But we have a contract!


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Evan Frendo: Many of the people we teach have to deal with contracts in English, and the language of contracts is a common topic in business English teaching. The problem is that teaching the language is often not enough - different cultures have different perspectives on the role and function of contracts, and our learners need to be able to deal with this aspect too. In this brief talk I will discuss some of these perspectives, and suggest ways you can incorporate them into language training.

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But we have a contract!

  1. 1. But we have a contract! Evan Frendo BESIG Webinar 30 September 2010
  2. 2. Outline <ul><li>Different perspectives </li></ul><ul><li>Training activities </li></ul>
  3. 3. Some quotes I ’ m sorry. Someone else signed the contract. We have to re-negotiate. Let’s start anyway. The contract is in the post. They are obsessed with paper. A piece of paper is meaningless – people count, not papers!
  4. 4. Not flexible enough. They sign, and then they ignore it. They just change specifications, materials, delivery dates without telling anyone. Anything to save money. They don ’ t care that our customers won ’ t accept their changes. It ’ s not their problem. I am happy to work without contracts, or at least I can live without them. The problem is that my boss can ’ t.
  5. 5. Are they honest? Not sure. They have different rules for what is right or wrong. They have the wrong priorities. If we take a lawyer with us he just advises us not to do business with such people. This doesn ’ t solve the problem!
  6. 6. Tensions <ul><li>Contract is framework, not details. </li></ul><ul><li>Contract is between people not companies. </li></ul><ul><li>Contract is unimportant – trust is what matters. </li></ul><ul><li>Contract is inflexible. People are flexible. </li></ul>(Frendo & Hsu, 2010, p.85)
  7. 7. Some other issues
  8. 8. Legal terminology <ul><li>“ legal terminology is so culture bound (the reasons being at the same time historical, sociological, political and jurisprudential) that a satisfactory translation of all the legal terms of one text from one context to another is at times impossible.” </li></ul>(Gotti, 2004, p.6)
  9. 9. Not just a text (Bhatia, 2010, p.34)
  10. 10. Market pressure There ’ s never enough time to really get to know your business partner. Long term relationships don ’ t exist in the real world. It ’ s about money and profit, pure and simple. Everyone is under so much pressure from their own customers. Teams change so fast. This is done on purpose, so that suppliers and buyers don ’ t form personal relationships.
  11. 11. Training activities <ul><li>Discussions </li></ul><ul><li>Anecdote circles </li></ul><ul><li>Critical incidents </li></ul><ul><li>Role-plays and simulations </li></ul>
  12. 12. Negotiation role-play (loop input) <ul><li>Divide the class into two (or more) teams </li></ul><ul><li>Each team takes a perspective about contracts which they will have to adopt / defend (see quotes page) </li></ul><ul><li>Negotiate a framework for dealing with contracts </li></ul>(Loop input - Woodward, 1991)
  13. 13. References <ul><li>Anecdote Circles – see http ://www.anecdote.com . </li></ul><ul><li>Bhatia, V. K. (2010). Interdiscursivity in professional communication. Discourse and Communication, 21 (1), 32–50. </li></ul><ul><li>Frendo, E., & Hsu, S. (2010). Working in Asia. Berlin: Cornelsen. </li></ul><ul><li>Gotti, M. (2004). Specialised Discourse in Multilingual and Multicultural Contexts. ASp , 5-20. </li></ul><ul><li>Woodward, T. (1991). Models and Metaphors in Language Teacher Training: Loop Input and Other Strategies. Cambridge: CUP. </li></ul>