Report on Academic
Specialist Visit to Thailand
June 26 - July 11, 1999
By Kay Westerfield,
University of Oregon
About the Specialist
Kay Westerfield is a specialist in
International Business Communication and an international consultant
in English for Specific Purposes (ESP). Ms. Westerfield coordinates
and teaches in the International Business Communication program
in the Charles H. Lundquist College of Business at the University
of Oregon. She is also the Business Programs Coordinator at the
American English Institute, University of Oregon, where she directs
the Institute's ESP-Business programs, which include Business
English training in the intensive English program, Corporate Language
Training, and the International Pre-MBA Training Program.
Ms. Westerfield holds a Masters of
Education degree from Boston University. She has published a reading
textbook and numerous articles on language teaching. Her work
as an international ESP consultant and teacher trainer has taken
her to Europe, Latin America, Northern Africa, the Middle East,
and South East Asia. Ms. Westerfield was the founding chair of
the English for Specific Purposes Interest Section within the
international organization for Teachers of English to Speakers
of Other Languages (TESOL). She now co-chairs the TESOL Task Force
to develop standards documents for Best Practices in Workplace
International Business Communication Program Coordinator
Charles H. Lundquist College of Business, University of Oregon
Business Programs Coordinator
American English Institute, University of Oregon
5212-University of Oregon
Eugene, Oregon 97403-5212
Areas of Specialization
English for Specific Purposes (ESP),
International Business Communication, Content-Based Language Instruction
(CBI), Second Language Reading.
I gave a series of workshops in a
number of venues in Thailand on topics related to international
business communication and teaching English for business, i.e.
English for International Negotiation; Effective Business Presentations;
and Internet-Based Projects for Business: "Networking". My workshops
in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Mahasarakam, which were attended by
over 300 participants, were hosted by University faculties of
Business and Economics as well as English.
I would like to share the following
observations from my visit.
First, there is heightened need
and corresponding demand for training in Business English and
international business communication in Thailand as well as in
other countries in southeast Asia due to the continuing effects
of the economic crisis.
The Chair of the English for Business
department at a leading Thai university reports that "English
and business communication skills are increasingly in demand.
Due to the economic conditions and the IMF bailout measures, foreign
investors have taken over many businesses in Thailand so the demand
for English in the workplace has become more urgent. The Thais
now have to work more closely with foreigners. They need to be
trained in effective communication in the workplace - making presentations,
attending meetings and handling negotiations. My division as well
as departments in other universities have started to revamp the
curriculum putting more stress on communication in the workplace,
but most teachers still find themselves at a loss, not knowing
how to proceed with this."
At this point in time, English is
undisputedly the lingua franca of international business. Improving
the ability of business people to communicate in English across
cultural boundaries contributes to national as well as global
economic growth; people are better able to access new markets
and develop existing ones more successfully.
A second observation which is related
to this increased need for training in English for business, is
the great interest in how to combine training in Internet skills
with business communication skills. Knowing how to access information
on the WWW is critical both for students doing research for their
business classes, as well as for managers who need to make informed
decisions in the workplace. My workshop in Bangkok which provided
practical suggestions on how to exploit Internet technology for
business English training was "standing room only". Many other
universities requested this workshop, too, but we were unable
to fit it into the schedule this time.
(An aside related to this Internet
workshop: several of the tasks in the workshop highlighted web
sites of a number of US corporations and educational institutions.
These web sites, such as the site for Ben & Jerry's, for example,
were particularly interesting to business communication trainers
from a cross-cultural perspective due to the cultural values reflected
on the sites, e.g. the strong commitment to social responsibility.)
A third impression I had was that
these business English workshops offered outreach and networking
opportunities into the outlying areas of Thailand, e.g. the Northeast,
not only for USIS but also for Thai institutions, such as ThaiTESOL,
the national affiliate of TESOL (the international organization
for Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages).
Teachers from a number of universities
could meet and exchange ideas, building the foundation for continued
professional collaboration. The teachers in the northeastern countryside
were so hungry for professional development opportunities that
many of them drove for 4 hours to attend one day of my workshops
in Mahasarakam. After participating in these workshops, each of
the teachers returned to their university and classroom to share
the information gained with their colleagues and students.
Recommendations for follow-up:
As mentioned above, there is an increased
need for training in English for Business in tertiary education
contexts as well as on-site at corporations themselves; however,
language teachers/trainers are often at a loss for how to provide
this training most effectively.
As a result, representatives from
various educational institutions, namely the Chulalongkorn University
Language Institute, National Institute of Development and Administration
(NIDA) , King Monkut Institute of Technology, Chiangmai and Mahasarakam,
hope that the ThailandTESOL organization can collaborate with
USIS to organize workshops for an extended period --focussing
on the teaching of best practices in Business English training,
from needs analysis to curriculum and training program design
to practical applications in the classroom.
"Internet-Based Projects for Business:
Networking". Westerfield, Kay and Leslie Opp-Beckman.
Guidelines for how to blend Internet technology with business
communication training. Tasks, hotlinks, & other resource suggestions.
TESOL ESP Interest Section.
The official English for Specific Purposes (ESP) site sponsored
by the ESP Interest Section in TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers
of Other Languages). Contains announcements of upcoming conferences,
drafts of Best Practices in workplace language training, links
to valuable ESP resource sites, including the International Directory
of Professionals in ESP, and more.
The University of Oregon Library.
A great source of business resources, many available to people
outside the University community.
The American English Institute, University
of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon. http://babel.uoregon.edu/aei/aei.html
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