Phil at Belron

Our case study today is of Phil, who is a Key Accounts Director at Belron International. Belron are a large global company, owning many great brands, including the very well-known Autoglass. Phil regularly travels to France and Switzerland for work, and thus started learning French with us in September this year. Phil had learnt French at school like many of us, but it had been 20 years since he has spoken it since! So far, he has had 7 one-hour lessons, and has genuinely been making surprisingly quick progress!

Here’s an interview with Phil, where he tells us us how he’s getting on so far.

Please could you tell me about your work?

I’m a Key Accounts Director. It’s a sales role where I’m involved in managing international agreements, visiting both our internal and other businesses around Europe and sometimes the rest of the world. My role is to grow sales and develop and manage our existing relationships.

Why did you start learning French?

Primarily for work purposes. I used to go to France to meetings and would be in a room full of French speakers. I felt ignorant just speaking in English! I felt obligated to learn in this sense. Also I’ve always been really impressed with other people who speak a language, so I also want to be one of these people! It’s just an impressive skill to have.

How is it going so far?

Really good, much better than expected! Lessons are paced well, flexible and work around me. My teacher, Gildas, is amazing. He’s native French from Brittany, so I’m getting some very authentic practice. Lessons are challenging, but still really enjoyable!

What was the first lesson like?

The first lesson involved setting expectations from both sides. We talked about how long the process of learning French was going to take. There was lots of English used as it was all about gaining a thorough understanding of my needs and goals.

Could you tell us about a typical lesson please?

Gildas comes over to my house for lessons. We start by chit chatting in French. The process of making the coffees before starting the lesson is done in French, and then we catch up in French about how my week has been. (We must say, we were impressed that Phil was able to do this already when we saw a recent lesson of his.) Then we follow some structured learning of key words and verbs, as well as developing general conversation skills.

How has French helped you in business?

It’s really helped. Even after I can now get an understanding of conversations going on around me when attending meetings in France, instead of really being in the dark. It’s really helped with the relationships as people react nicely to me having a go at speaking French. They’re happy to hear me trying and appreciate I’m spending time and money learning their language.

Has it benefitted you outside of business?

Yes definitely. I also go on holiday to France and have just come back from Marseille. It was great to be able to order food in French. The kids love it as well and enjoy hearing me speak French. I’m teaching them bits and bobs too.

What is your favourite thing about learning French?

It’s great for expanding the brain and learning something new. It’s been so long since I’ve done any studying, but it’s very enjoyable. It’s also a nice to not feel quite as ignorant as before at work!

What goal do you have for your French learning?

I’d love to have whole conversations about general topics in French. It’s going to take a while yet, but I’m keen to carry on learning and will enjoy seeing how far I can get!


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