Plain-language writing saves time.

Who uses Plain Language?

Plain Language has been adopted by the Canadian and US governments. Australia, Mexico, Sweden, Portugal, and the EU all use Plain Language. Non-governmental organizations such as the FAO and UN use Plain Language as well.

I am now considering enrolling in a 12 week online course in Clear Writing (Plain Language) This training helps people to be recognized as a Clear Writing Editor, Facilitator or Consultant. I have been asked to facilitate other Plain Language training in the region so adding this credential is important.

Simon Fraser University in B.C., Canada also offers a Certificate

If you are interested in learning more about Plain Language, here are some additional links.

I would be interested in your views or experience related to Plain Language. Thanks for reading. Patrice

Patrice Palmer, M.Ed., M.A., TESL has 20 years’ experience as an ESL Teacher, TESL Trainer, and Curriculum Writer in Canada including 7 years in Hong Kong. Patrice has taught students from 8 to 80 years in a variety of programs. Patrice now works as a teacherpreneur doing the things that she loves such as writing courses, sharing teaching materials, instructional coaching and travelling at any time of the year to conduct short-term training around the world. Please visit for free teaching resources.

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