Hoooked on Portugal

12 July 2018
door Regina Coeli

When Dutch entrepreneur Geesje Mosies taught herself Portuguese as a teenager, she could never have guessed that she would be using the language in the future when managing her Portuguese staff. Nor could she have predicted that she would unleash a knitting and crocheting rage when she learned to crochet out of curiosity in Brazil. She came up with the brilliant idea of using residual products from the clothing industry for crocheting, her company Hoooked was born and Zpagetti—recycled textile yarn—became a huge success.

The fact that she already spoke Portuguese made it easier for Geesje to start up a production company in Minde, Portugal. This year, she decided to update her Portuguese knowledge at Language Institute Regina Coeli. “It’s important that someone corrects my Portuguese. My employees don’t and I wanted to improve my language skills.”

Using the language more consciously

She followed a five-day training course at Regina Coeli and after a short break, another two days. “I’ve travelled a lot since my five-day training, but unfortunately, I’ve spent little time in Portugal. I did, however, hear from my employees that I’m more aware of the language and making fewer mistakes.”

Portuguese refresher days

Her refresher days started with a short review, and then she continued by working on a complex grammatical subject, the conjunctivo, with her language trainers. “This tense is important in order to read between the lines when Portuguese people communicate, particularly in formal documents. In Portugal, people communicate much more indirectly than in the Netherlands.”

Need for context

There is a big difference between the Netherlands and Portugal when it comes to culture. “The Portuguese like a lot of context. You should never call someone and get right down to business. You first need to ask how their family is doing and so on. In addition, you should definitely make use of your existing network. If you enter into a conversation without first being introduced by a friend, you probably won’t get anywhere. Relationships are extremely important. Another difference is that the Portuguese are very hierarchical, and they like it that way. It’s clear who the boss is. I like it, too,” she says with a smile.

Empathising with the Portuguese

With her wealth of experience in Portugal and the Netherlands, she now helps other entrepreneurs do business across borders. Geesje is a board member of the Dutch Portuguese Chamber of Commerce. In this role, she helps Portuguese companies which want to do business in the Netherlands, and vice versa. “I really enjoy doing that. It’s interesting to find out more about other companies and sectors. I can empathise with the Portuguese and understand how they think.”

In the meantime, she has left her heart in Portugal. “I like being there because the vibe is positive and the quality of life is very high. They take a lot more time for so many things, including lunch and dinner.” And that, of course, is the best breeding ground for further development of foreign language skills. Thanks to her intensive training course in which she very consciously used the language, she is now able to put her new knowledge to use until it becomes second nature.

Boa sorte!

Boa sorte!

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