“Get more out of your corporate contacts”

From insecurity to confidence

What DNA Languages stands for and how we work together

We have all seen these students walk through the door. The ones who feel terribly insecure because they don’t speak the language. At work they don’t dare to speak for fear of being laughed at or thought stupid. They don’t take part in business meetings and avoid answering calls from abroad. They are afraid of how they come across and whether people will understand them.

When I was a child I moved from the area north of Amsterdam to Limburg in the south of the country where everyone speaks a dialect, which for an outsider is almost impossible to follow. This experience helped me understand first-hand what it’s like not to belong because you don’t understand the language.

Our students come to us because they want to learn to speak a language as quickly as possible. That’s not an easy feat. If a student only learns the grammar rules from a book or memorises lists of words they will never experience those moments of success they need to help them feel self-confident. Language is not learned from a book, it is learned by doing, by having those conversations that naturally occur in daily life and at work. It’s more important to be able to speak a language than to just know it.

The sooner students can apply the new language in their private lives or at work, the better it is for their motivation levels. It makes little sense for students to practice writing reports if they have a secretary who does it for them. If the course work is closely aligned to what can be directly applied at work, amazing results can be achieved in a short space of time. The trick is to really listen to what a student needs and when they need it, and work from there. In this way, we are actually working on their self-confidence. They need to experience the successes that help them learn and from which they gain the encouragement they need to continue.

This is precisely why it is so important to build up a warm relationship so that our students feel comfortable. It also helps them to maintain their language levels once the course is over, because in the end, that is what we are here for.

The challenge for the trainer is to constantly check with each student or group whether your approach suits their needs. Do they need this? Can they use this? What are they getting out of this? You shouldn’t always just reach for the off-the-shelf materials but find things that match the situation the student finds themselves in. Get to know your students, be flexible and find ways to teach them what they need. For the trainer, there is a candy store full of learning materials at your disposal. In one lesson you might play a business related game in the target language or you may have a discussion. In the next lesson you may go outside and interact with whatever you encounter out on the street, as students can learn so much by trying things out right away. Perhaps you can ask them to call the vehicle breakdown service. Or perhaps you can ask them to do something related to what they are working on at the moment. Try and do something unexpected as the bigger the surprise the greater the learning experience.

Learning becomes a much richer experience when you play with various assignments and challenges. The conversations are more fun and interesting and you find yourself learning something new too. Takes too much time? I think not. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, you can use existing material in a new way. Using material provided by the student also reduces the amount of preparation required. If you listen well and empathise with their situation, you’re already halfway there.

And the best things is, both you and your student immediately start seeing results. Your student experiences success and works on their personal development. They start to understand the language better and feel more comfortable. All of a sudden they start receiving compliments from their manager and colleagues about their amazing progress which makes them feel empowered. They feel more self-confident and have successful experiences with the language which makes them realise they can manage quite well. They no longer have to get their text checked by their colleagues and have more time for their actual work. But most importantly, they no longer feel like an outsider.

I recently worked with a gynaecologist from Estonia who had to be able to speak the language before she could start working in a Dutch hospital. For her that meant: collecting the patients from the waiting room, asking the right questions for the diagnosis and explaining what treatment was required. She hadn’t actually moved here yet, so I began her Dutch lessons via Skype. Because I was able to precisely meet her learning goals, she made excellent progress.


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Anneke Siemons - DNA LanguagesWe will gladly assist in selecting the correct language course for you. Please contact our language course consultant Anneke Siemons to receive customised personal advice without any obligations.



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