26 Feb 2017
Why Language and Communications Training?

I have a confession to make: I am still not as effective at speaking German (let alone at writing in German) as I would like to be, even after many years of living in Austria. My normal excuse is that German is the fourth language I started to study relatively late in life.


Yes, we, as active professionals, invest a great deal of time and money in the constant improvement of our business communication skills. We must use a great deal of communicative competence to translate this training into action. Understandably, our challenge is even greater when we have to do this in a foreign language, which may often make us feel less effective than in our mother tongue.

It should be obvious to us by now that our ability to communicate effectively in a foreign language can spell the difference between success or failure in our careers. Ineffective communication leads to dead-end jobs, lost sales, missed promotions and countless overlooked opportunities at an international level.

For this reason, I believe that it is essential to be actively involved in a form of training that combines both foreign language AND communications skills.


As I was discussing this dual approach to language training with the head of human resources of a big paper production factory in Austria, he could not hide his frustration when he said: “I am tired of hearing that all my staff has a good level of English, but nobody wants to answer the phone whenever someone calls our company and speaks only English. If a foreign delegation comes to visit our facilities, no one volunteers to conduct the tour.”

Yes, it is commendable to hand in our impressive CV supported by a Cambridge certificate to a potential employer, but what he or she really wants to know is whether we will be able to perform concrete tasks with the language on behalf of the company. Can we set up an appointment, make an effective presentation for products and services, write a report or participate actively in a meeting using a foreign language?

These are usually the standard oral communication skills we are required to master in a business or professional setting:

  • Presentations
  • Negotiations
  • Meetings
  • Telephoning
  • Socializing

How can we develop our language and communication skills?

First of all, it is advisable to have at least a B2 level of general language competence. Otherwise, avoidable linguistic limitations will hinder performance.


These are my suggestions regarding what you should do as participant in this type of training:

  • Participate in a practical, individualized and hands-on workshop, not a purely theoretical seminar.
  • Look for opportunities when you can review useful language phrases and use communication skills in a specialized context and in authentic situations.
  • Be exposed to both good and bad versions of communication skills to be presented for analysis and discussion. Observe the most common mistakes made and learn positive models to follow.
  • Don´t be afraid of the video camera. Some of your communication tasks should be recorded and carefully analyzed providing you direct and positive feedback of your performance.

After you have tried out your communication skills in a safe classroom environment, look actively for new possibilities when you can use your target language in real work situations.

Responding to this need, language institute i-diom has been successfully conducting language and communications training for many years. Find out more!

How do you develop your language and communication skills?


About the author: Carlos Aleson is the director of i-diom, an institute specialized in language and communications training in Austria.