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Ploughing across borders

John’s Company supplies tractor parts and he had been actively exporting to South America for some time before he came to the Language Centre.

“I have travelled extensively in Latin America for many years, usually relying on the customer to speak English. I had employed interpreters or used anyone I could, even taxi drivers and hotel employees, to assist me in meetings. Eventually, as my main customers spoke little or no English, I decided to make some effort to improve my ability in Spanish.”

John ‘phoned the Centre and arranged to discuss the possiblity of training with the Business Language Development Officer. He completed a Profile Questionnaire and a training needs analysis was carried out with an experienced tutor from South America. The results were clear. Here was a good communicator who already had acquired some effective techniques and a reasonable level of conversational Spanish. A proposal was compiled outlining the areas for development in order to build upon his competence.

"The thought of discussing my training with professionals involved in languages was daunting. I was self-taught and had therefore never been exposed to any official assessment of my abilities. However when I made the commitment my fears were allayed and it was a relief to know exactly my level of ability.”

He decided to undertake a module of training which targetted the language he needed. His tutor was aware of the culture in which he was working and was able to support him in acquiring the language relevant to his professional needs. The Spanish used in South America differs from mainland Castillan Spanish.

“The fact that Susi was from Latin America was of enormous help because my previous learning had left me with doubts which were quickly resolved. The tutor was focussed and able to direct my training to specific areas”

Since undertaking his business language training and raising his level John now maintains his Spanish in an Advanced level leisure class with Susi, but how have his skills affected his business?

“To a great extent my business is now dependent upon sales to Latin America and this is where my growth is planned. All my meetings are now conducted in Spanish. Frankly, the fact that I know the people concerned helps my confidence greatly. Even though meetings can last all day I am usually satisfied that we have fully understood one another. I can safely say that my training at the Univrsity has considerably advanced my ability to use the language to my advantage commercially. Also using my Spanish when travelling has given me so much pleasure”

After 80 hours of Business Language training John achieved an Open Studies Certificate at an advanced level. His tutor describes him as a model student who optimised his training by studying at home and taking every opportunity to speak.