Written by Sharon Aschaiek
Workplace Communication Skills for Business
Occupation-specific Language Training (OSLT) courses are free workplace communication training courses for immigrants. They are offered at many Ontario colleges full-time or part-time, in class or online. These courses are offered at many Ontario colleges and cover a range of occupations in business, construction, health sciences, human services and technology. OSLT is funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and coordinated by Colleges Ontario.
Grimaldy Montalvo is a resident of Niagara Falls who works as a medical secretary at a clinic that serves temporary and permanent residents, international students, refugees and visitors to Canada.
Grimaldy Montalvo, Medical Secretary
It was really helpful to learn how to communicate with customers, co-workers, managers and others in ways that are clear, courteous and professional.
Grimaldy, originally from Mexico, has a university degree in business administration and entrepreneurial experience. She, her husband and their two children immigrated to Canada in 2020 to pursue new employment and educational opportunities. They first settled in Quebec before moving to Ontario last year.
In order to develop her employment-related language abilities, she enrolled in the OSLT course Workplace Communication Skills for Business—Accounting & Finance/Entrepreneurship and Sales & Marketing. The course provides practical, relevant training to internationally trained or experienced business professionals in interacting with customers, colleagues, employees, suppliers and others in business workplaces.
Grimaldy completed the course part time last fall on campus at Niagara College. Here, she shares about her experience.
Q: What are some of the most useful things you learned in the course about communications in a business workplace?
A: There are things newcomers need to know to succeed at work that are not taught on the job, and language skills is one of them. It was really helpful to learn how to communicate with customers, co-workers, managers and others in ways that are clear, courteous and professional. We learned how to use the right words when talking with people by email, on the phone and face to face.
Q: The course involves role-playing different work scenarios to practise new language skills and understand the cultural aspects of workplace communication. How helpful was this to you?
A: We had many opportunities in class to develop our skills through group exercises where we practised what we were learning. I was able to understand how to present myself well in a job interview, including what kinds of questions to expect from a hiring employer, and how to use the right language to explain my expertise. I also learned how to develop an effective resume that clearly reflects my educational and professional experiences.
It was also useful to learn from the faculty teaching the course and from guest speakers about workplace culture, the dynamics between employers and employees, and making small talk with co-workers.
The course was also a good opportunity to network with my classmates, who were also business professionals from countries such as Afghanistan, Brazil, Colombia, India and Ukraine.
Q: You chose to switch out of the business field—how has this course benefitted you in your job as a medical secretary?
A: What I gained from the course is knowledge about good workplace communication skills, but also confidence—that I am able to use the right language at work to interact effectively with others.
Without knowing how to communicate in the workplace, how can you look for a good job, do well in a job interview or talk with customers? These skills are important for newcomers to learn so that they can get ahead in their careers.
If you’re an internationally educated or experienced professional, learn how OSLT can help you build your workplace communication skills and cultural knowledge: https://co-oslt.org/.
OSLT is funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and coordinated by Colleges Ontario.