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4 mei 2016

In-company language courses make expats feel extra welcome

Altran consultants are taking an in-company language course


Initially, the expats who started working for Altran could manage fine with their English language skills. After all, the majority of the international employees did not speak any Dutch. But when Altran merged with Nspyre and TASS in 2015, language skills did become an issue. 

Training officer Cara Coffyn at Altran received more and more questions from employees looking for Dutch lessons. “I did not want to send all these colleagues to a language institute,” she explains. “I preferred an in-company language course. The advantage is that colleagues are coming in to the office and getting to know other people in the company so they feel more involved in our company.”


Warm welcome
Altran employees are from countries all around the world: China, India, Venezuela, Eastern Europe, Greece and Spain for example. “We would like them to feel at home here,” explains Cara. “It did not feel right referring them to a language institute in a quick email or phone call. These days I meet up with everyone in person. Quite often, expats don’t expect that everyone in the company is communicating in Dutch. They sometimes find it rather shocking. I put their minds at rest and reassure them that we offer Dutch language courses, even for complete beginners! By immediately starting a course, everything turns out just fine."


Convincing Altran
Cara has not been working in Eindhoven for very long. She came from Belgium to set up the Altran Academy in the Netherlands. This is why she was looking into Dutch language courses. Some expats at Nspyre had already taken a language course at STE and wanted to do a follow-up course. Cara was very happy about all the options that STE offers. The good working relationship with STE now and in the past convinced Altran to continue working with STE in 2016.


There was a lot of work to be done internally. Because English used to be the official language in this Dutch company, people were less aware of the language issue. After the merger, Dutch was increasingly used in the organisation. Communicating in Dutch is much more important now. After drawing up a business plan with costs and benefits, Altran agreed to offer their employees in-company language courses. 


Achieving level A2
Three groups of Altran colleagues have now started to learn Dutch. On three different levels. “Dorine Hoskes at STE has really helped us with this,” explains Cara. “We gave her a list of names and she worked out who had to do an intake and which level of Dutch everybody has. After that, we had to figure out when we could fit the language courses in. It was unbelievable, but we managed to find a time slot on which everybody could attend for all three levels! STE is really flexible in this. And it could also cope with some last-minute registrations.” 


Altran has opted for two starting dates every year. This means that in September 2016 new people can start, and current course participants can take another follow-up course. People who do not fit in an in-company training course can still go to STE and join an open enrolment course,” explains Cara. “I have just learnt German myself and I find that level A2 is when you start to feel a bit more comfortable in a language. If people would like to do more than that, then they can discuss this with their manager.” 


The major advantage of in-company language courses is the feeling of being part of a group, of belonging somewhere. Cara explains: “People are good at motivating each other, they are coming into the office and they see that we are investing in their future. A Dutch language course is very important for integrating into Dutch society. And it makes international employees feel more involved in and committed to our company." 



About Altran

Altran is a global leader in innovation and high-tech engineering

consultancy. It supports companies in creating and developing

new solutions, products and services. Altran employs some 1,000 

consultants in various offices and works for major clients in the

automotive, transport, aerospace, industrial, energy, life sciences, telecommunications and financial sectors.


“Our consultants are based externally working at our clients’

offices so we do our best to make them feel more involved in

our organisation,” explains Cara. “For example, we organise

unit meetings and road shows, but also training courses in our office.

This is a great way to make our employees feel more involved and committed to Altran. By offering these in-company Dutch language

courses, we show our expats that we are keen to invest in their future.”


For more information about Altran please visit: or 



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