We spoke to Josep Pont, a key account manager at Carglass in Barcelona to find out about his experience of English for Professional Communications at LSI/IH Portsmouth.
Case Study with an Automobile Industry Manager
Josep manages accounts with 9 international insurance providers and uses English regularly to negotiate the best price for his company’s products and services. Twice a year he attends a meeting with clients from across Europe where he is required to give a presentation in English about ongoing projects.
He was recommended the course at LSI/IH Portsmouth as his colleagues had studied here before and had spoken very highly of the school. When his boss suggested that he spend two weeks living and studying in England, he was keen to take the opportunity but was a little worried about being away from his young family for so long, he said:
‘I was hoping to improve my level of English so I knew it was a good opportunity. Originally I wanted to come for just a week but my boss said that 2 weeks would be better – I had some doubts, but now at the end of my course I can see it was the best choice.’
Executive Combination Course
LSI/IH Portsmouth’s most popular course for professionals is Executive Combination: in the morning one to one lessons allow students to focus on their personal areas for improvement and English grammar, in the afternoon they work in small groups of up to four and practise soft skills such as conferences and negotiation. For Josep the course at LSI/IH Portsmouth was unique because it was purely business English, whereas courses he’d studied before were more grammar focussed and book-based. He said:
‘For me the most important point is to focus on real business contexts ….I can use this exact experience in my job. It’s authentic. I did a role play with my teacher Ceri and we negotiated about buying products – this is a real situation and it’s useful for me.’
At LSI/IH Portsmouth, executive students can choose to have lunch with their peers and a teacher in the school’s ground-floor restaurant. This provides an excellent opportunity to practice communicating with people who have different levels of English in a relaxed and social setting. Josep found this way of learning really effective because your whole day is in English with no time to switch off he says: ‘It’s very intensive, but it works!’
In the run up to his trip, Josep was a bit apprehensive about staying with an English host family:
‘At the school the teachers speak really clearly. But living with a family, I was a bit worried, you know I don’t know these people, it’s possible that I wouldn’t understand them.’
But the reality was quite different…
‘They are a really friendly family and they looked after me so well. My host mother speaks really clearly, like a teacher. Her husband does speak very quickly but it’s fine for me. Sharing dinner together, talking about football for example, it’s a different kind of English. In school, you are learning, but in your host family it’s a different kind of conversation: different tenses, a different way of communicating. It’s more social. This is a good experience.’
As Portsmouth is a fairly small city, all LSI/IH Portsmouth’s host families are within walking distance. Josep lived in Southsea, an area of the city that is perfectly located to enjoy walks by the sea but still within easy reach of the city centre either on foot or by bus. We asked Josep about his impressions of Portsmouth:
‘I feel like I have got to know the city during my two-week stay: it’s really friendly here and it’s easy to get around. I’ve been running along the seafront and seen the old port. The weather has been perfect – in two weeks it’s only rained twice!’
His favourite thing about Portsmouth? The outlet shopping centre at Gunwharf Quays…
‘In Gunwharf, the shopping is great. I bought presents for my family there – I went to GAP three times in the same day! My wife kept sending me back to change a jumper I bought for my daughter! It’s very nice there, cheaper than in my country.’
When we asked Josep his favourite thing about studying here, he found it hard to choose:
‘All of it – school, city, accommodation. Especially the teachers. I get the feeling they really love their job. They always smile, nothing is a problem. They are passionate about their work.
I have enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere. The teachers are very friendly and the course is designed specifically with a business focus.
The classes are always interactive – it’s not just pick up the book and study.
In a one to one class, there’s no time to switch off, not even for a second, so it’s very intensive, but it’s effective.’
And most importantly, what would he say to someone thinking about studying at LSI/IH Portsmouth?
‘I absolutely recommend it. You will be able to improve your language. My experience has been very very, very good. It’s two weeks away from my family, it’s a long time, but it’s worth it. In Spain we don’t generally have a good level of English, we need to improve. LSI/IH Portsmouth is an excellent place to help you with this.’
Thank you Josep for telling us about your experience and thank you Hannah for conducting the interview.
To see the course that Josep followed please look here : English for Automobile Industry