Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Barnard and Cady's Business Venture One: Module 7.6 Culture File Job Mobility

Barnard and Cady's Business Venture One: Module 7.6 Culture File Job Mobility

Part 1: Cultural awareness test

Do you feel this kind of quiz can raise cultural awareness?

This kind of quiz probably requires a lot higher level of reading comprehension, fluency and/or work experience than most of my beginner and pre-intermediate students possess. For higher level learners possibly very useful as they may be able to discuss opposing viewpoints concerning the test answers and why they may have selected one moreso over the other. My own score was in the 60% range but possibly a result of hubris. I even had the Korean question wrong.

•How could getting learners to find out more about their home culture and comparing this information with a host culture of their choice help business relations?

Learning more about one’s own culture can do no harm in terms of self-identity and awareness. In particular I find historical references useful as Korean students generally have a well prepared selection of national heros, legends, myths and folktales to draw upon which among other cultures helps project a sense of humour especially across the generations and generation gaps where due to recent jumps in economic progress often one generation of Koreans has quite little in common with the next especially since the Korean War. As Tomalin, JJ and DB share similar opinions regarding necessary interpersonal skills among cross-cultural learners the best place to inculcate these might be in respect to one’s own individual self and perception of “home culture” first whereby new approaches to perhaps old business relationship problems could be addressed.

Are the resources listed on Kwintessential useful? Why or why not?

This website has been useful to me however I have had to trim the materials especially in the culture sections I use for one of my courses in global negotiation to suit the learners pre-intermediate level of English fluency. In addition this website has been regularly improved over a number of years with more and more features. For learners however I would think that their level of fluency would need to be quite high to maintain interest or utility.

Part 2: Culture as a business English topic

Barnard and Cady (Oxford, 2009) Business Venture One: Chapter Seven, Company and Personal History, Module 7.6 Culture File Job Mobility (page 46): This staged speaking activity focuses on first review of a four country comparison study graph/chart (Germany/Japan/Korea and USA) which plots the percentages of full or part-time employment among 18-24 year olds in response to the survey question, ”How many times have you changed jobs?” Adverbs of frequency were chosen from a Likert scale-like range which included: never, once, twice, three times, four times or more.

The second stage uses the graph information to fill out five answers to which countries have the highest percentages of each level of job changing frequency.

The third stage poses a discussion question regarding the advantages/disadvantages of changing jobs for both employers and employees in either staying in a job long-term or changing often. Useful gambits and starter expressions are provided such as:

I think it’s a good/bad idea to change/stay in one job because…
Employers like workers who…
If you change jobs many times…
If you stay at one company your whole life…

Classroom Utility: To be honest I have used this activity as “filler” and as it is tagged on to the end of the chapter it is a slight departure from the company and personal history lesson. What I generally do is group the students into fours while they look at the chart and then chalk up the board into large sections while they are preparing their written responses.

Then I divide the class into two groups. The first is to debate the employer opinion regarding pros and cons of long-term or short-term employees while the second is to debate the same on behalf of young employees. Generally I have about five groups on the employer side and five on the employee side so there are often overlaps in terms of opinions and points. Each group must nominate a “writer” to plot up to about three responses each on the board. Then as an exit activity students must select an opposing viewpoint from a different group and agree or disagree with it giving a unique reason. Each time a new point is selected it is removed from the board. Remaining students must scramble to adapt their answers as fewer and fewer possible points remain. I use this activity in this way because I have always felt asking a question which includes advantages and disadvantages as well as employer and employees is asking an awful lot of beginner learners in terms of topics and multiplicity of subjects.

I hope I have painted a reasonable picture of this activity which I have used frequently in an annual beginner level business English class for which Business Venture One has provided the “just right” approach to my learner groups as my copy and scan facilities are next to nil. Some days I feel lucky to have a functioning computer and internet connection in my office (I spent untold hours attempting to get an MS word trial program over the last week). I also appreciate it when such textbooks include South Korean data and can only suspect that the editors have marketing teams helping them to find new target markets on behalf of Barnard and Cady. The previous edition of this series seemed to take a heavy Japanese content approach and I can only suspect that the book gained popularity in Korea over the last half decade since. I have been employing it while remaining in the same job at the same time. On an aside it has come to my attention that in the western world many if not most of those workers perceived to be in any way ambitious by HR recruiters remain on average about six months in any given position. I really cannot imagine leap-frogging from job to job in such a manner and would think one year contracts are as short as I would be willing to take abroad. The other dynamic which I have noticed especially over fifteen years ago are the increasing numbers of pre-experienced students that actually have part-time jobs in Korea. Sadly the minimum wage remains around $3.50 USD an hour.

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