Speaking the same language but not speaking the same way v3 4.12.13

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Information about Speaking the same language but not speaking the same way v3 4.12.13
Business

Published on April 27, 2014

Author: wwwwalkthetalkch

Source: slideshare.net

  SR  Communication  &  Culture  Intercultural  Training      www.srcommunication.com    •  contact@sr-­‐communication.com     “Speaking  the  same  language  but  not  speaking  the  same  way”     By  Sunita  Sehmi  &  Rodica  Rosu  Fridez English  as  an  international  business  language  has  become  instrumental  in  social  and   economic  empowerment,  and  consequently  the  demand  for  English  has  escalated  resulting   in  more  jobs  necessitating  a  good  level  of  English  proficiency.     According  to  the  study  “The  Linguistic  Landscape  of  Switzerland”  conducted  by  the  FSO   (Federal  Statistical  Office  2009),  the  English-­‐speaking  expatriate  population  is  growing   significantly.     Indeed  it  is  accepted  that  the  range  of  languages  spoken  in  both  private  and  professional   environments  in  Switzerland  has  grown;  thus  propelling  the  usage  of  English  as  THE   reference  language.   The  EPI  (English  Proficiency  Index,  2011)  stipulates  that  many  Swiss  companies  are  now   operating  internationally  and  “as  the  power  of  English  in  the  workplace  is  rising”  most   companies  want  employees  to  be  skilled  in  English.  The  EPI  also  rank  Switzerland  as  having   a  moderate  proficiency  score,  (54.06),  adding  that  the  presence  of  other  national  languages   does  not  result  in  a  weakening  of  English  proficiency.     Moreover,  many  of  the  multinationals  in  the  French-­‐speaking  part  of  Switzerland  have   adopted  English  as  their  corporate  language  and  within  the  next  couple  of  years  it  is   expected  that  about  one  in  every  two  top  managers  in  Swiss  companies  will  hail  from   overseas  (Allen,  2012).     Although  English  is  used  on  a  daily  basis  in  some  Swiss  companies,  non-­‐natives  sharing  the   same  language  rarely  use  English  with  one  another  outside  work.  This  confirms  that  English   is  still  primarily  a  lingua  franca  in  business  and  not  a  language  used  for  everyday  social   communication.  According  to  the  report,  Swiss  professionals  use  English  to  speak  or  write   for  work  and  as  a  tool  for  wider  communication,  but  for  many  it  is  not  a  language  used  in   the  family  setting  or  with  friends.  Virginie  Borel,  head  of  the  Bilingualism  Forum  in  Biel   specifies,  “English  is  a  very  important  language  but  it  is  a  lingua  franca,  it  does  not  belong   to  our  culture...”  (Borel,  2012)      

  SR  Communication  &  Culture  Intercultural  Training      www.srcommunication.com    •  contact@sr-­‐communication.com These  concerns  gave  birth  to  our  thesis  “How  does  proficiency  in  English  affect  French   native  speakers  at  work?”  The  aim  was  find  out  how  local  French-­‐native  speaking   professionals  cope  with  English  in  every  day  work  and  how  their  proficiency  in  English   affects  them  at  work.   37  professionals  were  interviewed,  from  25  companies  across  the  French-­‐speaking  part  of   Switzerland.  These  included  both  Swiss  and  French  non-­‐native  English  speakers,  as  well  as   native  English  speakers,  ranging  from  top  to  middle  management.   The  "Achilles’  heel”  Small  talk   It  emerged  that  there  was  a  clear  difference  in  proficiency  between  professional  and  social   English  i.e.  small  talk.  This  lack  of  proficiency  caused  stress  and  anxiety  among  non-­‐native   professionals,  especially  in  meetings,  lunch  or  coffee  breaks  and  informal  discussions.   Equally,  non-­‐natives  felt  they  were  linguistically  disadvantaged  during  small  talk  and  at   times  they  reported  feeling  "left  out"  of  important  conversations.  Likewise,  non-­‐natives   specified  that  they  could  not  identify  with  English-­‐natives  shared  collective  cultural  customs.   Thus  endorsing  that  small  talk  is  not  just  a  language  issue  but  a  cultural  one  too.   Emotional  outcomes  on  well  being   The  use  of  English  was  perceived  as  disruptive  with  some  individuals  having  a  negative   impact  on  non-­‐native  well-­‐being.  Well  over  80%  of  respondents  agreed  that  working  in  a   foreign  language  did  not  allow  them  to  fully  exploit  their  professional  skills,  because  they   did  not  dare  to  intervene  as  much  as  they  would  have  in  their  own  language.  Besides  this,  it   was  observed  that  non-­‐natives  felt  the  emotional  repercussions  of  English  as  lingua  franca   dominance  at  work,  leaving  them  with  a  feeling  of  resignation  on  the  part  of  non-­‐natives,  a   kind  of  "submission"  to  the  power  of  the  natives.   The  "Power"  of  the  natives   In  addition  to  the  above  outcomes  it  was  identified  that  communicating  in  English,  in  an   English  speaking  professional  environment  put  native  speakers  in  a  position  of  superiority   over  their  non-­‐native  colleagues.  Taking  the  Swiss  context  into  consideration  it  was   reported  that  native  language  competence  was  sometimes  perceived  to  be  more  valuable   than  technical  knowledge  or  skills.   Non-­‐native  Communication   There  were  various  components,  which  played  a  major  role  e.g.  accents,  idioms,  metaphors,   as  well  as  differences  in  cultural  communication  styles  between  natives  and  non-­‐natives.   Besides  this,  it  appeared  that  non-­‐natives  communicated  better  with  one  another  because   English  was  not  their  mother  tongue.  Therefore  they  had  to  ensure  that,  when  they   communicated  with  each  other,  the  message  they  gave  was  clear.  They  also  tended  to   speak  more  slowly,  and  use  less  complex  vocabulary.  

  SR  Communication  &  Culture  Intercultural  Training      www.srcommunication.com    •  contact@sr-­‐communication.com Conclusion   First  and  foremost  our  report  revealed  that  social  English  was  perceived  as  an  important   feature  of  working  life  and  that  non-­‐natives  felt  particularly  vulnerable  when  required  to   operate  in  English  outside  the  parameters  of  their  job.   Secondly,  English  is  a  must  for  non-­‐natives  and  a  clear  relationship  was  found  between   their  performance,  well-­‐being  and  language  proficiency.  At  all  levels  it  was  perceived  that  a   low  level  of  social  English  proficiency  could  be  professionally  detrimental.   Thirdly,  the  different  cultural  communication  styles  between  natives  and  non-­‐natives  had  a   negative  impact  on  non-­‐natives’  communication  and  confidence.   Recommendations  for  Leaders,  Managers  and  Human  Resources  Professionals   So  what  is  the  future  for  global  companies  in  Switzerland  and  beyond?  How  can  they  better   prepare  themselves  and  their  staff?     We  suggest  these  five  simple  tips  to  start  off  with:   1. English  language  development  courses  needs  to  be  more  focused  on  small  talk  and   soft  skills.   2. The  introduction  of  an  in-­‐house  language  mentoring  system  is  proposed.  With   natives  to  transfer  and  transmit  their  language  knowledge  and  expertise.   3. Systematic  and  tailor  made  Intercultural  training  and  cross-­‐cultural  communication   coaching  is  essential.   4. English-­‐natives  leaders  must  “Walk  The  Talk  “and  build  bridges  between  natives  and   non-­‐natives.   5. HR  and  senior  management  must  provide  support  and  on-­‐going  development   programmes  for  non-­‐native  professionals.  This  could  be  done  through  offering   workshop  /  training  days  specifically  targeted  to;  appropriate  coping  strategies  in   business  English  for  non-­‐natives;  functioning  in  another  language  effectively  and   how  to  understand  the  different  cultures  within  the  organisation.   Sustaining  effective  communication  in  any  organisation  is  by  no  means  an  easy  feat.     It  requires  long-­‐lasting  leadership  skills  that  encourage  individuals  to  be  appreciated  by   their  effort  and  contribution.  And  with  today’s  workforce  composing  of  an  array  of   cultures  and  backgrounds  with  one  common  business  language,  it  is  paramount  that   this  is  addressed.    

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