Mr. Schartel speaks about his training by teknihall

Michael Schartel screws open the rear wall of the television set. On the guarantee card the customer had complained that the colour disappeared from the television picture after an hour’s viewing. „Probably a temperature fault.“ Michael grabs the hairdryer. Leave the television on for an hour and wait until the set has warmed up and the fault appears? The 18-year old in the repair workshop hasn’t got that much time. He has to help things along a bit.

Michael is learning the profession of information electronics technician with the main area of device and systems technology. The company providing his training, the service company of „teknihall“ in the town of Münster in the Land of Hesse specialises in repairing electrical appliances – for trading companies which sell these products. Purchasers who develop problems with their hi-fi equipment, video-recorders or DVD players in this case first contact „teknihall’s“ hotline. If the customers cannot be helped by telephone the goods come into the repair workshop and thus to Michael und his colleagues.

With the television on, Michael heats up various components on a board with the hairdryer, checks them with an instrument, tries to localise the fault. In between he leafs through a booklet: in the documentation. „Documentations are the manufacturer’s technical instructions. In them I find all the important information from the circuit diagram as far as the description of the components.“ This documentation is written in English. That’s no problem for Michael, who looks up which components are responsible for the colour and where which voltage must be applied.

Many appliances from the entertainment electronics field are today manufactured in Turkey or the Far East. It is clear that documentation and manuals are written in the world language for electrical engineering: in English. Just as also programming instructions for computers which Michael is learning to apply in his training. „When I chose the profession I was not aware of the fact that I would have so much to do with technical English“, says the former pupil of an intermediate secondary school. „But I quickly picked up important terms and English abbreviations – simply ‚learning by doing‘.“

Also sometimes telephone calls and e-mails in English

Michael remembers the day when his colleague had to pick up the receiver and make a call to China. During a repair job he did not know how to go on and had to get advice from the Chinese engineer who had developed the appliance. „Conducting telephone conversations, writing an e-mail in English or even taking part in an appliance manufacturer’s training course held in English – that is something no apprentice and no information electronics technician does during the first year as a ‚journeyman‘, says training instructor Axel Opel. „But whoever has worked his or her way into the special subject and is very well acquainted with special appliances, can hardly manage without it.“ Besides sound marks in Physics, Chemistry, German and in Maths the company therefore also keeps an eye on the applicants‘ command of English.

Something else is important, Opel stresses, „In the department accepting items for repair our apprentices learn to also ask the customer how the defect is manifested. And on our hotline, for a remote diagnosis you have to ask the right questions and describe for customers how they are to proceed during operation of the appliances. Therefore information electronics technicians should also be able to express themselves comprehensibly and well in German.“ (German version on