TESL 2010 Conference Presentation- Tuula Lindholm

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What do Soft Skills Have to do with Language?

What do Soft Skills Have to do with Language?

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  • 1. What do Soft Skills Have to do With Language? Tuula Lindholm, Algonquin College, Ottawa ©Lindholm, 2010 Reproduction allowed by permission of author only for non-commercial educational purposes, provided that the copyright statement appears on all materials and that prior permission is granted by author
  • 2. About Your Presenter
    • Develops curricula and teaches in Career Bridging Programs with multiple partners, leading directly to job placements and employment
    • Teaches Occupation-Specific Language (OSL ) - tied to subject specializations in fast-track programs offered to IEP in the financial services and IT industry, engineering, and health care professions
  • 3. Occupation-Specific Language
    • NOT the same as OSLT in community colleges
    • Targets high level language learners at CLB 7+ in profession-specific career bridging programs that lead to licensing and/or employment
    • Designed for IEP in engineering, financial services, pharmacy, and the health care sector which face acute labour shortages
  • 4. Why Occupation-Specific Language?
    • Integrated with subject studies in post-secondary career bridging programs with employers as partners
    • Language tied with development of communicative competencies to allow for smoother transition to the workplace
    • Graduates expected to “bridge” the gaps between “what they already know and what they’re expected to know”
  • 5. What are Soft Skills? Negotiation Skills & Personal Responsibility Interpersonal Communication Skills Teamwork Management of Time & Personal Life Performance Expectations Customer Service Ability to communicate (language) is deeply imbedded in these soft skills. Finding a job and keeping it require use of many soft skills that are often hidden and need to be made more explicit
  • 6. Trying Out Your Soft Skills
    • Take a minute to think how you would summarize your career in 30 seconds to someone who does NOT know you
    • When ready, please turn to your neighbour and exchange your quick “elevator speech or bio” with each other
    • Time each other’s speech to stay within the limit!
  • 7. How Did You Do? What is required to make an Elevator Speech? Para phrasing What to include Cultural know-how What to leave out Why? How? Creating impressions Thinking quickly For whom?
  • 8. What Do Hiring Employers Say?
    • 80% of approx. 12,000 employers, surveyed by Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said language barriers hold back newcomers in workplaces (2006)
    • TRIEC’s 2005 consultations with employers indicated that soft skills, language competency, and communication with other workers are significant issues that arise after hiring
  • 9. Employers report to colleges to…
    • Express concerns that weak language and soft skills lead to potentially serious performance errors, health & safety issues, and difficulty communicating with co-workers and managers
    • (Canadian Labour and Business Council, 2008)
  • 10. What is language and what is behaviour? Do we teach? How to answer “tell me about yourself” by having an “elevator speech” ready, for example Do we teach? How to resolve differences, using emotional intelligence (EQ) skills and other resources Do we teach? Understanding who the reader is what h/she really needs to know about the candidate Cover letter Job Interview Solving conflicts
  • 11. Teaching OSL involves… Knowing more about the sector’s work culture Connecting dots between behaviour and language Creating opportunities for students to grow personally Bringing the workplace into the classroom Shifting more responsibility for outcomes to students Evaluating progress more creatively
  • 12. Bridging Gaps not Just Careers Language Subject Studies Employment Preparation Career Transitioning ongoing ongoing Left to the end and often not planned well
  • 13. We’re Learning from Pilots
    • Ongoing and targeted career support to students is a MUST:
    • Involve mentors from the start
    • Include a Canadian Workplace Preparation course to teach soft skills
    • Teach writing resumes & cover letters that employers want to read
    • Provide sector-specific interview
    • coaching
  • 14. What do Students Say? “ I think what got me my job in the interview was when I was able to show I could summarize my past career in India in 30 seconds! The hiring team was impressed.” Dilip, a civil engineer “ I always thought my degree in pharmacy was all I needed in Canada. Didn’t understand that I needed to express empathy and talk with the customers about their medicine.”    Rashida, an international pharmacy grad “ I had no idea what the cover letter really means! I tried to cram my resume in it, so no wonder no one called me for an interview!” -- Mohammad, an accountant
  • 15. Employers Count on Immigrants for Business
    • “ In 2004, RBC was the 2 nd most profitable company in Canada. It is now better able to implement marketing plans with an employee base that is reflective of its clients” – www.hireimmigrants.ca
    • 150 specialized East Asian branches, serving clients in several Chinese dialects
    • New branches dedicated to serving the growing Middle Eastern and South Asian populations
  • 16. Thank You!
    • These slides are available on TESL Ontario website 2010 Conference page
    • Tuula Lindholm , OSL Professor
    • [email_address]
    • Internationally Trained Civil Engineering Technologist (ITCET) program
    • International Finance & Administration Professionals (IFAP) Pilot at
    • Algonquin College, Ottawa