An international career with Bayer meant David Buatois could not rely on his schoolboy English, so he turned to VICI Language Academy for an intensive six-week tailored training course to prepare him for a tour of European countries where English will be the common language.
“I did not speak English for 20 years, not since I finished at University it was in 1992, of course as a French student, I learned English at school, but I did not speak it between 1992 and 2012.
“I did not need to speak English at the beginning; I was a pharmaceutical sales rep and in 2009 I became Regional Sales Manager and in 2012 I was responsible for two kinds of commercial excellence programs. We created a key account department in 2013 and my last job was to manage this department, so it meant a team of 14 key account managers in France.
“However, as my role changes in the company I will be responsible for implementing this project in Europe, so I will have to speak English every day. It is why I am there at VICI, and I am going to be there for six weeks and in the morning I’m ‘at school’ – of course that’s the VICI Language Academy – and in the afternoon I’m at the office at Bayer House, Newbury.
“So the main goal of attending VICI is to help me, of course, to improve my English grammar and my vocabulary as well. As I explained to Nathalie and Laura, the main difficulties for me are when I’m in a restaurant or a pub; I would say when I’m in a noisy place. Because when you are speaking lots about business, it’s more or less all the time the same words and you know the topic. But when you are outside in a pub or a restaurant, of course, everybody can speak about anything. So for instance, I had my lunch with some colleagues and there was an American girl and it was in the canteen and it was very noisy with Christmas songs. It was an intense nightmare!
Most of the time we speak of different topics, probably about what has been in the news or maybe what I have seen on TV the previous day. And Laura helps me to read different texts, you know, to improve my pronunciation. And of course, I have some homework. Most of the time the exercises are about grammar – this kind of homework. We spend three or four hours most days, but sometimes lessons are in both the morning and the afternoon because we have 90 hours to do. After eight hours in the same day… sometimes I have a headache! Laura, my English coach is able to hear the difference between one week and this week. Especially when I read, I realise that I progress, especially with the pronunciation. Because sometimes it’s “e”, sometimes it’s “i” – so you have to practice. But it’s really good because we spend a lot of time speaking about different topics. It helps me to speak more fluently and yeah she fires point-blank, “OK tell me about that”, “Speak about that”.
This morning it was about tennis, yesterday I had to explain to her the rules of baseball because I was a baseball player when I was young. I had to explain the rules of rugby. So the main idea is: “OK, let’s go”.