I have recently moved to an English speaking country and started working at a software company some months ago. We are at that time of the year (apparently, since it's my first time) where we provide a few objectives to achieve for the next year, some of these objectives can be: getting a certification, propose a course to follow in some new technology or something personal that you want to achieve.

Besides techs courses, I wanted to propose English lessons to improve my English. I was planning on taking them anyway with private tuition but if the company can pay for it, well, better for me.

  • But, do you think it would be out of context to ask for it?

Supposedly, I should already know the language since I got the job (one of the point made out by the recruiter in my first interview was actually that they thought my English level was too low because I wasn't talking enough or giving them only short answers; that however changed a little bit with the second interview...otherwise I suppose I wouldn't had the job).

Even so, from my point of you, well, there is much room for improvement.

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    Totally a reasonable ask, and I would imagine that better command of English can only positively improve your work! Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 20:10
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    @Mawg I already do all of those things, the only one missing would be hanging out at bars, which I think it's a good advice but...I have some social anxiety issue which doesn't help me much to do so, English is my third language and I can realize how much I'm missing for a more "formal type" of conversations.
    – Emiliano
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 8:49
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    The things about bars is that after a beer or two, the social anxiety issues disappear :-) I seek out small ones, where people will be nosy and ask questions of a stranger, forcing me to talk. When they learn you are a foreigner, natural curiosity will lead to questions about your country, what you think of their country, your work, etc. After a while, you become part of the group and know about them and can have good conversations.
    – Mawg
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 9:10
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    If you do have anxiety in social situations, then a bar might be of more help than other places where you could chat. But, if you have a hobby, join a club, after the first few meetings, your anxiety will have gone (I hope). Also, be aware of interpersonal.stackexchange.com for advice on getting over your anxiety
    – Mawg
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 9:13
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    You do not have anything to lose to ask if they provide personal development coaching in general. Although, be prepared to reject any of their offers if they try to cut down on cost by suggesting online courses (Rosena Stones type) instead, as they might be ineffective for you (actual tutor is needed).
    – Peace
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 11:00

5 Answers 5


I would position this as a desire to increase your written and/or verbal communication skills. I think this would be easier to pitch because it sounds more like you're building your leadership skills and working on being a stronger employee.

You might want to describe the courses will specifically address areas where you feel this will help the most. Public speaking or ability to create clear and concise documentation are two ideas.

A good language class would probably cover those two areas in every lesson.

  • +1. My boyfriend is a native speaker and his supervisor sent him to a communications class because they want him to train new employees and he's not necessarily the best at explaining things clearly. Language classes are great for people who aren't native speakers, but they can be just as important for the rest of the team, as well.
    – Keiki
    Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 20:58

It is the company's job to provide you with the necessary training to complete your job. If your job involves dealing with customers, English training could be crucial.

some of these objectives can be: getting a certification, propose a course to follow in some new technology or something personal that you want to achieve.

It seems like the company is interested in your personal goals, and if you can tie learning English into your job, it is not out of context at all.

Plus, you were planning on learning privately anyway. What's the harm in asking? Just try to tie it into your job somehow, and your employers will be more inclined to agree.

  • +1 Spot-on answer, especially the last sentence, frame a request like this in terms of how it will benefit the business to do this and you have a much higher chance of getting it approved (and funded!)
    – motosubatsu
    Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 15:30
  • Perks of growing up with strict parents. You learn how to make a request sound like an offer
    – Cubemaster
    Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 15:32
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    I always think of it as catching more flies with honey than vinegar, if you get someone thinking about what benefits they get out of something you're half way there to making them forget about the cost
    – motosubatsu
    Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 15:37

-- But, do you think it would be out of context to ask for it?

Without any other information then what's in this question I'm guessing this is fine, assuming that the company that hired you knew about your level of English proficiency, which makes this a good self-improvement effort.

When I was a hiring manager I always was impressed when developers were self-motivated to select their own training.

Good luck.


It's perfectly OK.

But keep it very simple, short, offhand and low-key. DON'T make a big thing about it.

What about this, send a casual email which says:

"Say boss, I had an idea which might up productivity, does the company have a facility to give me further English lessons once a week? What do you think? Cheers, Byz."

No more than that - that's it.

(Huge tip in communication technique by the way: ALWAYS asks questions in general when you are negotiating. Note the last sentence.)


I have a differing perspective on this and at the risk of upsetting some people I will present it anyway:

No, it is most certainly NOT OK to ask your employer to pay for something you should have (and probably told them that you already had) before you got hired.

Did you at any point lead them to believe you had adequate written/oral language skills BEFORE you got hired? I'm going to go out on a limb and say yes since no one would knowingly hire someone who can't speak the language.

Assuming you said yes to the above (which was lying on your resume and application) then if you ask for them to pay for a course you should be paying for you'll be outing yourself as a liar and then going further by asking THEM to fix it for you.

If it was my company I'd not only tell you to pay for it yourself I'd be looking at what else you've lied about on your application.

  • This is exactly why I posted the question in the first place..as much as I agree with you I'm not 100% sure with your point of view. I don't think I have lied during the application..the interview was a 2 stage process. One by phone and another in person..my CV says that my English is "advanced" which I think it's true since I'm still be able to communicate sufficiently. If they think this wasn't the case they should have press me harder during the interview. Besides this is something that I have asked to interviewer's after being rejected for other jobs, and I have received positive feedback.
    – Emiliano
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 8:58

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