Sharpen your saw

door Regina Coeli

Language is the most important tool we have for communicating. Without it, we cannot express how we feel, what we want and who we are. You may recognise that feeling when you suddenly have to explain something in Dutch, German or French, noticing the frustration bubbling up as you search for the right words.

If language is our most important tool, then it pays to make sure it works well. ‘Sharpen your saw,’ Stephen Covey says in his book ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’. By this, he means that you need to take time to improve yourself so you can be more effective.

How fluent are you in a foreign language?

What’s great is that language skills continue to develop naturally through communication. Your skills in your mother tongue are the result of years of practising, being corrected, playing with the language, reading and speaking to others, right up to this day. And that’s how it goes with foreign languages as well.

Perhaps you’ve said or thought to yourself, ‘I can manage quite well in English.’ If you learned English a long time ago and have used the language very little since then, then you may remember the basics and be able to make yourself understood. But can you explain things easily, write an email or read a business report? That’s a bit more difficult—let alone being able to express your opinion precisely or explaining an idea clearly. In those moments, you might even feel like a child struggling to find the right words. That can be tough when you need English, German, French or another language for your job!

If any of that sounds familiar, you may be coming up short in the language department on some points:

  • You use standard vocabulary and sentences. You’re not able to put much personality into what you say.
  • It takes a while to find the right words.
  • You don’t know the right words. While you learned the words you needed for school, you haven’t yet learned to talk business or about things that matter to you now.
  • You may remember the grammar, but using it correctly while speaking is a challenge.
  • The language has changed over time. Because you haven’t been working on it, you’re a little behind the times. It’s like a friend you haven’t seen in twenty years—you need a bit of time to catch up.

That’s when it pays to invest in language learning! By speaking a language better, you can do your job better, find a new job, move up the corporate ladder or simply forge better relationships with people who speak that language.

The good news

You may be thinking: ‘I don’t have years to catch up.’ Well then, we have good news:

  1. Learning a foreign language goes faster than learning your mother tongue.
  2. The right method activates the knowledge you already have.
  3. You don’t need to know every word in the dictionary and all the grammar. If you learn exactly what you need to, you’ll be headed straight to your goal and achieve it faster.

We can help you to bring your language skills up to par quickly so that saw of yours is sharp again in no time. Simply get in touch with us!


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