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  1. 1. English for Work and the Workplace: Approaches, Curricula and Materials Current Developments in iateflCurrent Developments in English for Work and theWorkplace: Approaches, Curricula and Materials Current Developments inoffers a topical insight into current pedagogic practices, with a specific focus on E4W and E4WP.The IATEFL ESP SIG is very pleased to present this publication to its readers in the hope that the English for Work and the Workplace:book bridges a gap in the market while complementing other methodological ESP titles directlyor remotely related to the topic. Approaches, Curricula and Materials Mark Krzanowski Edited byThe ESP Special Interest Group (SIG) is one of fourteen SIGs at IATEFL and its main focus is on Englishfor Specific Purposes, English for Academic Purposes and English for Occupational/Professional Purposes. Edited by Mark KrzanowskiThe main objective of the SIG is to disseminate good practice in ESP (as well as in EAP and EO/PP) throughits membership and to promote models of excellence in ESP to ELT professionals internationally throughworkshops, seminars and conferences and through publishing the output in our Journal and in leadinginternational ELT Journals and periodicals. More information on the ESP SIGcan be found on http:/ G A R N E T E D U C AT I O N arnet E D U C A T I O N www.iatefl.orgISBN: 978 1 85964 653 3
  2. 2. ContentsForeword from the Editor 1Chapter 1 English in the workplace: An Austrian perspective 3 Hans Platzer and Désirée VerdonkChapter 2 Bakers don’t say ‘bread’: Designing appropriate ESP materials for 17 operating room technicians in Saudi Arabia Kieron DevlinChapter 3 A needs analysis for information technology service companies in Brazil 39 Rosinda de Castro Guerra RamosChapter 4 Targeting pressure points in the training of learners of English as a 51 second language in the workplace in Africa: The role of communication skills Bernard Mwansa NchindilaChapter 5 Effective English for conducting meetings and writing letters at 61 workplaces in India Meenakshi RamanChapter 6 Communication practices in workplaces and higher education 75 Christine WinbergChapter 7 New Zealand’s Language in the Workplace project: Workplace 91 communication for skilled migrants Meredith Marra, Janet Holmes and Nicky RiddifordChapter 8 English for the Workplace practices in Nigeria’s academic and 105 professional industries: 1990–2008 Adejoke JibowoChapter 9 Teaching English for the Workplace in Nigeria using literature and 113 the media Sunday I. DuruohaChapter 10 Teaching business English in Yemen: What and how? 131 Abdulhameed Ashuja’a
  3. 3. Chapter 11 Desert island development: Creating ESP courses for Omani 141 Air Force technicians Neil McBeathChapter 12 A pragmatic approach to workplace English in Botswana 153 Modupe M. AlimiAuthors Notes about Contributors 163
  4. 4. Foreword from the EditorEnglish for Work and the Workplace: Approaches, Curricula and Materials is a volume thatoffers 12 topical articles written by international English for Specific Purposes (ESP) and EnglishLanguage Teaching (ELT) specialists who have been at the forefront of current developments inthis sub-area of ESP and whose expertise informs the content of this book. All the articles havegone through a peer review process.Recent years have seen a revival of interest in English for Work (E4W)/English for theWorkplace (E4WP), and this has been reflected both in the output of major ELT publishers aswell as in the range of themed events organized by key language organizations and teachingassociations. The creation of this book is a result of international demand – numerous specificrequests have been made since the publication of the first two IATEFL ESP SIG books(sponsored by Garnet Education) which clearly favour E4W/E4WP as a potential topic for a newpublication. This volume has also been influenced by specific, focused events (conferences,seminars or symposia), for example, the English for Work Symposium (30 June–1 July 2008),University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, sponsored by the British Council(Sub-Saharan Africa); the English for Work and the Workplace Pre-Conference Event of IATEFLESP SIG (31 March 2009), Cardiff, UK; and the English for Work Hornby Summer School(April 2009), Cape Town, South Africa, sponsored by the British Council (Sub-Saharan Africa).All these events paid due attention to cutting-edge advances in the field and attracted theattention and interest of language teachers, educators, policy makers and publishing houses.The contributions in this compendium are mainly authored by the members of the IATEFL ESPSIG, who have done their best to emulate the good practice of the first two books in order tobring out the specific slant of E4W as an integral, but still distinct, part of ESP. There are also acouple of submissions prepared by the speakers from the African events mentioned above. Takentogether, the chapters offer a unique blend of various types of E4W theory and practice indiverse contexts.E4W and E4WP seem to have become new standard abbreviations that are now gainingwidespread currency alongside other key ELT acronyms and abbreviations, such as EAP, ELF,ESL, ESOL, EFL, TESOL, to mention but a few. Some consider these two ‘new’ terms to berevamped variations of EOP, i.e., English for Occupational Purposes. E4W/E4WP may connoteslightly different concepts in various geographical locations. In the UK, for example, ESOL forWork seems to be associated with state-funded courses for less-skilled professions (e.g., train orbus drivers, catering staff, tourist industry workers) as opposed to income-generating E4Wcourses offered by private language schools for highly skilled professions (e.g., bankers, lawyers,engineers). This distinction appears less pronounced in most other geographical locations,although it might be argued that emphasis is normally placed on key industries, depending onwhich specific type of E4W is required in a given context.In the process of compiling and editing this volume, many questions were asked aboutapproaches, curricula and materials in relation to E4W/E4WP. It may be impossible to answerthese queries with ready-made solutions. Regarding approaches, it seems that ESP professionalsare free to experiment with a range of methods and techniques. In most cases, the genericprinciples of ELT methodology work very well in E4W contexts; all that is needed is judicious PAGE 1
  5. 5. adaptation and modification as and when required. As for curricula, E4W/E4WP offers ESPteachers an opportunity to engage in designing syllabi and schemes of work for interesting,unique and unusual courses that pose meaningful but rewarding challenges. With regard tomaterials, again, E4W involves the practitioners in the process of materials adoption, adaptation,modification, creation, design and/or redesign. E4W/E4WP, like ESP and EAP or ESOL, will bewelcomed by all those teachers who value the challenges of the sub-discipline, such asconducting an effective needs analysis, meeting the needs and wants of diverse groups of learnersor, last but not least, embracing the specifics of a complex subject area.It is hoped that this book provides a selection of articles that will benefit a wide readership. Thearticles cover many unique or unusual aspects of ESP, which may well prove an attractive featurefor most readers. Hans Platzer and Désirée Verdonk give an interesting Austrian perspective onE4W/E4WP and try to determine whether the Austrian way is in any way different fromEuropean or international trends. Kieron Devlin provides a retrospective overview of designing atailor-made course for operating room technicians in Saudi Arabia and comprehensivelydescribes what made the course special and innovative.Rosinda Ramos reports on how Brazilian ESP experts are coping with the demand for E4Wamong the country’s IT companies. Bernard Nchindila reflects on the process of the tailor-madereport writing course offered to local police officers in South Africa. Meenakshi Raman sharesher experience of teaching English for meetings and writing letters, with reference to the Indianworkplace. Christine Winberg presents a study of communication practices in workplaces andhigher education in South Africa and shows how these differ, and why. Meredith Marra, JanetHolmes and Nicky Riddiford focus specifically on how E4W/E4WP is delivered to skilledmigrants in New Zealand and what the main challenges and successes are. Adejoke Jiboworeviews E4WP practices in Nigeria in academia and in the professional industries in the last twodecades, and discloses to what extent English is used in various institutions while providingample evidence as to why E4W is so important for this multilingual country. Sunday Duruohademonstrates how E4W can be successfully delivered through an adept and judicious use ofliterature and the media. Abdulhameed Ashuja’a focuses on E4W needs in Yemen and analyzesthe market forces which make a good knowledge of business English a key to professionalsuccess. Neil McBeath describes the minutiae of designing and delivering a challenging E4Wcourse to Omani aircraft engineering technicians. Last but not least, Modupe Alimi provides anextensive survey of approaches to training in E4WP in Botswana and backs up her study withrich statistical evidence and pedagogic guidance.English for Work and the Workplace: Approaches, Curricula and Materials offers a topicalinsight into current pedagogic practices with a specific focus on E4W and E4WP. The IATEFLESP SIG is very pleased to present this publication to its readers in the hope that the bookbridges a gap in the market, while complementing other methodological ESP titles directly orremotely related to the topic. I would like to thank all the authors for their contributions inwhich they have conveyed the spirit of their work and research. Special thanks goes to GarnetEducation for their continued support for the series of ESP SIG books.Mark KrzanowskiIATEFL ESP SIG CoordinatorAugust 2010 PAGE 2
  6. 6. CHAPTEREnglish in the workplace: An Austrian perspective 1Hans Platzer and Désirée Verdonk: Department of English,Fachhochschule Wiener Neustadt, Wiener Neustadt, AustriaE-mail: and economic case for language learning is best characterized by the fact that 11% ofcompanies polled in the ELAN survey (CILT, 2006) had lost contracts due to a lack oflanguage competence. However, language skills are also a success factor for individuals.Grin (2001) finds that language competence correlates with higher wage levels, and inAustria, language skills are a key factor in recruitment decisions (Archan & Dornmayr,2006). These facts should theoretically motivate individuals to improve job-related languageskills (E4WP) and employers to support language learning among staff. However, theSpecial Eurobarometer 243 records only moderate interest in learning languages, with thekey motivation being private as opposed to job-related, which is also reflected in Austriandata (Statistik Austria, 2004). Support from employers only materializes to a sufficientextent in large enterprises, both in the European and the Austrian context (Archan &Dornmayr, 2006; CILT, 2006; Platzer & Verdonk, 2003/2008a). Hence, neither employersnor individuals can be relied on to consistently meet the needs of the economy in providingcompetence in E4WP. For the foreseeable future, this responsibility will be borne by theeducation system. At the skills level, Austrian personnel managers demand that theeducation system focus mainly on spoken competence (Archan & Dornmayr, 2006), asentiment also echoed by CILT (2006). However, the ELAN survey data also revealed anurgent need for written competence, as companies routinely commission professionaltranslations and cite inadequate writing skills as a key reason for losing business. Theeducation system should therefore continue to take up the challenge of providing instructionin E4WP, without neglecting written skills, however, as these are demonstrably relevant foreconomic success.Keywords: employability, lifelong learning, motivation, spoken vs written skills, ESP,business English. PAGE 3
  7. 7. CHAPTER 11 Introduction1.1 BackgroundThe starting point of the following considerations is the 2000 Feira European Council which‘agreed […] to develop and implement coherent and comprehensive strategies for lifelonglearning’ and to contribute ‘to the establishment of a European area of lifelong learning’(European Commission, 2001, pp. 3–4). In respect of lifelong learning, two aspects meritspecial attention in our context. In the first instance, the Commission reiterates ‘theimportance of improving basic skills’ (European Commission, 2001, p. 22), one of thembeing competence in foreign languages. Secondly, the drive towards lifelong learning wasexpressly initiated in the context of the European Employment Strategy (EuropeanCommission, 2001), and consequently the Commission identifies ‘employability’ as a keyaim of lifelong learning (European Commission, 2001, p. 22).Because of the centrality of language skills and employability, both these concepts will informthe following observations. First of all, as the Commission postulates an economic impact oflanguage skills on individual workers (and hence their employability), Section 2.1 will brieflyreview language skills as an economic factor for the individual employee as well as forbusinesses. Secondly, the notion of boosting employability through language skills impliesteaching ESP as opposed to general English, while lifelong learning will also affect the wholeeducation system. Hence the role of the education system in the teaching of ESP will be thefocus of Section 2.2. Finally in Section 2.3, we shall concern ourselves with specific languageskills that are of particular relevance in the workplace. All these issues will be discussed againstthe background of several empirical surveys, providing data at three levels of aggregation.1.2 Relevant surveys(a) The most general, European, tier is represented by the ELAN survey dealing with ‘Effectson the European economy of shortages of foreign languages skills in enterprises’ (CILT,2006). This report illustrates the overall European situation of English in the workplace andcontains data gleaned from a questionnaire survey of 1,989 small and medium enterprises(SMEs) from 29 European countries (CILT, 2006, p. 61). The survey also includesinformation from a ‘representative sample of 30 large […] companies’ (CILT, 2006, p. 9).In addition, a previous, though smaller-scale, telephone survey had already been conductedby CILT in 2005 ‘involving approximately 50 respondents in the UK, France and Germany’from major multinational companies (CILT, 2005, p. 6).(b) At a lower level of aggregation, these European data are contrasted with an Austrianperspective based on two different surveys. First, Archan and Dornmayr (2006) carried outa questionnaire survey among chief executives and human resource managers from arepresentative sample of 2,017 Austrian companies (Archan & Dornmayr, 2006). Secondly,Weber (2005) presents findings gleaned from a more limited sample of 40 human resourcemanagers in large Austrian enterprises. Despite this comparatively small sample, these 40businesses nonetheless accounted for a total of 261,677 staff (Weber, 2005). PAGE 4
  8. 8. CHAPTER 1(c) Finally at the most detailed level, we will discuss selected data from two questionnairesurveys of our own, conducted in 2003 and 2008 at the Fachhochschule Wiener Neustadt(University of Applied Sciences). The Fachhochschule Wiener Neustadt offers 11 bachelor’sand 9 master’s programmes in business consultancy, engineering, health professions, policeleadership, and training and sports, with an intake of about 2,500 students a year. Themajority of students are enrolled in full-time programmes, however, several of the businessconsultancy and engineering programmes are run on a part-time basis, and it was themature, in-service students from these business and engineering programmes who werepolled on the use of English at their place of work. The samples were comparatively small(2003: N = 153; 2008: N = 165), but what sets off these data from all the above-mentionedsurveys is the fact that our respondents report on their own use of English in the workplace.By contrast, the surveys described under points (a) and (b) only provide information at oneremove, as personnel managers report on the surmised use of foreign languages in theircompanies, while the actual language users themselves, are not given any voice. For thisreason – and despite the small sample – we consider the responses of our subjects to be auseful check for the personnel managers’ observations.2 Results and discussion2.1 Economic impact of foreign language skillsThe economic case for fostering foreign languages in general, and English in particular, isbest characterized by the fact that 11% of companies polled in the ELAN survey had lostcontracts due to a lack of language competence (CILT, 2006). The survey also extrapolatedthat SMEs could reckon with an export sales proportion of an additional 44.5% if theyimplemented language management measures, such as appointing native speakers or usingtranslators/interpreters (CILT, 2006). With the economic role of foreign languages forbusinesses thus firmly established, the question now is whether the economic relevance oflanguage skills is translated into a premium that employers put on language competenceamong staff. This may be expressed either in a positive correlation of language skills andwage levels, or in a greater willingness of employers to hire polyglot staff. Looking at wagelevels, Grin (2001) conducted a survey among 1,944 Swiss nationals and concluded that‘English language skills are associated with significant earnings gains’, which is true ‘even atlower levels of competence’ (Grin, 2001, p. 73). Crucially, Grin assumes that, based onforeign trade per capita, these conclusions do not only hold true of Switzerland, but that ‘wewould expect similar results […] for the Netherlands, Austria, Germany, France and Italy’(Grin, 2001, p. 74). Moreover, from a solely Austrian perspective, the language skills of jobseekers also increase the likelihood of their actually being recruited. After all, half of theAustrian human resource managers polled by Archan and Dornmayr (2006) report thatlanguage competence ‘(almost) always’ or ‘often’ plays a role in recruitment decisions(Archan & Dornmayr, 2006, p. 60). PAGE 5
  9. 9. CHAPTER 12.2 Language training in businessesSection 2.1 has clearly shown that there is an economic case to be made for the lifelonglearning of foreign languages. However, the notion of lifelong learning, taken at face value,should then presumably mean picking up job-related skills such as ESP as one goes along,and not necessarily in the education system. As a consequence, this would theoretically shiftsome of the onus of providing ESP teaching away from the education system and on toemployers and language users. To ascertain whether employers and language users are up tothis task, we shall first take a look at the level of support provided by companies in regardto language learning, and secondly, at the willingness and the motivation of staff to take upforeign languages.As the figures in Table 1 suggest, the provision of support depends heavily on company size.The situation looks fairly satisfactory where large companies are concerned. At theEuropean level, 86% of large corporations provide their staff with support with regard tolanguage learning (Table 1). Austrian firms give support at a similar level (85%) and acomparable number (75%) of our respondents working in large corporations report thatthey are actually backed by their employers.Table 1: Support for language learning in companies Europe AustriaCompany size CILT (2006) Archan & Dornmayr Own survey (2008)(number of staff) (2006)Large (250+) 86% 85% 75%Medium-sized (50–249) 78% 37%Small (10–49) 49% 55% 15%Micro (0–9) 38%However, two things seem to be happening as we move on to SMEs. First of all – and notunexpectedly – the level of support drops (Table 1). At the European level, CILT (2006) has49% of SMEs giving support to staff, while in an Austrian setting, somewhat over threequarters (78%) of medium-sized enterprises foster language learning, with the figuredropping to 55% in small companies and 38% in micro-corporations. On the basis of theEuropean data, CILT (2006) concludes that ‘language training was a feature mainly oflarger companies. Medium sized and small companies could simply not afford to invest inthis training’ (CILT, 2006, p. 39). However, the amount of language training actually takingplace may be even lower than that. CILT (2006) observes that while 49% of firms reportthat they are offering language training, only 35% confirm that language training hadactually taken place. Hence, ‘there may be difficulties converting the offer of training intoactual take up’ (CILT, 2006, p. 34). This fact may also explain the discrepancy between thefigures reported by Archan and Dornmayr (2006) of Austrian human resource managers’responses and of our own respondents (Table 1). After all, while 78% of personnel PAGE 6
  10. 10. CHAPTER 1managers in medium-sized companies said that staff were offered support, only 37% of ourrespondents reported receiving support. A similar discrepancy can be observed in small andmicro-corporations, with 55% and 38% of managers, respectively, saying they providedsupport, and only 15% of staff in small firms (including micro-corporations) receiving back-up. At the European level, CILT concludes that the discrepancy between the level of supportreported and the training actually provided ‘reflects no doubt the more fragile resource baseof the SME’ (CILT, 2006, p. 46). On the other hand, the gap may also be a case of over-reporting by human resource managers in SMEs (such over-reporting of positively perceivedresponses being a well-known phenomenon in surveys). If we relate these findings to lifelonglearning, it does not appear that the concept has truly taken hold in SMEs. It wouldtherefore be premature to rely on employers to provide the language training necessary forthe economy.But the flagging support from SMEs is matched by Europeans’ comparative indifference totaking up languages. The Special Eurobarometer 243 reports that the ‘level of motivation ofEU citizens to learn languages is moderate’ and that ‘softer motives’, i.e., non-vocationalones, ‘remain very much in evidence’ (European Commission, 2006, p. 5). This means thatif foreign languages are taken up, it will be out of general interest – which implies generalEnglish rather than ESP – and not for professional reasons. Hence, one should not rely onEuropeans to take up ESP on their own initiative. This European state of affairs is alsoreflected at the Austrian level. A representative poll by the Austrian Statistics Office(Statistik Austria, 2004) revealed that only 30% of respondents who had taken up foreignlanguages had done so for professional reasons, while the vast majority of 70% had astrictly private motivation (Statistik Austria 2004, quoted in Archan & Holzer, 2006, p.66). Our own respondents bear this out as well: 40% claimed they had taken languagetraining for private reasons, and only 25% for work-related reasons. On the basis of thesedata, the Eurobarometer concludes that ‘for many Europeans, school appears to be the onlyplace where they ever learn foreign languages’ (European Commission, 2006, p. 8); Archanand Dornmayr (2006) make the same claim for Austria. Therefore, while the lifelonglearning initiative might theoretically shift the onus of providing job-related language skills(ESP) from the public education system onto the language users and their employers, thecurrent surveys suggest that this would be a premature move. Based on their data, Archanand Dornmayr (2006) actually recommend an increased focus of the Austrian educationsystem on ESP, rather than relying on the initiative of corporations or individuals.As some work obviously needs to be done in respect of lifelong learning at the corporateand individual level alike, it may be worthwhile identifying which target groups needparticular persuasion to take up language learning. Both the Austrian Statistics Office(Statistik Austria, 2004) and our own data reveal that females consistently take morelanguage classes than men (Figure 1): all three surveys report a ratio of 3:2 in favour offemales. Hence, it seems that lifelong learning of foreign languages will need additionalpromotion among male employees. PAGE 7
  11. 11. CHAPTER 1 100% 61% 58% 59% 50% 39% 42% 41% 0% Statistik Austria (2004) Own survey (2003) Own survey (2008) (quoted in Archan & Holzer, 2006, p. 64) Male FemaleFigure 1: Participation in language training in Austria (male:female ratio) 50% 25% 37% 22% 10% 8% 0% Special Eurobarometer 243 Fessel-GfK (2001) (European Commission, 2006, p. 8) (quoted in Archan & Holzer, 2006, p. 20) Group lessons Audiovisual material (tape, CD, etc.)Figure 2: Preferred method of language learning (Europe and Austria)In this context, it might be tempting to assume that new technologies and, particularlye-learning, can play a key role in fostering lifelong learning, especially as such technologiescould address the funding problems mentioned by CILT (2006). This view is obviouslytaken by the European Commission Directorate-General for Education and Culture, whichrecommends the use of ‘flexible and time saving Internet courses’ (European CommissionDirectorate-General for Education and Culture, 2008, p. 13). However, the appeal ofaudiovisual materials for self-study (either on- or off-line) still lags far behind full-blownlanguage classes (Figure 2). PAGE 8
  12. 12. CHAPTER 1The Special Eurobarometer 243 reports the popularity of audiovisual materials is half thatof group lessons (10% vs 22%) and the appeal of self-study is even lower in an Austriancontext (8% vs 37%). Among Austrians, the only age group where online resources aremore popular than off-line materials is 20–29 years. However, even here the popularity ofself-study materials never passes the 10% threshold, according to Fessel-GfK (as cited inArchan & Holzer, 2006, p. 20). Therefore, for the moment, self-study (whether on- or off-line) still leads a ‘Cinderella’ existence compared with group lessons. That means if lifelonglearning is to be fostered, governments, businesses and learners will need to dig deeper intotheir pockets to make funding available for group classes as this still seems to be thepreferred way of language learning, despite the high hopes for e-learning.2.3 Written vs oral skillsIn the final part of our paper, we are going to focus on the perceived needs concerningwritten and oral skills. The ELAN survey seems to indicate that the importance placed onoral skills outweighs that of written skills (CILT, 2006). The most frequently cited skills areEnglish for negotiations, meetings and exhibitions, with English for correspondence trailing(CILT, 2006). However, the ELAN survey also indicates that a substantial number ofcompanies had commissioned professional translators, and compiling an English version oftheir homepage (obviously a written skill) was undertaken by 57% of those polled (CILT,2006). Interestingly, the main reason cited for missing the opportunity of winning an exportcontract was the ‘lack of language for negotiation’, but this was immediately followed by‘lack of English in correspondence’ (CILT, 2006, p. 18). This seems slightly at odds with thefinal recommendations which emphasize, inter alia, the need for improved oral skills, but donot mention any particular written skill.At first glance, the Austrian situation seems to support the ELAN findings. The Archan andDornmayr (2006) report indicates that 80% of the more than 2,000 companies polled statedthat at least some of the staff use English on a regular basis. The breakdown of the skillsmost frequently used is depicted in Figure 3. Speaking 70% Reading 60% Writing 53% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80%Figure 3: Key language skills of staff in Austrian enterprises (Archan & Dornmayr, 2006) PAGE 9
  13. 13. CHAPTER 1 Speaking 72% Writing 39% English for 33% Specific Purposes Reading 22% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80%Figure 4: Areas for improvement in language education and training (Archan & Dornmayr, 2006)Taking a closer look at the three mentioned skills, it is interesting to note that speakinginvolves obvious areas like direct personal interaction, telephoning, meetings andpresentations, whereas reading not only includes reading handbooks and technicalinformation, but also correspondence. The obvious importance of reading (and hencereading correspondence), together with a 53% rate of companies indicating the need forwritten correspondence (letters or e-mails) seems to contradict the perceived needs ofcompanies, which ranked areas for improvement in language education and training as isshown in Figure 4.One could argue, of course, that reading and writing skills are already at an adequate level,whereas the spoken skills are not. Other data from research with a similar approach do,however, support the notion that although on the face of it oral skills seem to dominate,written English does still play a major role in business. When asked about areas forimprovement, Austrian companies polled in a survey by Weber (2005) indicated that theywanted their staff to improve skills as is shown in Figure 5. PAGE 10
  14. 14. CHAPTER 1 Presentations 70% Telephoning 70% Negotiations 70% Correspondence 60% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80%Figure 5: Areas for improvement suggested by large Austrian enterprises (Weber, 2005)These findings, together with the above-mentioned details of Archan and Dornmayr (2006),do, in our opinion, make the case for keeping oral as well as written skills in the focus oflanguage education and training. Therefore, the final recommendations in the Archan andDornmayr (2006) study, stressing the need for a revision of language curricula at schoolsand institutions of higher education with an emphasis on oral communication at the expenseof written skills and grammar, need to be taken with caution.To make our case, we would like to bring in a third level of analysis: the results of twosurveys that we carried out in 2003 and 2008. A needs analysis of our in-service studentsstudying Business or Engineering at the Fachhochschule Wiener Neustadt was primarilycarried out with the aim to revise the curricula of our full-time and part-time programmesboth at the bachelor and master level. One of the aspects that we were primarily interestedin was the issue of oral versus written communication as experienced by these maturestudents in their workplaces. Of the 246 students polled in 2008, 165 (67%) said they usedEnglish at work, with more Engineering students (76%) making that claim than Businessstudents (59%). In 2003, the figures were similar: of the 216 students polled, 153 (70%)claimed to use English at work, with 70% of the Business students and 72% of theEngineering students saying they did so. Interestingly, the only obvious change between2003 and 2008 was the reduction in the number of Business students using English and anincrease in the Engineering students.In response to the question ‘In which form do you use English at work?’, 72% of studentsclaimed to use English in both forms, orally and in writing. This was down from 88% in2003. At the same time, the use of mainly spoken English increased from 7.2% to 20%,while the use of mainly written English increased over the five-year period from just 4.6%to 8.1% (Figure 6). PAGE 11
  15. 15. CHAPTER 1 100% 75% 71.9% 88.2% 50% 25% 20.0% 7.2% 8.1% 4.6% 0% Own survey (2003) Own survey (2008) (N = 153) (N = 165)Figure 6: ‘In which form do you use English at work?’Although this does indicate that spoken English is on the increase (a tendency in line withboth the European and the general Austrian results: Archan & Dornmayr, 2006; CILT,2006; Weber, 2005), it still shows that written English cannot be relegated to the sidelines.In terms of frequency of use, a closer look at those actually using English in the workplaceshows that two-thirds are in the high (daily and several times a week) and medium (once aweek to several times a month) frequency ranges. In addition, it also indicates they usespoken and written English equally as often (Figures 7 and 8). 100% 39.2% 37.1% 75% 50% 19.6% 23.3% 25% 36.6% 35.8% 4.6% 3.8% 0% Own survey (2003) Own survey (2008) (N = 153) (N = 165)Figure 7: ‘How often do you use written English?’ PAGE 12
  16. 16. CHAPTER 1 100% 39.0% 36.9 75% 50% 23.9% 27.5% 25% 36.5% 33.8% 0% 0.6% 1.9% Own survey (2003) Own survey (2008) (N = 153) (N = 165)Figure 8: ‘How often do you use spoken English?’The situations in which spoken or written English is used by our respondents is again in linewith the Austrian situation in general (Archan & Dornmayr, 2006; Weber, 2005). The mostfrequently quoted types of spoken situations are telephoning, social contacts and meetings.The written mode (both as far as reading and drafting are concerned) is topped by lettersand e-mails, followed by technical documentation and reports.As an institution of tertiary education, the Fachhochschule, with its vocational focus, hasthe obligation to provide ESP instruction relevant to the workplace. Based on therecommendations of the ELAN survey and the Austrian surveys quoted above, this wouldmean prioritizing oral aspects at the expense of written skills and grammar. Our surveys, asdo Archan and Dornmayr (2006) and Weber (2005) when scrutinized more closely, indicatethat an equal focus on written skills is still called for. In addition, we hold that as academicinstitutions, Fachhochschulen have an obligation to position themselves in a way that catersfor both vocational and academic requirements.As a last and final aspect, Archan and Dornmayr (2006) report that 50% of contactsinvolve customers (as opposed to internal communication). Our students claimed that morethan 75% of contacts were with customers and in such external contacts, some formalwriting skills and politeness strategies are clearly in order. We therefore conclude that itwould be premature to ignore the written medium of English in the workplace. PAGE 13
  17. 17. CHAPTER 13 ConclusionEmpirical surveys at the European and Austrian level confirm language competence as asuccess factor for both individuals and corporations. The economic impact of the EuropeanCommission’s aim of fostering lifelong learning of ESP has therefore been empiricallysubstantiated. These economic benefits seem to have been taken on board by largecorporations, both at the European and the Austrian level. However, lifelong learning offoreign languages does not seem to be firmly established either in SMEs or among individuallearners. Consequently, relying on corporations or individuals to cater to their own needswith regard to ESP may at this point be ill advised, and the education system will likelyremain the key provider of language training, particularly of job-related language skills, i.e.,ESP. In the tertiary system, this will probably also involve written skills to a substantialdegree, despite managers’ expectations to the contrary. The relevance of writing tends to beunderestimated by business people, and secondly, especially in the tertiary system, ESPcannot only involve business English, but will also have to include aspects of academicEnglish, and hence the written medium.ReferencesArchan, S., & Dornmayr, H. (2006). Fremdsprachenbedarf und -kompetenzen: Unternehmensbefragung zu Ausbildungsqualität und Weiterbildungsbedarf. (ibw- Schriftenreihe Nr. 131). Vienna: Institut für Bildungsforschung der Wirtschaft. Retrieved September 21, 2010, from turer_id=0&itemid=127&orderby=product_cdate&start=35Archan, S., & Holzer, C. (2006). Sprachenmonitor: Zahlen, Daten und Fakten zur Fremdsprachensituation in Österreich. (ibw-Bildung & Wirtschaft Nr. 38). Vienna: Institut für Bildungsforschung der Wirtschaft. Retrieved September 10, 2010, from (2005). Talking sense: A research study of language skills management in major companies. London: CILT. Retrieved September 10, 2010, from _case.aspxCILT (2006). ELAN: Effects on the European economy of shortages of foreign languages skills in enterprise. London: CILT. Retrieved September 10, 2010, from _case.aspxEuropean Commission (2001). Communication from the Commission. Making a European area of lifelong learning a reality. (COM(2001) 678 final). Brussels: European Commission. Retrieved September 10, 2010, from _en.htm PAGE 14
  18. 18. CHAPTER 1European Commission (2006). Europeans and their languages. (Special Eurobarometer 243). Brussels: European Commission. Retrieved September 10, 2010, from Commission Directorate-General for Education and Culture (2008). Languages mean business. Companies work better with languages. Recommendations from the Business Forum for Multilingualism established by the European Commission. Brussels: European Communities. Retrieved September 10, 2010, from, F. (2001). English as economic value: Facts and fallacies. World Englishes, 20(1), 65–78.Platzer, H., & Verdonk, D. (2003). English in the workplace: A survey among Austrian professional people. Paper presented at the Annual BESIG Conference, Rotterdam.Platzer, H., & Verdonk, D. (2008a). English in the workplace: A survey among Austrian professional people. Paper presented at the Annual IATEFL Conference, Exeter.Platzer, H., & Verdonk, D. (2008b). Tell us what you want, what you really, really want. A survey of English in the workplace. Paper presented at the Annual BESIG Conference, Bonn-Rhein-Sieg.Statistik Austria (2004). Lebenslanges Lernen. Egebnisse des Mikrozensus Juni 2003. Vienna: Statistik Austria.Weber, M. (2005). Fremdsprachen in österreichischen Großunternehmen: Eine Bedarfanalyse. Unpublished master’s thesis, University of Economics and Business Administration, Vienna, Austria. PAGE 15
  19. 19. CHAPTERBakers don’t say ‘bread’: Designing appropriate ESP 2materials for operating room technicians in Saudi ArabiaKieron Devlin, The Language Centre, University of the Arts, LondonE-mail:, English for Special Purposes (ESP) was founded in the area of science and technologyand had a growth period in the 1970s, particularly in the Middle East (Gatehouse, 2001).One offshoot of that was English for Medical Purposes, in which Graeco-Latin terminologyunderpinned the courses written for the health sciences. Since then, ESP has ‘lost some of itsearly lustre’ (Harding, 2007, p. 3) and has split into business English and English forAcademic Purposes (EAP), yet it remains relevant to today’s global language needs. WritingESP materials, however, is a process that requires intensive research on the part of thecurriculum designer. In 1997, an in-house study book was produced for Saudi Arabianstudents who were simultaneously learning English and doing work training in the operatingrooms at Riyadh Military Hospital. This course trained Saudis to acquire operating roomskills in conjunction with John Moore’s University, Liverpool. The aim was to set standardsin line with City & Guilds qualifications. The materials required not only medicalknowledge, but a survey of interpersonal language used among health staff. This paper seeksto reflect on the issues involved in creating this ESP book, exploring the teaching and learningpossibilities inherent in the task, and on the limitations of working within such a highlyspecialized workplace. It speculates on the changes in approach since 1997 regarding ESPmaterials design and states which elements of the resulting materials were effectively tailoredto their audience and which might now require a freshly considered approach.Keywords: English for Specific Purposes (ESP), English for Science and Technology (EST),operating room technician, operating department practitioner, English for OperatingDepartment Practitioners (EODP) syllabus design, operating room. PAGE 17
  20. 20. CHAPTER A needs analysis for information technology service 3 companies in Brazil Rosinda de Castro Guerra Ramos: Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo, Brazil E-mail: of the new challenges that ESP practitioners in Brazil have to deal with is the shortageof proficient English speaking professionals to supply the needs of the informationtechnology (IT) outsourcing market, which has been experiencing a phenomenal growth inthe country. English courses specifically designed to meet the needs of IT groups have rarely,if ever, been reported. How, then, can we make these individuals perform adequately inEnglish at work? The research project presented here represents an effort to resolve thisproblem. It reports on a needs analysis conducted in two IT companies. First, the context ofthe study is presented and, second, the steps taken during the whole process are described.Third, the different sources and ways of collecting data are presented. Finally, the analysisprocedures and preliminary results are shown and discussed in the hope that ideas may beshared so that these results may lend themselves as input for the design of materials.Keywords: English for the Workplace, needs analysis, ESP in Brazil, English forInformation Technology.1 IntroductionOne of the new challenges ESP practitioners in Brazil have been facing is the increasingdemand attached to effective knowledge of English in the workplace (Cardoso, 2003a,2003b; Gomes, 2003; Ramos, 2005; Vian Jr., 2003; among others). To explain, for some 30years now, Brazilian ESP practitioners have been mostly devoted to the teaching of readingand/or academic skills (Celani, Deyes, Holmes & Scott, 2005; Celani, Holmes, Ramos &Scott, 1988; Holmes, Celani, Ramos & Scott, 1993; Ramos, Lima-Lopes & Gazotti Vallim,2004). However, the substantial economic technological worldwide changes have broughtabout new professional demands.Successful use of oral communication skills in English has become more and more vital toguarantee a job in Brazilian corporate settings, especially in positions requiring advancedEnglish language proficiency. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why business Englishcourses have been attracting increased interest throughout the big cities in the country.More recently, a particularly urgent case has emerged – the shortage of proficient English-speaking professionals to supply the needs of the IT outsourcing market. PAGE 39
  21. 21. CHAPTER Targeting pressure points in the training of learners of 4 English as a second language in the workplace in Africa: The role of communication skills Bernard Mwansa Nchindila: Department of English Studies, University of South Africa (UNISA), Pretoria, RSA E-mail: English as a second language in a multilingual workplace can be quite exciting, butthis is not always the case. Because traditional schools, colleges and universities are not yetwell positioned to respond to the demands of the workplace, individuals and small enterpriseorganisations continue to be the main actors in this business. This paper identifies threemajor reasons why teaching English in the workplace is a difficult exercise, especially inAfrica. (i) Adult learners usually perceive themselves as knowledgeable in English language.(ii) Workplace training is sometimes carried out by experts who are not necessarily teachers.Few have qualifications for teaching adults and so many never apply any methodology at all.Evidence of this is that experts in the field have actually been moving further and furtheraway from the business of teaching. (iii) In much of Africa in general, English is taught not asa second language but as a ‘second-hand language’. The net effect is that collectively thesefactors culminate in pressure points in the life of learners in the workplace, which must betargeted during training in order to minimize the pressure. The paper then shares anapproach aimed at helping trainers in teaching English as a second language in the workplacethat was used in training police officers in report writing skills in Pretoria in 2004. Usingreport writing as a sub-text, the paper proposes the use of communication skills and portfolioassessments as opposed to using traditional methods, such as examinations, as ways oftreating the pressure points of these learners while they are learning.Keywords: report writing, adult English learners, communication training skills, English forwork teaching approach, pressure points in learning English in Africa.1 IntroductionOne day research will come out of Africa to explain the African servitude of acceptingdonations in the form of ‘leftovers’: heavily scented and fumigated worn-out sweatshirtsfrom the UK, the USA and France; hurriedly made jeans from China; and English as a‘second-hand language’ from England. Like the Reading Wars of America, issues pertainingto the social implications of Africa’s servitude are battles and wars to be fought, lost or wonanother day. The body of literature on teaching of English to adults is, however, growingconsiderably (e.g., Harmer, 1997, 2001; Scrivener, 2005; Smith & Swan, 2001). The PAGE 51
  22. 22. CHAPTER Effective English for conducting meetings and 5 writing letters at workplaces in India Meenakshi Raman: BITS, Pilani – K.K. Birla Goa Campus, Goa, India E-mail: and raman.mee@gmail.comAbstractCommunication is the lifeline of any workplace, irrespective of whether it belongs to anyindustrial sector such as engineering, information technology, financial, pharmaceutical,medical, or an education sector or a government sector. Every workplace has its owncommunication networks to keep alive information sharing among its employees, betweenits managers and employees, among its managers, and between its employees and its clients.As the success of an organization depends on the quality and quantity of the informationflowing through its personnel, it is essential to ensure the effective transmission of messagesthrough all communication channels. This criterion necessitates the enhancement of thelinguistic ability of an organization’s employees. With English being the most widely usedlanguage in a large number of workplaces in India and also being the lingua franca of theworld, organizations need to provide adequate training to their employees in using Englisheffectively for their communication purposes. Although there are some organizations inIndia, including public organizations, that use other Indian regional languages forcommunication both oral and written, liberalization and globalization have brought to thefore the importance of English in the professional world. There are several forms ofcommunication that are common to many workplaces in India. For instance, oral forms –such as meetings; conversations, both face to face and telephonic; and negotiations – andwritten forms – such as letters, memos, e-mails and circulars – are being used at almost allworkplaces and English is predominantly used in these forms. All these forms expect theircommunicators to use appropriate expressions in English so that their messages are direct,precise and clear. The same requirement arises while using English in contexts such asinteracting with clients and customers, managing conflicts, delivering project presentations,briefing project teams or drafting reports and proposals. Hence, it would be fruitful to knowhow English is being used in Indian workplaces in various contexts.This paper focuses on the English expressions that are used in workplaces in India in twocommonly used contexts, namely, business meetings and business letters, and discusses theseaspects of language through examples from workplace situations. The examples specific to Indiancontexts would enhance our understanding of the clarity and precision with which English needsto be spoken or written to meet the various communication challenges in workplaces.Keywords: workplace, India, English, oral, written, meetings, letters. PAGE 61
  23. 23. CHAPTER Communication practices in workplaces and 6 higher education Christine Winberg: Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa E-mail: practices in the workplace and related higher education sites in the fields ofarchitecture, mechanical engineering and radiography were studied and compared. A widevariety of communication practices was found in workplaces, each with specific purposes,audiences and contexts. A more limited range of communication practices was found inhigher education departments, with less clarity with regard to the intended purpose,audience and context of the communication. The study showed that in their workplaces,architects, engineers and radiographers do not normally write for other architects, engineersor radiographers, but for related professionals. Architects would, for example, preparedrawings and documents for structural engineers; mechanical engineers would preparelayout diagrams and instructions for electrical engineers; and radiotherapists would prepareand update patient records for oncologists. The clear sense of purpose, audience and contextthat is apparent in workplace writing is related to the inter-professional, interdisciplinaryfocus of professional writing. In contrast, the communication practices in career-focused(undergraduate) higher education tend to be intra-professional and intra-disciplinary; thiscauses students to experience confusion in terms of the purpose, audience and context oftheir writing.Keywords: technical communication, technical writing, technical and professional genres,professional communication, non-academic writing, work-based writing, career-focusedhigher education.1 IntroductionThis paper reports on a research study which mapped communication practices inworkplaces and related higher education disciplines, in order to identify opportunities toenhance communication practices in applied science, engineering and technology (ASET)disciplines. The research objective was to critically examine the educationally effective,inclusive and work-focused communication practices in the context of ASET disciplines inhigher education, for the mutual benefit of students and workplaces. PAGE 75
  24. 24. CHAPTER New Zealand’s Language in the Workplace project: 7 Workplace communication for skilled migrants Meredith Marra, Janet Holmes and Nicky Riddiford: Victoria University of Wellington E-mail: of perceived English language difficulties, professional migrants are oftenoverlooked in their quest for employment which appropriately matches their qualificationsand expertise. This chapter describes Victoria University of Wellington’s WorkplaceCommunication for Skilled Migrants course, a government-funded initiative for unemployedand underemployed skilled migrants in New Zealand. The specific goal of the course is thedevelopment of communication skills for the New Zealand workplace, with a particularemphasis on the sociopragmatic demands of workplace interaction. With a philosophy ofempowerment, course members are encouraged to undertake their own analyses of what isgoing on in workplace talk, in order to facilitate the development of sociopragmatic skillsthat have application beyond narrow contexts and tasks. We begin by reporting on thecourse design. The course materials draw on an extensive corpus of naturally occurringworkplace interactions between effective native speaker communicators, which has beencollected and analysed by the Wellington Language in the Workplace Project over the pastdecade. Next, we describe a current research project which is evaluating the success of thecourse by tracking the participants as they enter the New Zealand workplace on supportedworkplace internships. Finally, we note the importance of the two-way commitmentbetween hosts and newcomers which is contributing to migrants’ improved participation inthe workforce.Keywords: English for work, skilled migrants, sociopragmatic competence, government policy.1 IntroductionFor many skilled migrants who come to New Zealand, finding employment that matchestheir qualifications and experience often proves difficult, with a perceived lack of Englishlanguage proficiency creating a seemingly insurmountable hurdle. The much-needed expertisethat they bring and their potential to make a considerable contribution to society isacknowledged and actively sought by the government. But speaking the majority language isviewed as a necessity for facilitating successful employment and settlement, and hence a keyfeature of the entry requirements is a reasonably high level of English proficiency (IELTS 6.5,or equivalent). Despite reaching this benchmark, professional migrants are frequently PAGE 91
  25. 25. CHAPTER English for the Workplace practices in Nigeria’s academic 8 and professional industries: 1990–2008 Adejoke Jibowo: Olabisi Onabanjo University Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, Nigeria E-mail: and avjibowo@yahoo.comAbstractEnglish has become a global language, spreading fast into various walks of life: educationand teaching, engineering, banking, media, military and religion. Academic and professionaltraining in Nigeria, for instance, now includes courses in English language andcommunication skills. The main objective of this development has been to meet the growingdemands of recruitment and retention of staff in workplaces. This study takes a look at theEnglish for Workplace (E4WP) practices in Nigeria’s academic and professional industriesbetween the years 1990 and 2008. One hundred and eleven (111) academics andprofessionals responded to a questionnaire designed to find out the practice, extent andusefulness of English in their different industries. The researchers’ observations andexperiences of the teaching of English in an academic institution were also used in theresearch. The data gathered were analysed. The results revealed a high level of penetrationand use of English language skills in education, engineering, banking and businesses, media,military and religion-based institutions in Nigeria.Keywords: English for Work, academic and professional practices, industries.1 IntroductionThe emergence and spread of English as language of international relationships,dissemination of knowledge, ideas and culture is well attested. It is by far the mostimportant and acceptable language of scientific and scholarly conferences, workshops anddebates (Ammon, as cited in Kirkpatrick, 2007). In many workplaces, both academic andprofessional, engaged in by Nigerians, a certain level of attainment in and understanding ofEnglish language is required. It is almost impossible to be profitably engaged in any work inNigeria without at least some competence in the language. Many workplaces, especially inthe last two decades (1990–2008) have placed greater emphasis on effective communicationas a requirement in staff recruitment and retention. The 1990 Communication Skills Project(COMSKIP) of the Overseas Development Agency (ODA), the British Council and theNational Universities Commission (NUC) was a major attempt to address the problem oflack of adequate communication skills among Nigerian graduates signalled by workplacesthrough feedback reports. Employers in Nigeria, like in other countries, require that their PAGE 105
  26. 26. CHAPTER Teaching English for the Workplace in Nigeria using 9 literature and the media Sunday I. Duruoha: Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt, Nigeria E-mail: sid2rule@yahoo.comAbstractIn this paper, I discuss the modalities for teaching English for the Workplace (E4WP) in aNigerian context and establish the fact that in a good E4WP class in Nigeria, standard BritishEnglish should be used by both teachers and students – but not to the exclusion of othervariants, like Nigerian English. Several activities are described to practise the skills of listening,speaking, reading and writing, using English literature texts, local Nigerian poetry, plays andnewspaper articles. The aim of this paper is to improve the competence/ability of agriculturalextension workers to communicate concepts and ideas to farmers in rural communities.Keywords: agriculture, literature, methodology, skills, workplace communication.1 IntroductionThe global status of English may have been firmly confirmed by the appearance of an articletitled ‘English, English everywhere’, published in the Newsweek International of November15, 1982. Before then, the dominance of English as a global language was a putative idea,even with the global rise of the USA in world politics. Since then, the ‘eruption’ ofinformation technology (IT) and the concept of globalization has made English not only thewinning language, but the language of science, technology and cultural interaction. In the21st century, this is now a well-known fact. But what may not be well known is that as theUSA had been a beacon in the use and spread of English worldwide, when it comes toAfrica, Nigeria, the most populous black nation, was the pillar of the spread of the Englishlanguage, as Roger Bowers (1995, p. 82) of the British Council alludes: It can be observed that English is a major asset for a country like Nigeria; but it is an asset under threat. Nigeria’s influence in international trade and diplomacy, and its capacity to export its rich cultural traditions, are enhanced by the relative ease of access to English and the widespread command of English among what might be termed the travelling classes. The consistent demand for English among Nigeria’s Francophone neighbours is adequate proof of the instrumental value of English in this sense.In this extract the endocentric and exocentric forces are evidently laid bare. While Nigeria isor could be instrumental in the spread of English especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, thelanguage remains under ‘threat’ within the Nigerian system as it were. PAGE 113
  27. 27. CHAPTER Teaching business English in Yemen: What and how? 10 Abdulhameed Ashuja’a: Sana’a University, Yemen E-mail: ashujaa2@gmail.comAbstractBusiness English has become one of the ESP branches heavily demanded in the labourmarkets of many countries, particularly in developing and less-developed ones. Based on acomprehensive needs analysis carried out in Yemen in 2004, this paper discusses two issues:what components of English for business should be provided to students of Commerce andBusiness Administration (university level), and how to teach these components. Priority isgiven to listening and speaking skills, whereas reading and writing skills can come later inthe course. To deliver a business English course, task-based learning (TBL) – as a veryhelpful and practical method – is suggested. A model writing task is explained using the TBLmodel. Finally, the paper concludes by listing a number of requirements that are ofparamount importance to make the teaching of business English successful.Keywords: business English; present, target and learning needs; task-based learning; secondlanguage acquisition; work-related activities.1 IntroductionBusiness English has acquired greater significance due to the globalization of economy inwhich every country tries to look for markets across its borders, and because of the emergenceof multinational companies all over the world looking for new ventures. This implies thatthere is a need for a common communicative genre language that is going to be used amongbusinesspeople and partners from different countries that have diverse mother tongues.We, in Yemen as a developing country, are facing many challenges. One of these challengesis how to cope with the requirements of the open market and free economy, from the pointof view of language communication. The advent of multinational companies of differentorigins to the Yemeni market, makes communication with such companies more difficultand troublesome. The language barrier does exist, although English has recently assumed abetter status and a greater importance in the Yemeni society than ever.As researchers and, basically, teachers of English, we should contribute, therefore, to thedisplacement of this barrier, or at least to reducing its effects. Our contribution can be bybringing the job market into the classroom where business English (BE) is taught, and to takethe classroom to the workplace. The aim should be to teach BE in a more pragmatic andlively way. In view of this, this paper will touch upon two key issues: what to teach and how? PAGE 131
  28. 28. CHAPTER Desert island development: Creating ESP courses for 11 Omani Air Force technicians Neil McBeath: Sultan Qaboos University, Oman E-mail: neilmcbeath@yahoo.comAbstractThe following paper is an account of the creation of a series of courses in English foraircraft engineering technicians working for the Royal Air Force of Oman (RAFO) at theairbase of RAFO Masirah, Oman.It outlines the importance of conducting a needs analysis and indicates how the use ofauthentic materials can facilitate learning by incorporating obviously relevant content withthe target structures and lexis.The paper is unusual in one respect, as it records the approach of an English for SpecificPurposes (ESP) practitioner who was both the technical english language specialist andsimultaneously a serving uniformed RAFO officer. This dual role provided invaluable accessto some of the principal stakeholders and established the instructor within theorganizational hierarchy of the RAFO. This paper suggests, however, that the approachoutlined here could be recreated by any ESP practitioner who is prepared to act on Micic’s(2006, p. 5) advice and ‘not become a teacher of the subject matter, but rather an interestedstudent of the subject matter.’Keywords: authentic communication domain, listening, professional reading, schema,stakeholder training, writing.1 IntroductionMasirah Island is literally a desert island. It is situated off the eastern coast of the Sultanateof Oman. The mainland of Oman lies to the north and west. To the east, there is nothingbut the Indian Ocean until one reaches the western coast of India. Head south, and the nextlandfall is Antarctica. The fullest account of the island is to be found in Richardson (2001).Masirah is inhabited by, at most, 5,000 Omanis, most of whom depend on the sea for theirlivelihood. There is only one village of any size, and that is located at the northern end ofthe island, next to the RAFO Masirah airbase. Both the village and the camp are remote,even by Omani standards. They are approximately 45 minutes’ flying time from Muscat(military aircraft only) and some six hours across the desert by ferry and road. PAGE 141
  29. 29. CHAPTER A pragmatic approach to workplace English in Botswana 12 Modupe M. Alimi: Department of English, University of Botswana E-mail: alimimm@mopipi.ub.bwAbstractIn many countries in Africa, there has been a general disenchantment about the languageproficiency of workers in different professions. Sometimes employers are swift to blameproducers of the workforce for the ‘decline’ in employees’ ability to express themselves. InBotswana, there have been waves of criticism about the English language deficiency ofgraduates of the University of Botswana. Similarly, a number of employers have requestedthat short courses focusing on specific aspects of language use at the workplace beintroduced for their employees. These criticisms and demands are indications that, globally,workplace English language requirements are being appraised. This chapter aims to examinethe workplace language needs in Botswana by providing answers to the following questions.What are the core linguistic characteristics of the different work environments in Botswana?How do these characteristics impact on the workplace language needs in the country? Whatmeasures can be adopted to enhance workplace language use and what challenges do thesecharacteristics pose to English language curriculum design in tertiary institutions inBotswana? The chapter recommends a more pragmatic approach that is cognizant of thelanguage ecology of the country on the one hand and the powerful forces of globalizationon the other.Keywords: Botswana, linguistic diversity, general and restricted repertoire, mutualadaptation, needs analysis, curriculum, globalization.1 IntroductionMany African countries over the past two to three decades, have witnessed a growing concernfor the apparent fallen standard of English (spoken and written) of high school leavers anduniversity graduates. The concern is heightened by the fact that these groups of people areeventually absorbed into the workplace. Statements such as ‘The standard of English hasfallen’ and ‘Graduates these days no longer speak/write good English’ are commonplace.Botswana has not been insulated from these outcries. For example, in 2005, the SundayStandard editorial of April 24 lamented the lack of competence of English graduates from theUniversity of Botswana by alluding to their appalling performance in the workplace: PAGE 153
  30. 30. CHAPTER 12 A few years ago the University of Botswana was said to be not only the best in Africa but [sic] the whole world. No longer so. Bachelor’s degrees in English students [sic] cannot construct a single grammatically correct sentence let alone produce a comprehensive memorandum.In many high schools, teachers also lament the poor performance of students in English.According to the summary of results released by the Botswana Examinations Council in2007, students’ performance in English language seems to have been declining over a periodof six years (Table 1).In 2002, 23.4% of the 17,137 candidates who took the Botswana General Certificate ofSecondary Education (BGCSE) examination in English obtained grade C and above. By2003, this had risen to 25.9%. In 2004, 28.1% of the 17,440 students who took the Englishexamination obtained grade C or above, implying that they were potentially qualified to beadmitted into the University of Botswana and subsequently join the workforce oncompletion of their degree programmes. In 2005 and 2006, there was a slight decline ofabout 1% in the numbers of those who obtained grade C and above. In 2007, however, thenumber of those who did not potentially qualify to be admitted into the University ofBotswana had risen to 16,790 (76.3%). These figures and the series of remarks about theTable 1: Summary of students’ results in English in BGCSE between 2002 and 2007 Year Total no of Grade C and Grade D and candidates above below 2002 17,137 4,006 (23.4%) 13,131 (76.6%) 2003 17,242 4,465 (25.9%) 12,777 (74.1%) 2004 17,440 4,899 (28.1%) 12,541 (71.9%) 2005 17,812 4,838 (27.2%) 12,974 (72.8%) 2006 18,029 4,927 (27.3%) 13,102 (72.7%) 2007 22,016 5,226 (23.7%) 16,790 (76.3%)Botswana Examinations Council and University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (2007)fallen standard and poor English language skills of graduates indicate that society is overtlyconcerned about the proficiency and competence of high school and university graduates inBotswana, and their workplace performance.This chapter discusses workplace English language needs in Botswana by providing answersto the following questions. What are the core linguistic characteristics of the different workenvironments in Botswana? How do these characteristics impact on the workplace languageneeds in the country? What challenges do these characteristics pose to English languagecurriculum design in tertiary institutions and what measures can be adopted to enhanceworkplace language use? PAGE 154
  31. 31. CHAPTER 122 Workplace in Botswana: The linguistic landscapeBotswana is a multilingual and multicultural society. It was a British protectorate until itgained independence in 1966. In addition to retaining English as its official language atindependence, the country adopted Setswana as its national language. Thus, unlike manycountries in West Africa, where English completely dominates the indigenous languages,English competes with Setswana in a number of domains in Botswana. In terms offunctions, English is the medium of communication in formal and technical arenas such asin government, business, international relations, higher education, science and technologyand the media. Batibo (2008, p. 16) asserts that this privileged position accords it higherprestige and status. Setswana, on the other hand, is the medium of instruction fromStandard 1 to 3, and the medium of expression in cultural arenas such as kgotla (ward)meetings, customary courts, political meetings and indigenous programmes in the media.While Setswana is spoken by about 78% of the population, either as mother tongue orsecond language, English is spoken as mother tongue by only 0.002% (Batibo, 2008, p. 17).Although there are native speakers of about 20 other languages, Setswana enjoys higherprestige as the national language with clearly delineated functions. In terms of attitude tothe language, English seems to benefit from a positive and favourable disposition, which isconnected with the prestige or high status accorded it and its users since it is the languagewith the greatest global currency.One of the implications of the above scenario is that the workplace in Botswana ismultilingual/multicultural and therefore dynamic. According to Batibo (2008, p. 18), thedialectics of language choice and use is conditioned by external factors such asglobalization, the requirement of technical jargons and interaction with foreigninterlocutors, and internal forces including national identity and cultural consciousness,level of education and social class.Based on the above, the linguistic landscape of the Botswana workplace seems to divide intotwo overlapping types: (i) work environment, where English is predominantly the tool oforal and written communication (EEWP), and (ii) places where both English and thedominant local language, Setswana, are used for oral communication, with Englishdominating the written mode (ESWP). In both groups, it may be assumed that someworkers, particularly the non-managerial cadre, can get by in their vocations without beingfluent in spoken English. A typical example of the EEWP in Botswana is the miningindustry. Botswana is the world’s largest producer of diamonds. Recently, the country hasmade moves to ‘reduce its economic dependence on diamonds to boost local business andemployment by encouraging more value to be added to diamonds locally’ (BBC Newswebsite). Subsequently, the Diamond Trading Company of Botswana, a joint venture withDe Beers, was launched, which is a testimony to the increased globalization of the country’seconomy. As indicated by the De Beers’ chairman, the emergence of the Diamond TradingCompany is expected to result in ‘one of the largest transfers of skills and commercialactivity to Africa’ (BBC News website). PAGE 155
  32. 32. CHAPTER 12In addition to the mining industry, tourism has become another major source of revenue inthe country. It is estimated that ‘over the next ten years, Botswana’s travel is expected toachieve annualized real growth of 5 per cent, exceeding the world average at 4.3 per centand the Sub-Saharan Africa at 4.5 per cent’ (Botswana Tourism Board website). A recentreport by the World Travel and Tourism Council (2007, p. 3) indicates ‘that travel andtourism already accounts for over 10% of total employment and just under 16% of non-mining GDP’, a further confirmation of heightened globalization of the economy of thecountry. The report further highlights the importance of preparing Botswana for careers intourism, noting that ‘the success of travel and tourism like most service-based activities,depends heavily on its labour force’ who will be required to provide ‘high standards ofcustomer service’ (p. 61). Obviously, high standards of customer relations alluded to in thereport indirectly underscores the importance of English in the EEWP in Botswana.Apart from these two major industries in the country, there are ancillary industries such asbanking, hospitality (hotels and travel operators) and IT, where the requirement of technicaljargon and interaction with foreign interlocutors accord English prominence over Setswana.As the leading stable democracy in Africa, Botswana has many diplomatic missions andembassies whose workforce comprises diplomats and citizens of Botswana. Furthermore, thegovernment uses English as the medium of communication. For example, in parliament,English was the only language of discourse until 1997 when a cabinet memorandum wasissued to authorize the use of Setswana for parliamentary discussions (Kgolo, 2008, p. 62).A typical example of a work environment that leans more towards the ESWP in Botswana isthe commercial arm of the aviation industry responsible for the management of AirBotswana. In this arena, national identity and cultural consciousness are the powerfulprevailing forces. This is the reason that announcements relating to flight schedules,boarding and many other types of oral messages are relayed in Setswana and English.Significantly however, the official news magazine of the industry, Peolwane, previouslyreferred to as Marung, is published in English. A slightly different scenario exists in thecourts where the services of court interpreters are required for parties who might not beproficient in English. As indicated by Nhlekisana (2008, p. 55), court interpretation inBotswana is hampered by the lack of relevant training for interpreters. According to her,many interpreters have a first degree in English or African languages, but are unable to dealwith interpreting culture-specific terms into English. This is an indication that suchinterpreters could benefit from a workplace English programme for court interpreters.3 How do these characteristics impact on the workplacelanguage needs in the country?The discussion above indicates that that the workplace in Botswana is disparate, with eachwork environment requiring some measure of specialism, apart from the common corefeatures, in their English language needs. In the EEWP, English is crucial for communicationwith management, staff and superiors. It is the language of power, for giving instructionsand receiving feedback. It is also the gatekeeper language, for conducting the affairs of the PAGE 156
  33. 33. CHAPTER 12workplace and the means by which workers’ competencies are assessed. English for suchwork environments is the language of documentation for presenting all types of reports, thelanguage of marketing to promote the sale of goods and services, and the ‘metalanguage’ fordescribing the peculiarity/specialism of those workplaces. English is also to a large extent themeans of communication among colleagues and therefore the language for building andmaintaining relationships (social or business), especially between different nationalities.It is in recognition of the important role of English in the EEWP in Botswana that theAttorney General’s Chambers in 2006 asked the Department of English, University ofBotswana, to offer a grammar refresher course for its legislative drafters. In the same vein,the department has been asked by the parliament to offer a workshop on report and speechwriting for some of its staff. Specifically, parliament staff are to be trained in the following:committee reports (fact finding, meeting public hearing and benchmarking reports), officersexchange programme/benchmarking/attachment reports, conference/seminar/workshopreports, and ‘rapporteuring’ and speech writing. Another significant development in thisrespect is a plan which is still at its conception stage to offer a degree programme inprofessional and creative writing in the Faculty of Humanities, University of Botswana.4 What measures can be adopted to enhance English in theworkplace in Botswana?One of the pragmatic measures that can be adopted to enhance English in the two types ofworkplace, EEWP and ESWP, in Botswana is the principle of mutual adaptation (Thomas &Gregory (1993/94, p. 367), cited in Dicker (1998, p. 290)). This is a situation in which bothemployers and employees benefit and therefore ‘accept and understand differences anddiversity, knowing full well that those realities may call for adaptation on the part of allcomponents of the whole’ (Gregory, 1993/94, p. 367). In order to make adaptation work inBotswana, the employers that hire highly skilled foreign nationals who do not speak Englishmay wish to consider introducing English for Specific Purposes (ESP) classes to suchemployees. This will aid the process of systematically creating a conducive workenvironment for both parties. Ultimately, such workers will become useful assets to theorganization, not only in terms of their output but also in terms of their careeradvancement. In Dicker’s (1998, p. 292) view, such ‘employer gets workers who caninteract more easily with dominant-group employees and managers and who are more easilytrainable.’ Even in the ESWP in Botswana, employees not proficient in English but who arewilling to develop themselves could also be encouraged to take advantage of ESP classes, astep that could broaden their horizon and expose them to better career opportunities.In terms of the content of such ESP instructions, the Department of English, University ofBotswana will be very useful in developing relevant and appropriate curricula, an issue thatwill be discussed in detail in the last section of this chapter. However, the point needs to beemphasized here that the English language curriculum in the University of Botswana andother tertiary institutions in the country needs to pragmatically respond to workplacerequirements. In order to achieve this, the English curriculum needs to become a synergy ofthe traditional menu of English linguistics and practical global workplace communication PAGE 157
  34. 34. CHAPTER 12needs. In recognition of the importance of the changing demands of the global workplace,the Department of English, University of Botswana, as noted earlier, is proposing aprogramme in professional and creative writing. However, to successfully achieve itsobjectives in developing this programme, conducting a detailed needs analysis is imperative.This also has implications for the promotion of strengthened relationships between Englishdepartments in tertiary institutions and the industries to ensure a continuous flow ofinformation between the two groups on changing needs in the workplace. Such informationwill enhance the development and sustenance of dynamic curricula.ESP/English for Academic Purposes (EAP) practitioners in Botswana who provide services inEnglish for the Workplace (E4WP) also need to become accustomed with the language usedin workplaces and its functions. Master (1997, pp. 30–31) recommends that: professional ESP practitioners must become versed in and or develop an enthusiasm for networking, establishing a reputation, knowing compensation norms, using a business approach with companies, perfecting a professional image, being aware of company attitudes towards instruction and involving management.Becoming versed in these areas will enable the ESP practitioner to keep abreast ofdevelopments in the workplace and appropriately ‘adapt teaching theory to specific needs’.5 Challenges to workplace English language curriculum inBotswanaIn this section, the general coverage of a comprehensive curriculum on E4WP in the countrywill first be highlighted before addressing some of the challenges that workplace Englishmight encounter. It can be fairly assumed that, in general, a comprehensive curriculum forworkplace English should focus on the following areas: English grammar, conversation atwork, report writing, working in Botswana, oral presentations, telephoning in English,vocabulary development, pronunciation skills, writing and grammar, and speaking skills(adapted from the University of New South Wales Institute of Languages website). Thesefocus areas should assist workers to sharpen their English grammar skills, develop moreconfidence as speakers in different work situations, and improve their report writing,listening and speaking skills in the Botswana work environment. In addition, the skillsshould enable workers to develop better oral presentation and telephoning skills, expandtheir general vocabulary, and become more articulate in spoken communication not only inthe workplace but in other social contexts. Apart from the general skills highlighted above,each workplace language-specific need will then be incorporated as determined by the needsanalysis of the specific work context. Examples of such specific skills include interpretationskills for court interpreters, technical writing skills for technicians/engineers, business reportwriting skills for accountants, and diplomacy and advocacy skills for diplomats and lawyers. PAGE 158
  35. 35. CHAPTER 12Now we will look at the challenges that E4WP practitioners may have to deal with.According to Gatehouse (2001), successful communication in a profession requires threetypes of abilities: the ability to use the particular jargon characteristic of that specific occupational context, the ability to use a more generalized set of academic skills, such as conducting research and responding to memoranda and the ability to use the language of everyday informal talk such as chatting or responding to informal e-mail messages.The general and everyday abilities outlined by Gatehouse (2001) as applicable to Botswanahave already been discussed. The EAP/ESP practitioner has the onerous responsibility ofensuring that these three abilities are properly integrated in the curriculum (Gatehouse,2001). At whatever level an E4WP programme is being designed (basic, intermediate,advanced or even as a degree programme), the ESP practitioner will obviously be confrontedwith maintaining balance in the course content to reflect these three types of ability. This isprecisely why a strengthened relationship between course providers and employers will be ofimmense benefit in prioritizing needs. As Gatehouse (2001) indicates, in the knittingprocess, course designers/providers must ‘develop a model that best integrates the restrictedrepertoire with the academic and general for the learners.’In recent times, many people have raised concerns about the role of English, particularly itsadverse effect on the growth of indigenous languages in the country. Advocates of this viewrefer to the admission requirements of the University of Botswana, which stipulate aminimum of grade C in English irrespective of the proposed course of study. Thisrequirement not only denies seemingly good students access to university education, but alsodiminishes the importance of Setswana, a poor grade in this examination attracting no suchstringent penalty. The view is also held that English has been encroaching into domains thatshould be exclusive to Setswana, such as the Ntlo ya Dikgosi (House of Chiefs). At theswearing in ceremony of members of Ntlo ya Dikgosi in 2007, the master of ceremonieschose to direct the proceedings in English, causing one of the chiefs to recite ‘So help meGod’ as ‘So God me help’; the press vehemently criticized the master of ceremonies andblamed his language preference on the dominance of English, which is a result of theprestige that has been associated with it (see Mathangwane, 2008; Nthapelelang, 2008).Some others contend that the exclusive use of English as the medium of instruction fromStandard 3 ‘contradicts UNESCO’s recommendation to instruct learners in their mothertongue for as long as possible’ (Nthapelelang, 2008, p. 80). Given these objections to thespread and dominance of English in Botswana, the promotion of English in the workplacewould seem to increase the stifling of Setswana and other indigenous languages in thecountry and consequently erode the cultural heritage of the nation. Thus, employers whochoose to promote English in the workplace in Botswana must be prepared to cope with thelinguistic diversity of the country and respect the rights of individuals whose linguisticpreferences are in line with their cultural and national aspirations (Baugh, 2004, p. 205). PAGE 159