English language and programmers

The more you know who you are and what you want, the less you let things upset you.

Bob Harris – Lost in translation (2003)
Image from FocusFeatures


For the past, almost, two years, I have been working in H2020 EU projects. In simple terms this means that I participate in consortiums with partners from all around the European Union, so I have to use my English language skills almost every day.

My mother tongue is Greek, so my English is not perfect. But I try, and I try a lot my speaking and my writing to be as correct as possible. I try to improve daily as much as possible, and the reason is simple: I am a professional, and there is no room for excuses!

Usual excuses

  • Lack of opportunities to practice English.You can watch a movie, read a book, or find people online to practice it!
  • Lack of time. This is the biggest excuse ever! Instead of using the Spanish or Italian or whatever translations of a technical manual, use the English version. Grammar, vocabulary, terminology are all in there.
  • Not understanding everything. Well, you understand some or a lot!, So engage into the conversation, make mistakes and improve your English language skills!
  • No one corrects me. Besides the fact that you can find a tutor to support you, practicing and checking now and then a grammar and a vocabulary book will actually help you a lot you to make less mistakes.

The impact

Not improving your English language lead to bad professional impact. It’s not that it makes it more difficult to communicate with your current partners, but keeps you away from the labor market, at least the part of it you are interested in.

I could write down at least three to four examples, of failed communications cause the other party didn’t speak English. And those incidents didn’t occur to a small local city but in the center of Brussels!

And to be totally honest, English is not enough anymore. Speaking languages like German, Chinese, Russian, Spanish is a huge advantage. And the reason for learning those languages is simple: Those languages are spoken to many countries that are markets to services and products provided by the companies you probably want to work for.


Don’t keep yourself out the IT industry, or any industry. English is nowadays part of the basic skills, not the extras. Even I, at the age of the 36 I am planning to take German language courses.


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