I think, we all started with Disney cartoons. The question remains: what do we watch next in order to get our English more fit for the next challenge, be it a semester abroad or a career start in a new country? I collected some ideas, which series and long films one can enjoy WITHOUT subtitles during the Christmas break depending on your English level:
Beginners: Disney films, Vampire Diaries, Friends, Desperate Housewives, Smallville
Pre-Intermediate: How I met your Mother, Charmed, Big Bang Theory, Supernatural, Doctor Who, Sherlock, Lost, Merlin
Intermediate: Project Runway, all old series (like Agatha Christie’s Poirot), Gossip Girl, try Lord of the Rings, Outlander, The Last Kingdom, Secret Diary of a Call Girl (yeah, its here because I find her accent a bit difficult)
Advanced: House of Cards, Game of the Thrones
And make sure you skip subtitles to go deeper into the language jungle 😉
If you are new in a company, many things can go wrong. Adapting yourself in an international company in another country may be easier than fighting with the language barrier in a small local SME, but still a challenge. If you found yourself away from home in an international giant, here are some basic tips:
- Manage to eat: Eat with everybody what they all eat, where they all eat, when they all eat. Eating is one of the most ancient ways of getting closer to people. Your tasks are not your first priority – you REALLY should eat the way your colleagues do.
- Manage to participate: Meetings are a necessity for your job, but clubs are the necessity to keep your job. If your colleagues do anything in their spare time, be it yoga, evening cocktails or even sailing, do yourself a favour and participate. The social game is the next most important ancient way of becoming a part of a group.
- Manage to talk: Personally, I feel like an idiot when people are discussing football. I have neither love nor interest for football. I will be by no means able to support a conversation on this topic – but surely can ask 1-2 questions to be polite and show my respect to the interests of my colleagues.
- Manage to avoid: Topics related to politics, critics of behaviours and cultures, personal life details, religion, talking about other colleagues. Many people know that those topics are taboo, but I still hear them every week.
- Manage to observe: How people are interacting with each other. How are they reacting, responding, working, greeting others and asking about favours. It might be very different from what you are used to.
- Manage to explain: Feel free to explain, why you do things differently. Feel free to tell that you don’t eat pork or should wear a head scarf all the time. Every normal international company should show acceptance to the basics.
Nobody is perfect – neither are your foreign language skills. However, many of us working for a foreign company or even in a foreign country had problems with grammar mistakes in our emails, official documents, presentations etc. How to deal with them with grace – and how to avoid grammar mistakes while working in a foreign language? I am not going to give you advices like “use the grammar tool X” or “read twice before you send it”. Let us to be honest – many tools will correct obvious mistakes, but none will look into your head and rewrite your sentence in a way you wanted it to be. So, how will we proceed?
- 4-eyes rule
This is a simple rule meaning that at least one colleague should check every important document you are sending out. This rule is obligatory for audit companies and very popular among consulting companies – but it can be applied everywhere. Just find a colleague who needs a grammar check himself from time to time and ask if he could proofread your email. In small teams, the team leader is often the one doing this job. Please note that reading important documents, which have an impact on the company’s image is not the same as reading somebody’s homework at school – if you made a mistake, it is much easier to correct it while proofreading than to correct the consequences of a badly written email. Don’t be shy to ask somebody to proofread your work – this is a part of the work like any other.
- Better in than out
One can describe Consulting as a sphere of business, which grew up on the limited office space and active networking. In other words, Consulting companies sell competencies of their employees and spare office space by putting those employees in clients’ companies.
How is a consulting different from the industry? You will be the most important asset of the company, and your boss – an asset manager. If the asset manager is good, any asset will bring profit to the company – therefore, look for the companies, which generate good profits, pay well and where people are promoted and can benefit from additional education and certification opportunities.
For this article, I will concentrate my attention on such countries as China, Germany, Denmark, Spain and, yes, Russia. I work with many expats from different countries from all levels and many industries, therefore I understand the consequences of coming to another country without knowing the local language. Can one come to a country with a 0 to A2 level of the local language and feel comfortable at work? In the everyday life? Let us have a look at it.