Last week I was in Belgium in the beautiful city of Leuven for the SIETAR Congress.
SIETAR stands for the Society for Intercultural Education, Training and Research and their biennial congress is a very friendly affair. Of course a Congress is always very diverse, forgive the pun, and in addition diversity was one of the main themes of the Congress this year so todays show is also very diverse.
If you are listening to this from our website then you will see a beautiful image of the gothic town hall of Leuven. This is where we had the opening reception to the Congress and this is also where we heard the mayor of Leuven, Mohamed Ridouani, give a very inspirational talk about what you can do at local level to make people feel valued and included. Unfortunately I did not ask him to be on the podcast but we do have an interesting variety of people for you in the next 25 minutes or so.
In this show we’re going to go to the UK and China to find out about opportunities for learning more about intercultural communication. We’ll be meeting Richard Wood, one of the founders of Verge, a cross-cultural communication company based in Hefei, China. We’ll also be meeting with Adrian Pilbeam who runs two courses to help people get started in intercultural training and if you’re lucky you can get these for free!
absolutely trained So let’s start with the main topic of this show which is about how you can get a solid grounding in how to do intercultural training by attending one of 2 five-day courses which is usually held in Bath, England but has also been held in other countries by special request. I talked with Adrian Pilbeam, one of the main instigators of the course and also one of the main facilitators about what you can learn in five days.
absolutely comfortable The need for intercultural training is a growing one especially in the economic powerhouse which is China. So for my next piece I contacted Richard Wood, one of the founders of Verge, a cross-cultural communication company based in Hefei, China. Richard’s company has come up with the idea of Comfortable Communication. So we find out what that means.
absolutely free It’s obvious that there is a huge potential demand for this sort of training and if you liked the sound of the course which Adrian Pilbeam at LTS Training was offering earlier then if you are based in Europe there is even more good news as Adrian’s courses could be ‘absolutely free’ if you are based in Europe as you could then get it funded through the Grundtvig scheme.
absolutely uncomfortable And if you’re in any doubt that intercultural training might be a good idea then you should take note of this cautionary tale from Richard Wood of Verge. Here he is describing an example when he was absolutely uncomfortable! We’ll be hearing more from Richard in a future show about how he trains his Chinese students to avoid these uncomfortable situations. In the meantime I hope that you are on your way to comfortable communication.
You may be pleased to know that this is absolutely your last chance to vote for us in the European Podcast awards as voting closes at the end of July! Unfortunately we have no way of knowing how well or badly we are doing but I would like to extend a big thank you to all those of you who have voted for us so far. You can leave us a comment about what you liked or what we could do better here on our website and you can also make a suggestion about who or what we should feature in future shows.
The next show will be coming to you from Germany with Laurent Borgmann on August 6th so until then stay tuned!
absolutely worth it Thank you to Valentina Dodge for nominating the podcast and blog as one worth taking a look at. Thanks Valentina and now I just have to compile our own list of blogs worth looking at. I’ll be doing that in time for the next show but in the meantime you’ll hear about a great nomination in today’s show.
absolute textbook It’s often said that you can’t learn a language without culture so it makes sense to bring out a book which helps you learn English through learning about intercultural matters. I was at the IATEFL conference in Harrogate in April where I met Adrian Pilbeam, the author of the new book Working across Cultures, and discussed it with him. The book is part of the Pearson Longman Market Leader series and could be a useful supplement to the main course text.
absolutely social Now we’ll hear from Fred Dervin in Finland about why he was involved in organising a webinar about social media and inclusion and quite what this has to do with culture. The online conference took place in late April about the potential of social media, such as this podcast or our blog, to reduce social exclusion. The event was part of a large European project Language Learning and Social Media which will be coming up with best practices. You’d be surprised how much social exclusion has to do with cultural differences. In her session Professor Ruth Illman from Finland presented us with some different metaphors for culture. Prof Illman’s then moved on from talking about boxes to something more flexible. In the webinar we also heard about some problems in Second Life, the virtual world where one of the things you have to do is to choose an avatar or representation of yourself which you can then clothe according to your preferences. Prof. Gráinne Conole from The Open University, UK explains.