It is the fourth term of the academic year 2016-2017 and this means that year one is nearly over. Since Nyenrode is a university with an international scope they make sure that the academic curriculum covers the English language well. At the start of the year Nyenrode provided a course that touched upon academic writing skills. Subsequently, to deal with the verbal side of the language and touch more upon the business & cultural aspects, we followed three terms of English classes with Victoria Laws from Taleninstituut Nederland. From these classes I learned two important lessons that are probably applicable to many Dutch-English speakers.
First, we Dutch-English speakers can occasionally come across as very direct and at times uninterested. Not because we are as such but because we tend not to express ourselves like the English do when speaking.
Secondly, the British enjoy small talk and flowery conversations! Therefore, it did not take long before we were given tips for more appropriate business communication and techniques on how to sound ‘more’ native as speakers. We had to practice talking about the weather and bus times in a more animated way, in order to grasp the idea of ‘small talk’ and how it should be done.
Our English classes consisted of numerous different activities every week. We did some roleplay, focussing on what type of language was appropriate for that specific role and becoming aware of how language choice can completely change how a conversation goes and how you come across. We practiced the use of intonation to stress certain points, pitching (business) ideas with little preparation and ‘on the spot’ thinking. As the cherry on the cake, we also made some attempt towards understanding British humour in order to gain a better idea about nuance in the English language. We did not always get it, but that is fine and it was great fun to do! However, like I mentioned before, the main purpose of the course was to develop our Business English. Other courses had already addressed writing skills and this course handled the verbal side so completed the whole package.
I always believed that the phrase ‘learning is fun’ was wrong. Becoming smarter is fun, however, the learning process itself is often frustrating. This was not the case with our English classes. English class was a nice way of winding down at the end of the week before going home. Mostly because English classes were always very diverse, low pressure but nonetheless very practical and useful. Hiring Taleninstituut Nederland, and with that Victoria Laws, was a great addition to our curriculum.
Nyenrode Business University
Paul van der Kwaak
Tutor: Victoria Laws
Foto’s: Kasteel Nijenrode
Fotograaf: Jeroen Docter