international bank

The International Bank


assign consist private
appear hardly procedure
deposit essential credit union
fire (2) employee driver’s seat
go over residency handle (2)
basis wander account (2)
branch spot (2) well-known
relief ground my turn
teller relief situation
utter converse got up
detail suggest paperwork
emerge sort out interruption
cargo ability half-way


Business English

Not long after I began teaching at a private language centre, the director assigned me to a business English class.

The group consisted of employees from the same bank: four men and four women. They all appeared to be in their forties and fifties.

English and Computers

During one lesson, we talked about finding a job and hiring procedures.

“Applicants must know English and computers to even be considered,” explained Agnesa, one of the bank students. “Those, along with a university degree in finance, are requirements to work in a bank.”

Making Up

They explained that when they first started, hardly anyone in Poland could speak English and the language wasn’t essential.

Now it is.

And so all older bank employees had to learn English. “Our manager said we must take English lessons–or be fired,” said Kryzstof, another student.


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Wire Deposit
A few months later, I had save up some cash. I decided to deposit it into my credit union back in Ohio, USA.

So I went over to Agnesa and Kryzstof’s bank. It felt a bit odd seeing them at their desks; now they were in the drivers’ seat, and I, the passenger.

I told Kryzstof what I wanted to do.

The Rules

Though cheerful, he explained that since they were a national bank, they did not provided such services—except for their depositors.

To open a savings account, you needed a $100 minimum deposit. People also had to present their national or resident card, something that I didn’t have yet.

Kryzstof suggested that I instead try out an international or Western-owned bank. “They handle international transactions on a normal basis. It should be easier for you to do that there.”

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

Transnational Bank

Thus I wandered around town until I spotted a branch of a well-known American bank. What a relief!

I entered it.

Unlike Kryztof’s bank, I could not see a single male employee here.

Moreover, most of them looked like they had just graduated from university, even high school.

And despite the snow-covered grounds outside, they were all dressed as if it were July (thanks to the indoor heaters).

I took a numbered ticket and waited.


When it was my turn, I approached a teller and said that I wanted to make an electronic, money transfer abroad. Without uttering a word, she got up and went to a lady in the back and said something in their language.

The lady in the back then came towards me. ‘Okay, so she’s the translator,’ I thought. Instead, she walked past, and went out a back door. Meanwhile, the teller began serving the next customer.


A few minutes later, the lady emerged, followed by man in his fifties in a suit.

“Hello, how can I help you?” he asked me. I explained my situation once more. He then translated this to the teller, and she got out a bunch of forms.

For the next half-hour, the three of us went over the paperwork. It was a complicated process because of all the details involved.

The Interruption

About half-way through, one of the other tellers handed him a telephone. He took it and began conversing in French—just like a native.

After going on like this for five minutes, he hung up. He then turned to the teller and explained to her what had happened. He then apologized to me for the interruption.

“That was one of our clients, a businessman from Switzerland,” he said.

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

Finally we got it all sorted out.

Language Ability

“Thank you very much for your help,” I told the man.
“I’m sorry that my English isn’t very good. You see English is really my third language,” he said.

“With your language ability, I can see why you are the manager of this bank,” I said.
“Actually, I’m the security officer. I never really studied English—just French at school—but I picked up English and Spanish while I was working on board a cargo ship, as an engineer.”

*     *     *     *     *     *


1. The bank students were studying (business) English for fun. Yes or no?

2. Can anyone start work at their bank?

3. Why didn’t the writer make a wire transfer at his students’ bank? What did Kryzstof suggest?

4. What did the writer see in the international bank? What happened?

5. What did he think when he first saw the man in a suit?

6. Was there something fishy or ironic about the international-American bank?

7. Which bank do you think is more successful, the students’ bank, the transnational bank, or it make no difference?


A. Everyone has to know English and computers to be hired or get a job nowadays. True or false?

B. Which jobs require a working knowledge of English? Which jobs do not?

C. How can English and other language skills help advance a person’s career?

D. What fraction or percentage of young people in your city or country can speak English?

E. I know many successful people who can’t speak English. Yes or no?

F. Can looks or physical appearances be more important than knowing English?

G. What will happen in the future?



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