[Podcast] Why Should YOU Practice Conversations In English?

Recently, one of my ‘Sales Pitch workshop’ customers made a comment that made me think ‘This can really have a long-term effect’. As well as sales Pitch training, I’ve also been meeting people for regular English Conversation coaching for a few years, so I thought I’d share a few examples of how they have benefited from this.

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The International Business from Finland theme music was devised and created by Dodobones www.dodobones.co.uk

The Lasting Effects of a Sales Pitch Workshop

First of all, thank you to Susanna for inspiring this episode. We were recently having a video call planning some work and she said:

The Sales Pitch workshop with you had a real effect. Since then, something changed in me. I used to be really nervous about my English language skills but, nowadays, when I see one of my international partners is calling me I am excited that I get to practice a little more. Then we spend an hour or so chatting.

Susanna Myllymäki, MoreJoy

That Sales Pitch workshop, organised via Xport, was three years ago. We made a presentation for Susanna to use at trade shows, so it incorporated talking about the MoreJoy product collection while walking around their stand. At the time, I had no idea that Susanna was nervous about using English – it did not show – but I was really pleased to hear her say it.

Particularly in the Etelä-Pohjanmaa region, there are many people who have learned English at school, but whose career has then been based in this region. Until very recently, there has been little need to use English in a day-to-day work situation. That is starting to change and people in high positions in local organisations are seeing te need to improve their spoken English. Whether this is for international sales, internal corporate relationships or to improve career opportunities, as business becomes more global.

Preparing for New Owners

Matti was one of the first people to approach me about English Conversation coaching, after his wife suggested me – thanks Marja! At that time, his company was expecting new ownership from overseas and Matti wanted to improve his spoken English, so he could communicate better with his new managers. We did this for a year, learning words specific to the industry he was working in and even put together a company presentation that he could deliver in English.

Once the company takeover was complete, Matti moved-on and our sessions temporarily stopped. He soon had a new job, this time a role that included international customers from many countries. Although he was now confident speaking English, we started meeting again once a month. We talk about his industry, everyday life and even MY business. In fact, I think my combination of business experience and native-English language, is what keeps these regular meeting interesting and useful for Matti.

Practising To Develop Greater Confidence

Tiina was another person I met due to an introduction from a mutual friend – thanks Tytti! Although English wasn’t strictly necessary in her work, Tiina wanted to feel more confident using English as her career progressed. For a few years now, we’ve met on a weekly basis for 30 mins and talked. We talk about work, family, football (specifically, SJK Seinäjoki!) and how society in Helsinki and Seinäjoki is coping with COVID restrictions. It’s impossible to share so much and not become friends, so it was great to be joined by Tiina (and Tytti) at the wedding party when Satu and I got married last year.

My Personal Experience of Finnish Conversation

You’ll remember in episode 15 I committed to “Becoming A Finn: Applying For Finnish Citizenship“. When I devised my study plan to pass the YKI language test, practising spoken Finnish was a core part of this. Luckily, my wife Satu has a friend, Riikka, who also wanted to improve her English.

So we decided to start meeting once a week for Fin-glish conversation, where we spend about an hour, partly talking English, then switching and talking Finnish. It gives both of us a safe space to speak without fear of making mistakes, take our time to find a way to communicate and where we can learn from each other. And from our own mistakes!

This is very similar to the FinTandem concept that I experienced in Kansalaisopisto, and I would recommend this course to anyone wanting to improve their spoken language skills. After just a few meetings with Riikka, I could already feel myself becoming more confident and my spoken Finnish would just start more naturally than before. This is the same effect I observed with my English Conversation partners.

I just wanted to give a mention to my friend Julian, who publishes his Thursday Tips articles every week on LinkedIn. It’s a really entertaining read, in bite-size articles, that expose the differences between Finnish and English and highlights those small mistakes that EVERYONE makes from time-to-time. Keep it up Jules.

So what do you think? How is your work affected by your English skills? Do you have any funny incidents, a bit like Julian’s? Use the button below to reach out and let me know, maybe I’ll include some examples in a later episode.

And Juha, if you’re reading, you know who you are. When are we going to re-start YOUR English Conversation sessions? 😉


If you want to contact me for advice, with comments or to see how I can help your business, use the button below to reach out:

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