Monday morning, 09.00 o’clock. Expectantly, I take a look at ten friendly, yet somewhat tired faces. (Almost) Like at school, I catch myself thinking. “What a good idea, Elena, for you to prepare the photo exercise for us …”, one of the local team members, tells me. “It really got us going in a much needed, Monday-morning-encouraging kind of way!”
Every year, I take care to run a series of excellent language trainings for people working in the NÖVOG Lower Austrian train company.
Translated to English, this means working on training local members of staff at each of Lower Austria’s (mountain) railway companies, such as the Mariazellerbahn or the team at the “Gemeindealpe Mitterbach”, to speak better tourism English. “Yes, in fact, we always have more of those foreign visitors … Lots of Hungarians, in our case. This autumn, we will even do a course in Hungarian”, the team of the Schneebergbahn updates me on their progress so far.
On the day leading up to my two-day teaching seminar, I take care to travel early to what is known as one of Austria’s climatic spa resorts, the lovely little town named Puchberg am Schneeberg. It nestles right at the foot of Lower Austria’s highest mountain, the famous “Schneeberg” at just over 2.000 metres above sea level. The photos I use in my first exercise the next morning are all from my hiking tour that very day, motivated to reach further into this pristine mountain area only about an hour away from Vienna.
Puchberg is thus right at the centre of all action. What this translates into concerning guests wishing to talk to the locals about the time, the train schedules, the sights and attractions around, is what we are here to train for.
I’m loving it. “If you’ve got a question – any question – about saying something in English, you can even call me at four a.m. in the morning … That’s not a problem really, it’s easy for …” – “Really?!” My students in front of me start giggling, then rise to a roar. “Sure”, I add full of confidence, then having to laugh myself. – “Will you give us your number, then?” I must say I really like them. My team here in Puchberg am Schneeberg.
2014 saw the first in a series of language trainings here at the Schneebergbahn; this year I am back building on to the vocabulary we’ve trained earlier. As part of our advanced language course, we train real customer dialogs, build questions & answers in relevant contexts, talk about personal experiences and give recommendations. More than grammar & vocabulary, I always try and focus on encouraging staff to see the use, and build up their confidence, in speaking English as a foreign language – a language so natural and innate to me, second only to my mother tongue German.
And you, when will you decide to come and visit the area around the Schneeberg in Lower Austria? Here are several more travel tips to help you plan your stay. Enjoy & see you soon!