I can’t remember ever visiting (or even noticing) a nail salon in the UK, but there seem to be lots in the US. It took me several years to venture into one and then several years to go back, because the smell of the chemicals is powerful. But now painted toenails are a sign that summer’s on its way in our house. (I like wearing flip flops.)
The salons are generally staffed by immigrants. I’ve often wondered about their backgrounds and lives and some have answered my questions and chatted a little, but mostly they don’t. Many seem to have very limited English, although some have lived here for many years.
So I was intrigued when one of my students on an MA TESOL course chose Nail Salon workers for a needs analysis project. It was a tough assignment because the technicians didn’t want to talk to her – I’ll let you read why. But the results were fascinating and she’s very kindly agreed to let me publish them here.
So I’m delighted to share ‘English for Nail Technicians in New York’ by Connie Sargent:
Some things that struck me in particular were:
- [The ESP need to] Teach American ideas of relaxation and indulgence
- [That] Interaction is made more complicated by physical contact
- Every [customer] interview referred to a fear that nail technicians are talking about them to other nail technicians
Did you find anything striking too?