Combitherm strengthens the language skills of their foreign employees
Danish lessons at the company improves daily communication
The small Jutland company Combitherm, which designs and produces energy-saving thermal solutions for protecting temperature-sensitive goods and processes in several different industries, is doing really well. This has led to a busy schedule for the company’s 33 employees, more than a third of whom are from Syria.
To handle the increasing number of orders, a process has begun to see how the company can reduce waste and streamline all production processes. This also involves a heightened focus on language, explains Combitherm’s COO, Torben Hallstrup.
“We are going through a process where it will be important for us to communicate effectively and precisely about what is happening in production. And we want all our employees, including our Syrian employees, to contribute to this process. Many of them have been working for us for several years now and have valuable insights into the specific work tasks, that we need to hear about.”
The Syrian employees can speak Danish but are often a bit reluctant to come forward and talk about professional topics. And Torben Hallstrup wants to do something about this.
“We need to help them, so they gain more confidence and can express what they have observed in production.”
Therefore, Combitherm has now made an agreement with UCplus’ Language Center in Silkeborg to organize a program that will strengthen the Syrian employees’ language skills through Danish lessons at the company three hours each week.
Focus on work-related language
Every Thursday afternoon, UCplus’ language consultant Jette Kaspersen turns up at Combitherm’s canteen, and instead of open sandwiches, the lunch tables are now covered with conversation cards and other objects that can get conversations started.
The lessons aim to strengthen and expand the Syrian employee’s linguistic competencies. Therefore, the focus is on increasing their vocabulary and making their pronunciation more precise, explains Jette Kaspersen.
“They practice talking about what they have done during the workday, and we focus on the special words that are relevant for them at the company. For example, ‘I was sewing on the overlock machine’ leads to us focusing on important words from the work tasks, besides, we practice pronouncing the Danish vowels, for example, ‘y’ in ‘sy’ and ‘å’ in ‘tråd’.”
We train common speech acts, such as what to say when asking for something or offering something. The oral language is supported by reading and writing exercises and the use of WhatsApp, where we take pictures of the machines and record what they are called.”
All this helps to expand the employees’ vocabulary and make it more precise, thereby improving communication throughout the workday, both when employees meet at the coffee machine or lunch table or when tasks are handed over at the large sewing machines.
Learning new words helps
Mustafa Mustafa and Abdul Rahman Mustafa both came to Denmark in 2015. They explain that the situation they came from with the civil war in Syria and the many relocations they had to go through to find safety as refugees in Denmark made it difficult to learn Danish at first. But they are happy that with the new language instruction they can become better at speaking Danish.
Abdul Rahman Mustafa explains that he becomes shy speaking Danish, especially if there are words he can’t remember. But the lessons help him get going.
“It’s good that we practice, and I hope that I’ll learn to speak more.”
And colleague Mustafa Mustafa agrees:
“It helps that we learn new words. It makes it easier to talk together.”
Help your international employees learn Danish
UCplus offers a range of flexible solutions for company Danish. Lessons can take place at the workplace, at the nearest language center, or through online instruction.
UCplus handles all coordination and provides skilled instructors who conduct Danish lessons at the employees’ level.
It is possible to apply for lost earnings if the lessons are held during working hours. UCplus also helps with the application process.