• Welcome to the Plain Language Academies


    We created the PlainLanguageAcademies.com to help you create clear messages for people who need to access information, understand content, and act on messages. We also designed the courses on plain language principles: important for the reader, easy to understand, efficient to navigate, and effective to turn into actions. Our goal is to continue to expand our course content, languages, and global access.

    We love how our students from all over the world demonstrate skills, interact, and give us feedback about our online, self-directed, instructor-supported courses. Join us for a great learning experience. Enhance existing skills or gain new ones, with a fresh, client-centred approach. Enjoy the feeling of writing cleaner, clearer, more accessible communications.

    Our professional team of instructors are help as work through this online course. Advanced courses include a live session. Discussions connect you with other learners. Join our online learning community.

    Our mission

    We strive to keep our courses simple and satisfying.

    We endorse these practices:
    • Put the reader first to enhance accessibility.
    • Clarify the purpose to ensure expectations are met.
    • Actively listen to audiences and stakeholders to gain deeper understanding of their needs.
    • Follow guidelines and practices supported by research and experience.
    • Practice empathy, compassion, and respect for clients and readers.


    What's on offer

    The Academy offers self-directed, instructor-supported online plain language courses. They are divided into two groups: Core and Advanced.
    Core courses introduce learners to:
    C1 Plain Language Basics 
    C2 Audience Awareness 
    C3 Plain Language Writing and Editing. 

    Advanced courses are based on key topics in the field, such as
    A1 Create Clear E-content
    A2 Editing for Plainer Legal Writing
    A3 Plain Language 2.0 and Health Literacy
    A4 Science Supports Plain Language
    A5 Implementing Plain Language as a Strategic Priority
    A6 Focus on Feedback
    A7 Clear Design Practices
    A8 Plan Language Project Leadership
    A9 Editing for Plainer Technical Writing
    A11 Putting Clients First in Legal Writing

    We recommend you start with the courses that are most suited to your current tasks or future plans.

    Core Courses: $250 CAD
    Advanced Courses $275 CAD or USD.

    What languages can I learn in?

    We have Academies in Spanish (educlaro)French (clair et simple - coming soon), and are offering courses through the Plain Language Institute in South Africa. We want to be as inclusive as possible. If you have course ideas, know of or want to be an instructor with us, please email kate@plainlanguageacademy.com.

    Find out more and get course registration links on PlainLanguageAcademies.com.

    We look forward to working and learning with you.

    Kate
    PLA Director and Facilitator


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Putting Clients First in Legal Writing

Open start date. Choose what suits you.  $275 CAD

Best customer-service practice


This course is for lawyers and paralegals: changing attitudes, writing process, and writing style. 

Professionals in legal services must meet the needs of clients while maintaining competency in a common body of skills forming the fundamental elements of competent representation

This course provides a self-paced opportunity to explore the interpersonal and communication skills needed for better client management.

 Course Material

  • Readings are provided as links in each lesson.
  • Resource list to learn more about modern legal writing practices.
  • How to proceed through the course.
  • The course assignments must be completed within 8 weeks of your start date.

Editing for Plain Legal Writing

Jan 9 and Mar 6 $275 CAD

For writers with no legal training

This six-week course is for anyone who has to edit legal materials to be clear
and user-friendly, whether or not you have a legal background. You will learn:

  • why legal writing is the way it is 
  • how to consider the needs of your readers
  • how to organize a piece of legal writing to guide readers through it
  • how to deal with some common problems with legalese

You may practise your skills on an existing piece of legal writing or use an extract from a cell phone contract included with the course materials. I also provide a free text book from the course originator, Cheryl Stephens. 

This course gives a certificate of achievement after your assignments are completed and marked. 



Editing for Plainer Technical  Writing

Jan 16 and Mar 13 $275 CAD

For people who prepare technical information for non-technical readers

This six-week course is for anyone who prepare technical information for non-technical readers. You might write: 

  • correspondence to citizens about their water quality 
  • reports to elected officials about development projects 
  • user manuals for customers with new electronics

You will learn to assess your audience and their information needs and to edit a technical document so that they can find the information they need, understand what they find and use that information quickly.

This course gives a certificate of achievement after your assignments are completed and marked. 


Implementing Plain Language as a Strategic Priority
Next course starts April 17, 2023. Limited enrolment. 

Sarah Slabbert and Nadja Green, Plain Language Institute, South Africa will lead you through Implementing Plain Language as a Strategic Priority.

The focus of Plain Language actions is often on specific documents or pieces of communication. Implementing Plain Language in a systematic manner in an organization is, however, a different challenge for executives, compliance officers, communication managers or customer relations.

This course will empower you to make your organization truly customer- or citizen-centred. It comprises 6 modules:

  1. A framework for implementing Plain Language as a strategic priority
  2. Getting leadership buy-in for Plain Language
  3. Developing a business plan for Plain Language
  4. Establishing a Plain Language process
  5. Creating sustainable excitement for Plain Language
  6. Monitoring and showcasing return on investment

The course runs online for 12 weeks. Once you have completed the course and the assignments to the satisfaction of the instructors, you will receive a Plain Language Certificate of completion.


Focus on Feedback

Register now. October 24. $275.00 CAD

Focus on Feedback provides guidance in understanding and applying this important component of the plain language process. Plain language requires that the reader be consulted in order to achieve successful communication. Through readability and user testing you learn whether the intended message has been expressed clearly for your audience. We provide explanations of practices giving you the opportunity to put them to work.


Creating Clear E-content

Open registration. Join anytime. $275 CAD

Online e-content, whether for websites, social media or electronic communications (emails, texts), is now part of our daily communications. We need to adapt our writing style to these platforms and their users. Plain language puts readers first and online readers have specific characteristics. Knowing how to write clear, concise, effective online content for readers and platforms will help you connect effectively. Integrating plain language practices into your online content development is important to succeed. It's all about online conversations.


Clear Digital Design

Course February 20, 2023.  $275 CAD

Goals: This course will expand your knowledge in plain language and digital design and increase your skills in using and applying digital design practices. Once you have completed it, you will be able to: 

·      identify the audience and purpose of your digital communication;

·      objectively assess digital design;

·      advise on or apply your skills to improve digital design; and

·      work with web designers to make online content more accessible.

Course Profile :

Communication is in plain language when language, structure, and design work in harmony to help the reader find what they need, understand it, and use it. And these days, much of our communication takes place online. This course will help plain language practitioners, editors and members of design teams broaden their understanding of the design challenges of the online environment and how to overcome them by applying design thinking. You’ll gain the tools you need to not only work on the text of plain language communication, but critically analyse and give advice on digital design, and work with web designers to ensure that users get the best digital experience. 

Instructors: 

Annie Burger and Liezl van Zyl



Plain Language 2.0 and Health Literacy

Offered in English and Spanish 
Feb 27 $275 USD

Register at Educlaro.moodlecloud.com

romina@languagecompass.com.

Romina Marazzato Sparano is now teaching this course in English as well as in Spanish on Educlaro.moodlecloud.com. She is also creating new plain language courses on her sister site to Plain Language Academy. If you have any questions, simply email romina@languagecompass.com. Thank you for joining us.

In this course, we will explore the intersection between health literacy and plain language to promote successful health communication. Health literacy is defined as the ability to find, understand, and process information to make healthcare decisions. Plain language has a vital role to play in fostering access, understanding, and usability of health information.

Plain Language Project Leadership

Register. April 16. $275 CAD

Plain Language Project Leadership encompasses the whole plain language process, focusing on a project client document. This course lets you to practice leading a complete a project with guidance, feedback, and support.  You will develop a project plan, content, and a report.

Benefits 

  • opportunity to put together all your knowledge and skills on one project 
  • enhance your experience in audience awareness and document testing 
  • create a working template for future plain language projects.  

Topics covered:

  • Complete a planning document
  • Proposal to client
  • Quiz yourself on your leadership skills
  • Taking care of yourself while leading others
  • Create a definition of plain language that you are comfortable using.
  • Create a template for your Project Work Plan and Style Sheet
  • Audience Analysis with identification 
  • Create  a reader persona
  • Mid-Project Report
  • Demonstrate three clear design techniques 
  • Create a project stylesheet with before and after examples
  • Modify the PLA Plain Language Checklist  for your own use
  • Develop a testing plan 
  • Discussion forum on user-ease and dealing with feedback
  • Write a memo to client as your proposal and report
  • Finalize your project plan, report to client, and sample revision
We'll find a project for you to work on if you don't have one.

Science Supports Plain Language 

Open registration. Choose the date that works for you. $275 CAD 

Instructor: Cheryl Stephens, cherylstephens.com

Research shows the less work audiences need to put into reading, the more they will find sources credible, and the better they will connect with the messages. You will learn the most up-to-date techniques, drawn from neuroscience, linguistics, and cognitive psychology. We'll explore how to make the reader's work easier and fluent.

You will be introduced to best practices in:

  • the three-stage reading process of the brain
  • improving recall to ensure learning and retention
  • content frameworks that help readers 
  • making connections for continuity and comprehension 
  • roles of priming and recency
  • inferences and predictions as essential brain processes

Topics covered:

You can proceed at your own pace. You schedule a 1 hour Zoom session with the course facilitator. We expect you to take 4 to 6 weeks to complete. 


Course open to enrolment.

Note: The Core courses are required as part of your Letter of Achievement.  C1 Plain Language Basics, C2 Audience Awareness, and C3 Plain Language Writing and Editing are bundled for a discount of 15% ($115 rebate) when you register and pay for all three at the same time. 

1. Create your account.

2. Register and pay for each course individually.

3. Receive your refund.

We start the plain language journey with a look at what it is, how it works, why it is so important. This course aims to give you a basic knowledge of plain language as a practice.

Understanding the plain language process and practice will help you apply new skills and promote this important component of information development designed to give readers what they need, that they can easily navigate, and is usable. With an ISO standard for plain language in the works, knowing and applying this practice is taking on stronger significance. 

The course is supported by information, discussions, readings, helpful links, assignments, a quiz and feedback.

Open for registration.

Many people find it challenging to clearly describe their audience's unique needs, interests, and preferences. This module shares information on the role audience awareness plays in creating plain language content—and how important it is. You will learn ways to understand your audience, their needs, and how best to connect and communicate with them. Information on how to integrate them into the plain language process is presented.

Open for registration.

Plain Language Writing and Editing follows on from Plain Language Basics and Audience Awareness in the plain language process. Now it's time to strengthen planning, writing and editing skills with plain language guidelines, reader feedback and checklists.

The creative process can sometimes lead to confusing messages, based on the volume of, presentation of, and organization of information. As writers, we can also get caught up in the process and forget about our audience. The plain language planning process, writing techniques, and editing strategies will help you deliver a clear message your audience wants and can understand.


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