Home Ausbildung Technisches Englisch Hands-on training

Technisches Englisch (Teil 6)

Hands-on training

zu Teil 5: Electricity

Have you ever wondered why it’s so much easier to remember things we’ve not only read, heard or seen but that we’ve actually worked with? This is one of the benefits of hands-on training or learning by doing. Hands-on training means you get to use your hands and bodies to perform tasks. This training aims to make conditions as realistic as possible.

Another benefit of hands-on training is the opportunity for repeated practice. It doesn’t matter how much natural talent a worker has, he or she can still improve in a skill by practicing. Trainers also recognize that people have different learning styles. Auditory and visual learners may learn better by watching an expert trainer perform a task.

Kinesthetic learners do better when they can move around and perform activities. Hands-on training can meet the needs of these three styles because there are chances to watch and listen as well as performance tasks. When performance is required, learners can apply a skill. There is a huge increase in the amount of information that is retained by students who are given the opportunity to practice what they are learning in the form of hands-on training.

When students sit and listen passively in a lecture-style environment, they retain 20 percent of the information. When they are given the chance to practice what they have just learned, that percentage increases to 75 percent. There are certain situations, of course in which hands-on learning is the only way to teach something. For example, there is no use trying to teach a child to ride a bicycle in a traditional classroom – they need to get outside to try out a bike.

Many people argue that doing something is the best way to learn about it, rather than attempting to learn about it from a book. No matter how many books you read about cycling, you are still sure to fall off the first time you try! Furthermore, hands-on learning allows students to directly observe and understand what is happening. This is a particularly successful way to teach kinesthetic learners, who learn best by example. It is often hard to properly understand something you have never directly seen or experienced.

  • Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.

This is originally a Chinese proverb. The more the involvement, the more we learn and remember in the long run. At the end of our last dialogue between Jack and his niece, Lucy was pretty frustrated because she had no clue what her uncle was talking about, whereas Jack was very enthusiastic talking about his special field of work.

Jack: Oh sorry, Lucy, I got carried away a little bit, but let’s give it another try now. I will slowly explain and demonstrate to you how some of my tools work and then you can try them out.

Lucy: Oh, that’s great Uncle Jack, because I think that women can be just as good as men with certain tools. The problem is nobody ever takes the time to explain it to us. It’s the same with my Dad at home.

Jack:  Oh no, let’s not start this discussion now. Have a look what we’ve got here.

Lucy: Oh yeah, what’s this? Looks like a small computer. What do you use it for?

Jack:  Well, it’s a digital meter or a multimeter. There are different types of meters when you want to hunt down a problem in an electric circuit. You can measure current, voltage and resistance which you can read then on the LCD display. You simply turn the dial in the center to convert it from one kind of meter to another. Look, when I connect the two probes to this battery in order to test its voltage, I must set it as a voltmeter. As you can see multimeters are small, lightweight an battery operated, and they can test a wide variety of electronic components in many situations, making them indispensable tools for us  who need to test and repair electronic circuits. Some also test diodes and continuity. But many of us still prefer the old kind of meter with a pointer that sweeps back and forth on a dial. Moving-coil meters, as these things are known, are still widely used in all kinds of different equipment, from airplane cockpit instruments to sound-level meters in recording studios.

Lucy:  Didn’t think you would be so up-to-date with your tools, Uncle Jack, considering the drama with the new laptop. (chuckles) But what do you use this tool for and what is it called in English?

Jack:  This is a claw hammer. You might know this from home because it is mostly in any tool box as well as in any kitchen drawer. Hammers come in all shapes and sizes, but the claw hammer is a real handy item to have - with one­ tool you can pound nails into wood or use the claw end to remove them. But be careful with any type of hammer. Lots of people have to go to the doctor because they injured their thumbs and fingers and that’s pretty painful.

Lucy:  Why do most of your tools have such plastic or rubber-coated grip handles like the ones over there?

Jack:  Those are insulated tools. One of the most important aspects for me is to do my job professionally and most importantly, safely. And for that you need the right tools. Most standard hand tools don’t protect you from electric shock unless they are insulated. Simply wrapping the tools with electrical tape or using tools with a plastic grip is not safe enough for an electrician in case he makes contact with an energized source.

Lucy: Okay, I understand. Why do you have so many pliers, do you really need them all?

Jack: They are not all just pliers. This is a pair of wire strippers for example and those over there are pincers and metal cutters. As you can see, pliers are made in various shapes and sizes and for many uses. Some are used for gripping something round like a pipe or rod, some are used for twisting wires, and others are for a combination of tasks including cutting wire. Here you have needle-nose pliers. They are a little different. Look, they’re long and narrow, with pointy, curved or angled tips. Needle-nose pliers are made of steel, with insulated grip handles that you can easily grasp and also protect from electric shock. They are good for reaching into tight spots where regular pliers are too big. They can grip multiple wires and even pick up small screws. Some models have a cutting tool at the tip, especially for cutting wires and electrical work.

Lucy: I see, but can I try the power drill now. Do you have anything that I could do with it?

Jack: Hands off the drill, young lady. This is much too dangerous to handle before I’ve explained it to you. Come on, let’s take a break now. I have an appointment with a customer in half an hour anyway. We’ll continue our session in due course. So much for today. Let’s see whether Lucy can handle the power drill with her uncle’s help next time. Stay tuned!



  • this      Einzahl       diese/r/es      This tool is old.
  • these   Mehrzahl  diese                These screwdrivers are new.

We use this (singular) and these (plural) as pronouns to talk about people or things near us:

  • This book here is in French.
  • These nails I have are too long. Look.


  • that        Einzahl      jene/r/s    That knife is blunt.
  • those     Mehrzahl  jene            Those are Lucy´s CDs.

We use that (singular) and those (plural) to talk about things that are not near us:

  • That multimeter you have in your van doesn’t work.
  • Those rules over there are all broken.

English nouns in the plural

The plural form of most nouns is created simply by adding the letter »s«.

  •  girl = girls
  • window = windows

Nouns that end in »-ch, x, s, z« or »s«-like sounds, however, will require an »es« for the plural:

  •  box = boxes
  •  gas = gases
  •  bus = buses

Nouns that end in a vowel (Selbstlaute: a, e, i, o, u) + »y« take the letter »:

  •  boy = boys
  •  way = ways

Nouns that end in a consonant (Mitlaute) + » drop the y and take »ies«:

  •  secretary = secretaries
  •  lorry = lorries

A lot of nouns that end in »o« take es in the plural:

  •  potato = potatoes
  •  hero = heroes

Some nouns ending in »o« break the above rule and get »os« in the plural form:

  • kilo = kilos
  • memo = memos
  • photo = photos
  • video = videos

Plurals of nouns that end in » or »fe« usually change the »f« to a » and add » or »-es«.

  •  knife = knives
  •  leaf = leaves
  •  life = lives

There are several nouns that have irregular plural forms.

  • fish = fish man = men
  • foot = feet woman = women
  • tooth = teeth person = people
  • child = children mouse = mice

There are also nouns that only exist in the plural because they consist of two items like scissors (with two blades), trousers or jeans (for two legs), pliers, scales, metal cutters, headphones, goggles, glasses, spectacles, binoculars etc. These nouns are all used with plural verbs:

  • The scissors are on the table.

If you want to use them in the singular, you have to add »a pair of« and »… pairs of« if you want to count them:

  • Here is a pair of pliers.                       Hier ist eine Zange.
  • Two pairs of scissors are broken.   Zwei Scheren sind kaputt.

What’s this for?

To explain the function of tools or parts you can use the following phrases:

  • What do you need/use a multimeter for?
  • A multimeter is for testing electrical circuits.
  • A screwdriver is used for loosening or tightening screws.
  • The goggles are used to protect your eyes.
  • You use a hammer to knock in nails.
  • What tool do I need to join wire securely?
  • You need a soldering iron.

Vokabeltabelle 6 als PDF

zu Teil 7

Über die Autorin
Sabine Barz

English communication-skills trainer


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