A big drive to improve English

Once a week, Jörgen Bylund and Klas Kaiser leave work at the Pilot Plant to go back to school. They are aiming to improve their skills when it comes to speaking English.
Jörgen Bylund and Klas Kaiser aiming to improve their skills when it comes to speaking English.
Jörgen Bylund and Klas Kaiser aiming to improve their skills when it comes to speaking English.

Their teacher Sophie Henriksson welcomes them to the small meeting room at the Volvo Group plant Tuve in Gothenburg, Sweden. She comes from the UK and is one of the teachers in the team involved in language teaching for the Volvo Group’s co-workers in Gothenburg.

All the teaching is adapted to match the participants’ needs and wishes. Some are given individual lessons, while others study in larger groups.

Jörgen Bylund and Klas Kaiser are normally accompanied by two colleagues, but on this particular week they are on a business assignment abroad. One of the tasks assigned to the Pilot Plant has been to support the construction of other plants, so language is key.

“We have traveled to basically the whole of the world. Even if interpreters are available, it’s much easier if everyone has a common language, like English. Sometimes, however, even that doesn’t work and then it’s a question of pointing!” says Klas Kaiser.

He and Jörgen Bylund have now started their fifth term of English classes.

“I have learned an enormous amount and I am now used to speaking English. I can turn off the sub-titles on my TV and still understand,” says Jörgen Bylund.

“In the past, I often found it difficult to find the right words and I was afraid of speaking English. That is no longer the case,” says Klas Kaiser.

The whole lesson takes place in English; reading aloud, complicated numbers and spelling are interspersed with jokes and laughter.

Sophie Henriksson only needs to make the odd interruption to explain a word or correct their pronunciation.

Around 20 people work at the Pilot Plant and many of them take part in English courses of some kind.

“This is a global organisation which is involved in many projects all over the world. For us to be successful, it’s important that our co-workers feel comfortable speaking English,” says Monica Jakobsen Gemanius, head of the Pilot Plant.

In addition to improving language skills, the teaching also has other positive effects.

“We can see that it really generates engagement and is a part of personal development. That´s also important,” says Monica Jakobsen Gemanius.

More of the employees in the Volvo Group are going to improve their English. This year, the Volvo Group University is starting a virtual language education programme. Learn more about Volvo Group University: