Learning on the work floor
At Unilin Group we believe in people: in their potential and values that dovetail with the DNA of our company (passion, entrepreneurship, excellence and respect). The rest we can train. That is why we like to give everyone the opportunity to develop their skills through in-house training courses. Language mustn’t be an obstacle in this regard and that is why we offer our non-native speakers a language immersion programme and personal language coaching to help with their Dutch. These colleagues were happy to share their experiences.
Ramona Angheru (40) - “My colleagues insist that I speak Dutch and that helps tremendously!”
Since last October Ramona operates the press machine at Unilin Group. The Hungaro-Romanian machine operator had been living in Belgium for nearly 6 years but her Dutch skills were not up to par yet. “When I arrived in Belgium I enrolled in night school but the combination with work got to be too difficult after a while. In the companies where I worked for Unilin Group I would speak English with my colleagues because it was more convenient. I speak five languages but Dutch is the hardest to learn. What’s more, many people here speak their local dialect (laughs). But I do my best, with the help of my colleagues who insist that I speak Dutch and our language trainer Nathalie. Nathalie is a very positive person who constantly motivates us. She listens when we indicate it’s too much or if she’s going too fast.”
Now that her Dutch has improved considerably Ramona has had the chance to get to know her colleagues much better. She concludes enthusiastically: “I feel really at home with my colleagues and in Unilin Group. They welcomed me with open arms. Unilin Group is the company for me. I want to work here until I retire (roars with laughter).”
Ahmed Taiba (34): “I’m starting to understand the language, slowly but surely. I’m making progress every day.”
Ahmed came to Belgium from Syria some two years ago. After stints in Namur and Brussels he moved to Waregem some 18 months ago. Last year he joined Unilin Flooring’s press department, where he works as a quality controller. “When I started here I didn’t speak a word of Dutch. I did speak Arabic, my mother tongue, Turkish and English. That’s why I took Nathalie’s language immersion course because I need Dutch to be able do my job properly. Three weeks was short, three months would have been better (laughs) so now I practise as much as I can. Dutch is the language of communication on the work floor. My colleagues always speak to me in Dutch, partly because they don’t speak English (laughs). They speak Dutch with a West Flemish accent but little by little I’m getting to understand it. I’m making progress every day. I need time to learn new words because I find it a very difficult language to pronounce. There are no similarities whatsoever between Dutch and my mother tongue.”
Twice a week after hours Ahmed takes Dutch evening classes for adults. “I want to obtain my master’s degree in accounting from the university of Kortrijk because I also studied accounting in Syria. All classes are in Dutch so my Dutch skills need to improve quite a bit. I think I’ll need two more years of Dutch lessons to speak it well enough. Meanwhile I practise every day, whenever I can.”
Hamza Hassan (27): “Nathalie’s approach gave me the confidence to speak Dutch.”
Hamza arrived in Belgium from Bulgaria at the start of the first lockdown. Over the past two years the search for work mainly resulted in hard manual labour. “Just as long as I did the work my bosses didn’t care that I couldn’t speak Dutch.” In late November he joined the Unilin Group and immediately enrolled in the language immersion course. “The first few days of the three-week language immersion course were really difficult for me. The first Dutch word I learned was ‘moeilijk’ (‘difficult’) (roars with laughter).”
I’m not that keen on school but the way Nathalie approaches things is totally different. She is super friendly and talks to us as if we were friends. Her classes are very innovative and interesting and she always takes the time to answer our questions. Actually, she’s the best teacher I’ve ever had! In such a short time she has given me enough self-confidence and motivation to learn Dutch and practise, even outside of work.
I hope to resume my lessons with her soon, to improve my Dutch even further. Because I admit that even though I always start in Dutch on the work floor I still switch to English when things get a bit more complicated or I want to explain things to my colleagues in more detail. I’m a quality controller in Unilin Flooring’s press department. I check whether the quality standards are met, it’s a job with a great deal of responsibility actually. I don’t take any chances in that regard because I can’t explain things very well in Dutch.” He would like to stay with Unilin Group. “I can see myself growing in this company because there’s no shortage of opportunities.”
Also want to join Unilin Group? Then submit your application at jobs.unilin.com.