Saturday, January 22, 2011

Pro-Social Small Talk Lesson Summaries

The long intro and essay would be useless to my students. We would pick up at the starters page and just use that as an opener to generating dialogues practicing small talk. The bus stop/office/party dialogues would be quite long for my folks but good examples for generating their own in class and performing them in front of the group. Difficulties include: the first set of essays as I would just chop that right out and ask eliciting questions about the purposes of small talk and focus on polite questions to ask strangers because sometimes Koreans can appear a little invasive of privacy issues to English speakers but usually they are just curious or being what they think is being polite. The small talk quiz would make a good exit evaluation followed by general discussion.

This small talk provides many more options than the English Club does and I like the short easy to print out and complete worksheet style. This would perhaps be a good closer activity over several consecutive and perhaps unrelated lessons however there is a lot of reading and it might be better as a take home exercise to allow them to prepare their answers. My students have good reading and writing skills and I would not want to waste class time with too much of that. These topics could be discussed in class following home preparation and might be good for outside class group meetings as well.

I recognize this as a topic of some of my students’ homework from international trade English communication this past semester. I instruct them to listen to the six minute English broadcast and then freely choose one or two other BBC general learner/business English activities. Some form of this article is available to students I can’t find it but I remember some of them discussing it. On aside I have over 5000 student homework emails in my gmail box so just please take my word for it. Some of them liked this topic because it is so foreign to them the concept of kissing for greetings is a rare public display in Korea reserved for elders to babies. But they find these cultural differences fascinating.

Yes, I have actually used “Cindy C’s” videos previously and found them through random online search. Some of my students enjoy these kinds of prescriptive descriptions of culture and etiquette. I assign it as optional home study and/or hyperlink it into homework assignments. I would never test knowledge on this stuff though. Since there are no accompanying transcripts what they pick up could be fairly minimal to nada. Seems geared to typical housewives crowd as it is uncontroversial and fairly fluffy.

I would use this as a reading assignment if I was teaching a lesson on meeting and greeting people. The question I would ask would be something like, “In your words what are the three most important tips that Glenn Ebersole gives for meeting and greeting people? Why do you think these are the most important? Are any of these tips less important to you? Why? Etc.” But this would not form the core of my lesson. I like to give them many opinions and ask them to reason with their own opinions. It is fairly uncommon I think in the Korean educational system to do so.

As it is intermediate level it would be more challenging for my students to do this. I might assign the listening and questions as homework reviewed in group discussion in class. Prepare the questions and answers in advance and then perform in class activities. It is a little too reading and writing focused for an in class activity of mine. So it would take more home prep before putting it to work in class.

This is a standard listening and information gap filling exercise that most of the books I use come with and I rarely if ever use them in class more likely assign it as homework or as optional home study depending on how important it is to generating speaking practice. I really try to avoid a lot of listening or reading and writing in class as I want that to be the speaking practice time.

This is quite realistically the simple level of elicitation, generation of options and choices, large and small group discussions and in class generation of ideas and dialogues practice which would work for me and the students I teach best out of these activities choices. I would use this. I would anticipate very few difficulties and as it has elements of play and games approach I know they would enjoy it. They would substitute dice with “scissors, paper, and rock” as I have found this is as decisive and equitable as group decision-making seems to get in Korea from my experience.

A very good example of a six minute English BBC broadcast. While it challenges my students with the accents and expressions (bloke-ish!) as a homework assignment I have had mixed feedback. Most Korean students are taught very simple dialogue listening without any real language conversation listening in terms of speed, syntax or vocabulary. For those who have complained to me about these issues I simply suggest it is good for them to have the transcripts and review a few times to get general gist rather than word for word understanding. Also when they complain that it is difficult I sometimes direct them to another listening site in California which is much more sedate and "American" (urbane?) in its presentation.

Negotiated Content: Opportunities and Pitfalls

Negotiated Content: Opportunities and Pitfalls

The negative reaction given to negotiating course content implies that the teacher is unprepared and unprofessional. Other possible negative reactions? For example, “we’re paying these people money to teach us and they don’t know what they want to teach us?” or “I chose this school because I thought they knew what they are doing and they’re asking me what to do?” Or positively,” Finally someone is treating me like an adult instead of a child and I get to be taught what I actually want to learn about.” Or “ No one has ever asked me what I want to learn before.” This last one could trigger fight or flight mechanism among some learners from some nations where a teacher is and only is the absolute authority in assessing a learner’s needs.

Here in Korea customer orientation in terms of product and service marketing has definitely improved over the years and I’m sure private language schools are becoming more student centred. However I have it on good authority that many stay at home moms are upgrading their learning to include courses in childhood education and or being fully qualified as elementary teachers in their spare time to increase their child's advantages in an academically cut-throat competitive nation. Then many of these ajumahs (“aunties”) are using this knowledge to further influence and direct the language learning being conducted by inexperienced foreign language teachers in various cram school “hagwons.”

In my own case I continue to upgrade my skills not only to inform my lessons but to fortify my knowledge and authority in the topic should someone barge in to my classes and attempt to direct my lesson plans. So far I have been given much freedom and I use it to try to give some freedom of choice to the students. However this culture has a highly regarded respect for teachers and teacher fronted lessons. At the same time my communicative efforts in classroom management (fluid student seating and alternating partners for pair work presentations and small group meetings) are often challenged by students nearly half my age but seemingly a lot like intransigent residents of a nursing home. There is the double indemnity of being a foreigner in this culture. One may not be as respectable as a local in their own skins while I may also be able to extract more learners focused communicative activities because of it.

I agree some learner inclusion is necessary and beneficial and use general and sporadic learner feedback to adjust my expectations. For example, students complained I gave too much homework in one of my first semesters of ESP: International Trade Correspondence. In hindsight they were right however at the time I felt they were under-performing intentionally. I have adjusted my expectations and reduced their homework load visibly to improved results. Students suggested I provide more homework demonstration and by doing so improve their performance of it. Students suggested last semester reducing outside class meetings from ten to eight hours a semester and I’m going to implement that. I have often read that Korean students frequently self-study topics of interest outside of their major courses of study due to perhaps not having chosen themselves but having their parents selecting their universities and courses of study for them. By giving them a freer choice in presentation topics of mid-term and final exams I feel I’m giving them the chance to activate their personal interests in international trade which is a hugely broad topic. Thereby I'm providing them an opportunity to learn more deeply of a self-selected topic sometimes more than anyone else does including myself.

Strong Arm Lesson Plans

Do you agree with how the teacher handled the situation?

This scenario seems to have arrived at a mutually agreed result however it appears to have been a battle of the wills in some respects. For example six hours of one on one lessons daily in my opinion appears rather grueling. Why not incorporate a little “free talking” with the subject of the day’s lessons being the topic as part of the daily lesson plan? It would provide feedback to the teacher as well as is recommended that needs analysis be regularly conducted. It would have diffused the learner’s initial expectations. In addition the negotiated verbal agreement could have simply been what had already been planned for. Free discussion of one’s lessons is a form of review and reinforcement of them.

Would you have dealt with it differently? If so, how?

As mentioned above I think I would have realized that adults do need some form of the learning cycle approach to their cognitive skills acquisition of learning tasks: experience, reflection, generalization and application. In one to one training there should be some freer forms of generalization and application otherwise it would become quite stifling in my opinion much like drilling rather than enjoying the learning topics. As Richardson has suggested bringing office realia or real communication challenges that the learner experiences into the learning program would composite/reflect “free talking” opportunities.

Would you agree that this is an example of teacher and learner negotiating course content?

It is perhaps an example of negotiated course content. However a well prepared teacher would know how to incorporate “free talking” into their lesson plans I think.

On an aside I taught two evening sessions of mixed adult conversation classes in my first cram school for two years virtually two hours a week with almost the same cadre of half a dozen students coming through. While I would have used a book more frequently we might have gotten through half of a book in two years. My boss was not concerned about return as quote, “we’re making enough money on the kids classes don’t worry about them.”

It really was a free talking class and if it wasn’t they wouldn’t have come back. It was almost my personal fan club or something like, "pull the white monkey's tail or feed the white monkey bananas or get the white monkey drunk, etc." Learners often negotiate their lessons in Korea with their pocketbooks and if teachers expect too much they just walk out the door to the next cram school as the schools and teachers as has been quoted here before “dimes a dozen” at last estimate 35,000 cram schools teaching conversational English in Korea.

I don’t know how many times I had drunken agashis ("young ladies") or ajohshis (“uncles”) elbowing or otherwise dominating class topics despite incomprehensible and guttural English. At times grinding crackers into carpets would have been more useful practice but that’s what they wanted. However everybody paid and everybody kept coming back. In smaller cities I guess entertainment comes in fewer forms. I guess what I'm saying is the teacher in the scenario could have provided pockets of learning disguised as free talking time and not wasted those nine hours. By the way, fifteen years later my fan club down south stills begs me for visits.

Friday, January 21, 2011

ESP: International Business Correspondence

International Business Correspondence: This is a topic that I do regularly teach as a required course over two twelve week semesters annually. I have been teaching this branch specifically for five years. Initially I was sanctioned for giving too much homework. I have since reduced the work load. Materials that I currently use look a lot like a beast of many sources. For example I use portions of these texts as presentation samples and classroom activities across a wide variety of specific letters patched and scrapped together.

Here is a sample of my syllabus from Spring 2008

March 5 - Intro. International Trade English
March 7 - Intro. International Trade English
March 12 - Establishing Business Relationship Letter
March 14 - Business Proposal Letter
March 19 - Credit Inquiry Letter
March 21 - Offer and Acceptance Letters
March 26 - Order and Acknowledgement Letters
March 28 - Agreement on General Terms and Conditions
Feb 2 - Remittance and Letter of Credit
Feb 4 - Remittance and Letter of Credit 2
Feb 9 - Shipment Letters
Feb 11 - Insurance
Feb 16 - Claim Letters
Feb 18 - Midterm Exams
Feb 23 - Midterm Exams
Feb 25 - Business Proposal Letter 2
Feb 30 - Credit Inquiry Letter 2
May 2 - Trade Inquiry 2
May 7 - Offer and Acceptance Letters 2
May 9 - Offer and Acceptance Letters 3
May 14 - Order and Confirmation Letters 2
May 16 - Agreement on General Terms and Conditions 2
May 21 - possible festival
May 23 - possible festival
May 28 - Remittance and Letter of Credit 3
May 30 - Remittance and Letter of Credit 4
June 4 - Shipment Letters 2
June 6 - Holiday
June 11 - Claims and Adjustments 2
June 13 - Review
June 18 - Final Exams
June 20 - Final Exams

It roughly repeats itself twice, twice over in both halves of the course with the second half a little deeper in terms of content. Coincidentally in compiling this brief list of texts below I noticed a majority of these books have gone missing from my shelves and seem to have "grown legs" over the years:

(Much better than you would think for an oldie)

Business Correspondence: A Guide to Everyday Writing, Intermediate (2002) Lin Lougheed (A little high level for my folks but can be simplified)

(Not cheap but useful)

A handbook of commercial correspondence (1992) A. Ashley
(Getting harder to find but useful)

These are a few websites which have proven useful to me: (good books for 99 cents)

Same but Different: Needs for Needs Assessments

As DOS it is now your responsibility to devise one or more needs analyses for these two market segments. Apart from the points covered in the readings so far you will also need to consider:

First of all there is a dual focus of in company versus group school classes. DOS needs to determine which is possible for each individual student depending upon what resources and number of teachers available for in-house versus in school lessons. This might be a serious logistical constraint. For example minimum groups of six may have to collect a number of interested and available students before the bus can roll on so long lead time could be required during which we may lose students unwilling to wait to start for an in school class to be full. In 1 to 1 cases we need to increase the cost of the overall program as one teacher could just as easily be teaching six students multiplying our income and reducing unit costs of instruction and at the same time allow it to be attractive enough to acquire a contract. In London I’m sure pricing is competitive for 1 to 1 lessons in company.

from whom you will want to gather the information. Is it the learner? The learner's line manager/HR manager? Both?

DOS does need to consult with all of company prescribed and ascribed needs for 1 to 1 training. The learner is perhaps being financed by the line manager and/or HR Department where the “need to know” skills could be fairly explicitly documented in terms of cognitive skills sitting in a file somewhere already. However this may not be the case. We need to evaluate learner’s current abilities and future goals of attainment as result of training. As our lesson resources plan is inflexible it would be like assembling the ingredients (tasks and skills) from a cookbook of lessons or looking at the learner's profile and overlaying our available lessons to cover that profile of needs. What we would not want to do is set out to teach skills the learner already has or knows. At the same time we need to be assured that the learner is motivated to improve the same skills that his or her manager/HR Department seeks them to have. Everyone needs to be in on the same page and perhaps have all of them sign an agreement on the needs analysis performed after any amendments are made for the design of the individual course.

Does it depend on the market? If other people are involved, how will this be handled?

As Case suggested we need to balance the needs between the learner and his or her employer with some diagnostic testing for 1 to 1 lessons. In the case of in school groups we are already assessing similar needs and language levels by a more general approach to group needs with less emphasis on tailoring the lessons to specific individual needs. Our task is a little easier in needs assessment in this case the learner’s current skills are used fairly simply to place him or her in a group of similar needs and language levels.

Length of time spent on the needs analysis - both by the person taking it and the person evaluating it.

Needs Analysis for 1 to 1 learners will be more complex with more specific questions as Case suggests in his needs analysis sample skills and language as well as written texts, speaking and listening would reveal minimum needs but as Richardson also suggested these milestones need to be set to measure progress and re-evaluated frequently enough to adjust scope of training based on measurable progress frequently enough to satisfy continuously reassessed learner needs. These needs would require collection from learner, manager and HR department to find shared ascribed and prescribed interests to create a satisfactory learning program. It would take more time and the assessment itself should be perhaps be paid for in advance of the lessons.

In contrast the group dynamic of a class of six students would require more inter-student practical training and therefore more adoption of an in class versus out of class student feedback assessment which could take the form of many topic discussions on what lessons be taught versus what could be less important to the group. One form of group assessment called NGT (Nominal Group Technique) could be performed in an introductory lesson or a couple of consecutive sessions. It allows for group discussion and brainstorming as Case and Richardson both emphasized allowing students to share priorities for learning tasks and selecting those most important across the group. In addition it adds learner ownership to the lessons to be taught and therefore acts as a motivation tool. It's hard to complain about what you are being taught if you had a chance to add your own priorities to that list of lessons.

how detailed you will want the analysis/analyses to be for the two markets given the different circumstances.

1 to 1 training in company will need to meet in company documentation standards which could be quite detailed or even non-existent. The trainer should intend to provide a measurable set of needs and goals to the company HR or manager to provide evidence of record for the studies performed and the budget expended on it and perhaps quick reference where necessary for future learning programs. In addition needs assessment will provide the next trainer a road-map of a particular learner’s progress and will help build better needs assessments in future. In school group class needs assessments would be more general in nature but provide market reading data on what current students need or want in group studies and will help the DOS ensure that these are being met by regular end of class feedback questionnaires either weekly or at agreed set milestones on the ten weeks course. So for the first market our needs assessment must be more tailored for our learning customer who when satisfied will perhaps return to us for future 1 to 1 training and in the second our class needs and assessments assist us in ensuring our courses are always full because we listen to our students and address their needs by adjusting the lessons to meet them.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Kraft – the foodstuffs company

Kraft – the foodstuffs company

•Very brief company history

“Canadian-born and of German origin, James L. Kraft started a wholesale door-to-door cheese business in Chicago in 1903.” By 1914 several varieties of cheeses were being sold and by 1915 pasteurized processes developed a longer shelf life cheese and by 1916 bought its first Canadian cheese company. First corporate listed on Chicago Stock Exchange in 1926 establishing offices in London and Hamburg in 1927. Represented 40% 0f US cheese market in 1930. Ground breaking radio and television marketing campaigns from the 1930s to the 1960s. Diversified buyouts and takeovers throughout its history and in the 1980s including loss leading non-food brands such as Duracell and Tupperware. Became known as Kraft General Foods as of 1988 following buyout by Philip Morris Corporation and merger with General Foods. Name was changed in 1995 to Kraft Foods. Since the 1990s has aggressively pursued food brand takeovers similar to LVMH strategy of buying loss taking but high profile marquee products from other food mega-corporations such as Wrigley’s chewing gum, Group Danone’s cookies and cereals divisions and Cadbury confectioners. Last month Kraft announced it would move Cadbury’s British head office to Switzerland to avoid paying corporate taxes in the UK.

Global Head Office: Northfield, Illinois

•Range of products / services / areas of interest

Over fifty-four marquee food brands of confectionary (such as Cadbury, Toblerone, Cakester) snacks (such as Ritz crackers, Triscuit, Oreos, Chips Ahoy) beverages (such as Tang and Kool-Aid), cheese ( such as Philadelphia, Kraft, Cheez Whiz), and ready meals ( such as Macaroni and Cheese), and grocery items (Maxwell House coffee, Halls, Dentyne).

Kraft continues to grow its international markets now holding only 49 per cent of its total annual business in North America with 25 per cent in developing markets and 25 per cent in Europe.

•Some facts & figures (e.g. annual turnover or net sales, number of staff, locations, etc.)

Kraft is the second largest food business in the world. Annual revenues exceeded $48 billion dollars as of 2009. Its largest brands each generate in excess of $1 billion dollars annually. These include: “Kraft, Jacobs, LU, Maxwell House, Cadbury, Trident, Milka, Nabisco and its Oreo brand, Philadelphia, and Oscar Mayer.” 80% of all revenues come from products holding the leading share of each sales category. More than half of all incopme is generated from products where market share exceeds competitors by more than 50 per cent.

Approximately 140,000 employees

•Company values (with editorial news-speak)

“We understand that actions speak louder than words, so at Kraft Foods:

We inspire trust. (Reliability: but don’t like to pay taxes)

We act like owners. (Responsibility: if we don’t already own it we’ll buy it soon)

We keep it simple. (Simplicity: most of our products dominate their markets with few competitors)

We are open and inclusive. (Inclusiveness: like a giant amoeba that swallows smaller companies)

We tell it like it is. (Honesty: if you don’t like what we sell you can’t buy anything else)

We lead from the head and the heart. (Logic and passion: A dividend yielding cash cow popular with Warren Buffet/Oracle of Omaha.)

We discuss. We decide. We deliver. (Communication, Decisiveness, Provides moments of truth to customers: Gobbles up food brands worldwide) ”

•Anything else you find of interest

A mega-corporation with global reach: I like it more than Nestle because it doesn’t appear to sell breast milk substitutes in Africa which help cause huge infant mortality rates there among other possibly nefarious pursuits.

•why you chose this particular company

This is a familiar brand quite popular with Canadian students for its Kraft Dinner(TM) or affectionately known as “KD” macaroni and powdered/processed cheese mix. Prior to the MTV Age when most Canadian households did not have access to cable television Kraft advertisements dominated prime viewing time with high frequency and reach. I would estimate a majority of Canadian consumers over the age of approximately thirty are brand loyal consumers of many Kraft products with high cost to switch them to competitor brands through any scale of marketing or promotion techniques.

These days "KD" has several flavor varieties and you just add a little milk, butter or margarine and season to taste. Some like it dry, some like it creamy, some like it like soup, etc. It used to cost about a quarter a box. Now I think it’s up to around 99 cents.

•where your information is from [Accessed: January 19, 2011]

•how you think having this kind of information would help with your work in the company

Knowledge of the diversity and core product lines as well as their market shares will help identify departmental or brands-related learning needs. For example, interviews with members of core marketing teams would focus either on North American markets which probably do not require much BE training versus international and European teams which may be a focus of BE training. Rates of local indigenization in upper management would help determine the opportunities for advancement for those taking BE learning programs. Rather than expect BE training as a rewards based system it might have a clear advancement focus and requirement in the company as international assignments might involve quite a lot of expatriate postings and opportunities for intercultural pre-assignment BE training.

•any other resources you may like to suggest for this kind of company research

Online searches for freelance BE training assignments might be available through previous job opportunities listings. However such a large corporation might have in-house BE trainers and therefore seeking to connect with them and enquiring about new opportunities globally might be rewarding.

Monday, January 17, 2011

e-Commerce is Relevant to My Students

•Do you think the e-commerce topic as handled in these resources would be appropriate for all kinds of business English learners?

It is a relevant topic for my students I am not sure it would apply to everyone. They also take an e-commerce course in Korean just down the hall and as I cover this for 3 hours of speaking practice while they cover it for 3 hours a week they might benefit from more of it. I have met several e-commerce entrepreneurs mostly from around Busan where they rent small office-tel -like warehouses in a few residential/commercial mix areas. Koreans are "electronic guinea pigs" with one of the fastest and most efficient same day delivery service couriers networks in the world.

•Would you exploit the online resource with a group of pre-intermediate business English learners. If so, how?

I have been routinely exploiting online resources over the last five years and seem to be integrating new methods. First I set all of the homework assignments for the twelve weeks of study on USB and require students to collect at the beginning of semester on USB. For some its the first time they encounter a USB requirement. They are then required to submit by weekly deadline their responses to the discussion questions and vocabulary practice as well as response to listening activity by email. While I provide them with links to webpages for their answers I expect it to be in their own words. So yes I've been exploiting this with even beginner learners.

•Would you use both the online and the course book activity? If so, how?

I give parallel homework assignments to the general topics of each in class chapter that we are covering that week. In some ways this is me responding to the “paperless office” initiatives I see in Australia for example. However I still require hard copy of PPT presentations and accompanying scripts on paper for in office review and/or correction. I may soon require all five slides on one page and script on the other to absolutely minimize paper usage beyond books of course.

•Would you use the resources in a class setting? Would you use it as self-study? How would you ask the learners to respond to this material?

I have used and use very similar resources in my classes. We would engage the in classroom materials in class and I might provide a web demonstration in class of what they needed to do online for discussion questions. We sometimes review their answers together or as email submissions.

•Would you deal with this topic differently? If so, how?

It could be a pair assignment with the reading done at home and in class questions relating to challenging vocabulary would be covered. In general I save reading assignments for homework and prefer to do the real speaking tasks in class.

However I dealt/deal with someone was listening. Yi Yang, one of my Chinese students a few years ago from an obscure rural environment set up his own sales website online in China selling skype calling cards. He did generate up to two to three hundred dollars a day in sales and proceeded to buy his mother a house in Beijing. The last I heard he was working in Skype’s Head Office in China.

Skills-based Approach

Skills-based Approach

I am in agreement with the structure presented here as a skills-based lesson approach. However some of the realities of a large classroom necessitate some adjustments to form as you may see below.

• Set the scene: While I do use the openers in my course books I find a simple review question such as, “What did you learn last lesson?” for lesson splits helps as well as an opener.

• Break down the different stages: Related to any topic I find the more progressive stages require a closer or short evaluation exercise which I require students to perform at the end of each lesson to gauge their grasp of the previously taught topic before we move on to the next one.

• Elicit and/or present phrases and vocabulary: In theory this works well but in practice in large classroom I sometimes prefer to set the question to the group provide some time to prepare an answer and them randomly select. Otherwise in nearly all cases it would almost always be the same people giving responses.

• Set students one or more activities which allow them to practice the phrases in a controlled setting: This is something I routinely practice but I like to put time pressure on it for example I’ll tell them you have five minutes to do this, etc.

• Set students a task which allows them to practice the language in a freer manner: Oh yes, this is quite engaging and students love being the center of satisfying attention when they are well prepared to do this. Smiles and laughter all around.

• Peer- and teacher-feedback on their performances: On occasion I have peer feed-back but could probably use more of it. However outside class group activities probably sustain a lot more peer feedback. Students get my feedback on end of class evaluation activities something like Caesar; a thumbs up or thumbs down approach. In a class of forty my last real question to wrap up is, “Do you want to go home?” I then set up their exit evaluation. If their performance is unsatisfactory they must simply sit down and wait to do it again.

Learner Profile: Young Hee

Learner Profile: Young Hee

•the teaching context and any considerations arising from this

Context is a Business College in Sydney, Australia. Opportunities include: multi-cultural classroom environment and foreign country language learning environment. Both are often challenging to find in Korea however also not guaranteed as many Koreans tend to congregate abroad in preferred colleges. Where the opportunity for work-study visa designation exists may allow English practice outside the classroom in a work related environment however this may be minimal and depends upon student motivation. Two hours of classes per day four days a week is not highly intensive but if scheduled in the morning allows afternoon part-time work placement over 18 months assuming it’s a two year program of study.

•the category of learner you think your chosen case is

Learner self identifies as pre-intermediate business English student with skills challenged by time pressure, complex sentence construction and displays basic abilities in message taking and short emails but under time pressure is incapable of real world office situations. This is often the highest skills and abilities levels attained by a majority of Korean English language learners. Listening skills are good in class but real world application of studies is limited. Finds English quite complicated compared to Japanese and Korean which are more similar to each other than virtually any other languages.

•the needs, specific goals, areas of interest the learner has either expressed or you think they may have

Learner expresses interest in clerical or secretarial position and a need to operate in an office environment to understand and respond to complex messages and emails from English language clients. While she expresses an interest in working for Samsung nearly every Korean desires to work for one of Korea’s more famous companies. While her ambition may be seen as quite low it reflects the reality of Korea which to some extent is still quite paternal and male-dominated as a society where young women are not expected to rise far above clerical or lower management positions and seen somewhat as liabilities in the work place for their tendency to marry and have children. While this could be slowly changing most women exit the business workplace soon after either marriage or their first child.

•anything else you think may be helpful

It is to some extent frustrating but realistic to see this case study and does go a long way to explain why Korea among the OECD nations spends more than any other on education and English language studies as a proportion of GDP. Yet at the same time Korea ranks if not at the bottom then very near the bottom in terms of functional abilities or results of such a large spend. Practical application of in class studies in the Korean business environment is rare to nil. I am often disappointed to see how quickly former students of mine have simply abandoned practice and become nearly unintelligible with the language in as little as three months. While their long term memory is intact the necessary short term usage activation of their cognitive skills quickly atrophies in a slide into language attrition.

•It also might be interesting to add why you chose this particular type of learner to define.

I chose this learner because she is the one I am most familiar with. Activates English through coursework or classroom practice only and rarely if ever extends that to real world working environment. It is a communicative tragedy I have witnessed again and again. I do think the only way to keep one of these "girls" speaking English would be to marry her myself and put her to work in my own company.

Making Language Learning Real

Making it real.

For my speaking classes, I have been using core texts and rely on Market Leader Beginner and Pre-Intermediate (Oxford) for in class speaking activities. I like the task based flexible usage of these texts. To this I add a flexible seating arrangement making sure that Korean and Chinese students are paired as much as possible and as infrequently with the same partner as possible. I have evolved to this as I have found students do not seem to get to know many other classmates without encouragement. I also resist assigned seating for the same reason. When you are dealing with forty it is a zoo out there.

Regular weekly email assignments include discussion questions similar to those at the Oxford supplemental website which focus on chapter topics, a handful of vocabulary specific to international trade English and listening activities sourced from the BBC Six Minute English series. Last semester I added a randomly selected core small group study assignments schedule with ten outside class hourly weekly meetings. The materials used are up to the students and each team has a captain however I do provide free copies of Business Communication Games (Lloyd & Preier, 1996) and direct them to download resources from various free esl activities websites like bogglesworld. They must report their activities briefly either through short journal or email or even cellphone photographs.

Midterm and final exams test knowledge on homework topics previously covered in weekly assignments. Presentations pair-work focus on short easy to read articles with an international trade focus from google news selected by students and pre-approved by me (to avoid plagiarism) to construct a 300 word presentation (150 words each) supplemented by a five slide ppt. These activities are then presented in my office a week early to scan for construction issues. So far this is as real as I have been able to make it.

For my business correspondence courses samples of various cycles (Eg. enquiry letters, order letters, credit letters, etc.) are presented in class in lecture format. Accompanying short texts describing the purpose and use are supplemented by brief written questions. Standard full block business letter style and format are practiced throughout the term with selections of top twenty-five emerging market global businesses as hypothetical senders or receivers of various letter types. This requires students to visit those company websites to extract details, descriptions and specifications of products. Similar midterm and final exams include a written portion reviewing previously identified points as well as ppt presentations which require a constructed letter identifying its purpose and useful vocabulary and phrases. Of my two courses this one is much drier and is to hopefully be the focus of my improvements here. The content is fairly prescribed by department as well as the output of homework. It is a "look but do not touch" kind of course and sadly is the way many Koreans approach English. I sneak practical application in where I can.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Old but new to me!

Richard Haass on American Decline

"With American power in decline, who will fill the vacuum? China? India? For many, this may be good news, but be careful what you wish for, says Richard Haass, a prominent American foreign policy analyst."

What Are Business English Learners?

•How helpful do you find the categories Evan suggests in building a profile of business English learners?

I think it’s helpful and mirrors the local teaching environment here in Korea. The transition to business English teacher here can often be made in Seoul in particular working part-time hours in various corporations. For example I have acquaintances who have asked my advice on teaching materials for such situations where they have been given a job to do but may not have had the experience previously.

•Which of the categories mentioned do you think Eric may have had upper-most in mind during his interview? Why?

I think his direction towards sitting in on meetings and so on leads to the in company business English position more than the others. That would be challenging in Korea unless one has superior Korean language skills it might be challenging to understand those meetings. Frequently “kyopos” or American/Canadian Koreans take these p/t in company positions for this reason. However approximately 1.5 years of full-time Korean language studies would probably go very far for anyone contemplating making a move for corporate positions here.

•Have you had any experience of the teaching contexts described?

Certainly I work in the institutional category beginning my sixth year as an international trade and management instructor. Daejin University is a second tier school here in Korea but with proximity to Seoul our Department of International Trade and Management interviews about twenty to thirty applicants for every seat in freshmen year entry with about fifty entering for a four year program each year. I have two courses split over two semesters which are required and one focuses on business communicative competency and the other on understanding and responding to international business correspondence. These are generally taken by second or third year students. Two optional courses include an introductory general business English and an upper level global negotiation course.

•Which do you think you are mostly likely to experience?

As my experience is institutional I try to take it as it comes. I actually got this job because I applied for a general English position in another department almost at the same time that the recruiter received a new job order from this school. It was very late in the hiring period and the skills and needs matched so perfectly with cv they didn’t even interview anyone else. They did call my references and apparently everyone said the same thing, “He’s a very hard worker.”

•Which do you think present the greatest challenge and/or rewards from a teaching point of view? Why?

My students are pre-experienced so the challenge is in exposing them to communicative needs that really don’t come online (if ever) for two or three years after they’ve taken my lessons. So I warn them not to burn their books. Job experienced former students often stay in touch with me and I do get a few who are working in import/export trade, international financing as well as going on to further specializations in graduate studies or private learning abroad.

I find it quite rewarding to measure their progress and keep informed of their successes following graduation. Private language schools in Korea are usually not well business oriented and tend to deliver general English for the most part not requiring much higher learning beyond a BA degree among instructors. I’ve already worked in the cram schools and found it to be a proving ground for better benefits positions at universities and their associated institutes.

In company positions can be in high demand but the often part-time nature would be unsatisfactory to me as I prefer a regular salary which seems to meet my Herzberg hygiene needs. I would say 1 to 1 business English teaching would possibly be the most challenging but also could be quite rewarding. While I have taught elementary, middle-school, high-school in one to one experiences this requires very high motivation among learners and really the level of results appears to depend upon the learner’s self-motivation. However it would be interesting to teach a company CEO 1 to 1 I think I'd learn quite a lot from that.

Re: You get out what you put in to BE teaching.

Cross cultural management behaviour was one of my favourite courses and I have kept reading on it and it will be interesting to discuss this topic.

"there's no way to "fake" business knowledge and no way to really substitute it": That has been my experience especially in slogging through operations management and/or financial management accounting (a couple of my weaker topics). For example I need to review new Incoterms 2010 to get up to speed for next semester's lessons. It's a challenge to balance communicative capacities practice with minimal "need to knows" among students whom for a majority have not even held a part-time job and where maybe 10% of them may actually use English in their future career.

Re Hertzberg: I think in many ways my current position has allowed a lot of these self-actualization benefits to take place in my work and continued study. Especially in terms of autonomy there's never been anyone micro-managing me here. When I feel a need to learn more about something I just take a course and try to refine what I deliver to the students.

I've always felt the mind can be so actively under-challenged by work we must make new tasks for ourselves to measure our own progress. I don't like being bored. And if we believe in improving quality of our workers or students we must begin with ourselves. My pet peeve with my students is that they seem to think the only important thing about a job is how much money they make or that money buys happiness. I think many cultures in the world have had their core values hijacked by this theme paradoxically the profits of globalization help to generate a myth.

I think these hygiene factors have a lot of similarities with Maslow's Higher Needs. And Deming always said to get your workers to do a good job you must show them what you want them to do first. In short, "I am a responsible idiot."

Thursday, January 13, 2011

You get out what you put in to BE teaching.

I'd like to learn more about the Herzberg Hygiene factors as they are completely unfamiliar to me. My studies have focused extensively on strategic management and competitive business analysis using Porter's 5 forces among other frameworks. I also completed a course in cross cultural management for my MIB and have actually read much of Trompenaars and have several of his books on my shelf. However I find Edward T. Hall to be much more accessible to general reading along the same topic although an earlier era of research which was more tentative.

When I was in Abu Dhabi my job was extremely boring. I would sit and attend work six months of the year lolling in my office most of each half day perhaps with 1.5 hours of classes a week where one of twenty students were awake (never the same one). I learned to write all of the workbook answers on the boards just to stay awake. Sure I saved money and I could travel but I was wasting my enjoyment of work (an important hygiene factor).

So down the road in Dubai I went to an annual educational fair. Dr. Stephanie Jones recommended my graduate program at UOWD saying, "You'll be able to do anything you want with this." It is true. It's funny because when I was finished I did have diverse offers to enter active business management around the world but I didn't take any of them. I was convinced I would make a good teacher of this topic somewhere and honestly I missed Korea. I have to say I could not have my current job if I did not complete an MIB. But it did take a good two to three years actively searching to find it by accident. I think there's no way to "fake" business knowledge and no way to really substitute it. Of course real business people might say there is no way to substitute business work experience. However I think somewhere along the line when you have actually read more than enough it just starts coming out of your ears and you are suddenly useful to everybody.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Stupendous song

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Another song I heard lately that I like...

Doctoral Research Fellowship

School of Business and Economics
Department of Management

Doctoral Research Fellowship with 1/2 time employment
E 13 TV-L FU) for 3 years with option of extension

Research in the area of human resource management and labor politics with an interest and background in at least one of the following areas: corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, international or comparative HRM. The candidate will be expected to engage in teaching in the BSc degree in management.


  • Completed MSc degree or equivalent in a relevant social science, including business management, sociology or political science is required.

  • Very strong English skills, international experience, and some basic knowledge of German are desirable.

Applications with a cover letter, CV, and short description of a PhD topic should be sent by 07.February.2011 with the following reference number 10016100/10/WM10 to the following address

Freie Universität Berlin
Fachbereich Wirtschaftswissenschaft
Herrn Prof. Dr. Gregory Jackson
Boltzmannstr. 20
14195 Berlin (Dahlem)

Prof. Dr. Gregory Jackson

Freie Universität Berlin

Fachbereich Wirtschaftswissenschaft, Institut für Management

(School of Business & Economics, Dept of Management)

Boltzmannstraße 20

D-14195 Berlin (Germany)

Telefon: +49 30 838 56 809
Working papers: