I’m sitting here in Denmark after having attended the annual IATEFL conference in Liverpool in the UK. There are always people from all over the world at this conference, which is one of the biggest gatherings of teachers of English as a foreign language in the world and this year was no exception.
One really nice surprise for me was to meet up with We’am Hamdan who I had recently worked with virtually. I love working online but it’s always nice to meet people face to face and We’am had travelled a long way from Palestine to be in Liverpool where she was leading a session for the IATEFL Global Issues special interest group. We’am was talking about a really interesting and universal topic so we have decided to devote this whole show to it.
In this show we will ask is it possible to build a relationship with a teacher thousands of miles away?
I also have news of two free courses coming up later this year, which might interest internationally minded listeners based in Europe. The first one, called M-HOUSE, is for people who are home-based for whatever reason, be it unemployment, looking after children and so on and who might be interested in exploring whether starting a business would be a good idea. The second project called FLITE, is aimed at people either already working or who are well on their way to getting a degree in computer sciences and who are also interested in working on a business idea. These are two projects I’m working on where we will be needing pilot students who will be able to do the courses for free. Why is this international? Because you will be doing the course online and will be working with people from all over Europe.
In this show we’re going to be hearing about why knowledge of the local culture is important, how different cultures understand the notion of a contract, what sort of intercultural problems business people have, the right and wrong way to express disagreement and lots more. In the past we have brought you tasters from various conferences on intercultural topics and in this show we are very lucky to have been given permission to bring you extracts from the recent online webinar organised by IATEFL’s Business English special interest group on the topic of intercultural communication. IATEFL is the International Association of teaching English as a foreign language and IATEFL has many special interest groups of which Business English is just one. Carl Dowse in Germany was the organiser of this recent webinar and you can see the full recordings on the BESIG webiste at besig.org and they are also on YouTube
absolutely overlooked We’ll start with an important observation from Baoquan Liu who was talking about how to test intercultural competence in his students when he mentioned something which is often absolutely overlooked…So could YOU describe your own local culture? Baoquan also included an interesting case study at the end of his talk which would be a great starting point for a discussion. You can see the case study on the besig.org website where the recording and slides are available free of charge.
absolutely contractual For our next segment we are going to go absolutely contractual and find out some of the problems various business people operating across cultures experience with one of the basics of business – the contract. Listen as Evan Frendo, an intercultural trainer, talks about some of the problems he hears about with contracts and why the last thing you want to do is have a lawyer in the room when hammering out the details.
absolutely problematic The next speaker in the webinar was Sabrina Gerland, an American based in Germany for the last 30 years, who spoke about the crucial importance of tone and expression. In this segment Sabrina starts by listing the types of real life questions which German business people present her with during her training sessions and then talks about how what you say can also be absolutely problematic even when it is grammatically correct.You can hear more examples of communication going wrong by listening to the whole of Sabrina’s talk on the besig.org page
absolutely mindful So far we have heard about very specific aspects of intercultural communication in business; be aware of the local culture, what do you understand by the word contract and how can you express disagreement politely. Our next segment, , will bring this all together. Peter Franklin, the final speaker in the Besig webinar, presented results of extensive research into what he calls intercultural interactive competence. He then pulled it all together into an idea called mindfulness…
absolutely short term One of the great joys of this webinar was the constant reference to real life, real people and real situations so in our next segment, absolutely short term, we’ll hear why the usuall advice to nurture long term relationships in order to build trust in business may not work.
And talking of real world problems, I’m going to end the extracts from this webinar with a lovely case study; an incident related by one of Sabrina Gerland’s course participants. I think we have to call this segment absolutely German!
So my thanks to Carl Dowse, the organiser of this wonderful and free webinar, for allowing me to bring you some extracts today.Did you like this taste of an online conference? Do you know of any other relevant upcoming online meetings? Do you have an idea for a show or a segment of a show. Do get in touch if you’ve got something to say about the podcast. And don’t forget that if you catch the show online it is now very easy to do so on your iphone or ipod.
The next show will be coming to you on 1 October from Dr. Laurent Borgmann in Germany.
So long…stay tuned!
The host of this show is: Anne Fox
Editor: Dino Nogarole
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.