The Blog for Culture Vultures

Satiate your inner Culture Vulture with regular news and posts about cultural awareness, doing business abroad, working in a multicultural environment, HR diversity and global mobility.

Boost international trade through Languages

Boost international trade through Languages



In order for the UK to boost international trade it must invest much more in languages, according to a new report.

The report by James Foreman-Peck of Cardiff Business School found that not learning languages "promotes complacency and under-investment".

Teresa Tinsley, director of communications at CILT, the National Centre for Languages, said: "We urgently need to raise awareness amongst young people of both the economic and cultural benefits of learning a language."

She went on to say that she wanted to see more employers using management skills and valuing languages as a key business skill.

Ms Tinsley said she wanted to see commitment from all government departments – not just the Department for Children, Schools and Families – to recognise the importance of languages to Britain's future.

CILT recently published its new agenda for languages calling on government agencies and businesses to place more value on languages.

"We need to increase the number of UK graduates competent to work internationally, to enable them to compete with multilingual counterparts from across the world," Ms Tinsley added.

The Cardiff Business School report also found evidence to suggest that Britain's language investment is so low that it imposes a heavier tax on British trade than the average for the rest of the world.
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CILT research into Intercultural Skills

CILT research into Intercultural Skills



CILT is now entering the second phase of its research into an occupational and functional map for languages and intercultural skills and is currently consulting on the cross-sector applications of languages and intercultural skills in the workplace.

You can contribute to their research

If you are a employer involved in the management or recruitment of any roles using language or intercultural skills or if you are an employee using your language or intercultural skills in your job, they would like to hear from you. They’ve prepared a short questionnaire that should take no more than 5-10 minutes to complete.

Your views are essential to this project. Please download and complete our questionnaire and return it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by Friday 27th February. If you have any questions or comments about the project, you can email those to the same address.
Alternatively, their research team are conducting one-to-one telephone interviews with employers, employees and key stakeholders. If you have a lot of knowledge with regard to a particular role, or roles, and its (their) use of language or intercultural skills, it would be very helpful to talk to you. Please contact CILT directly to discuss your particular perspective.
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Managing Asian Cultural Diversity: Cross-cultural Issues in Asia

Research and Markets has announced the addition of the "Managing Asian Cultural Diversity: Cross-cultural Issues in Asia" report to their offering.

Managing Asian cultural diversity can be very complex for Western companies. Each country has its own culture, history, ideology, language and philosophy: a strategy in Taiwan may not work in China, and vice versa. Understanding the local mentality, beliefs, and even linguistic traits can make a world of difference in managing Asian employees effectively. Please attend our April 8, 2008 webcast on Asian Cross-Cultural Issues. This 90-minute session will include a 60-minute presentation, followed by 30 minutes of Q&A.
The following topics are covered in this webcast:

-Diversity of Asian Cultures
-Erroneous Assumptions about Asian Cultures
-Comparison of Key Asian Cultural Concepts
-Cultural Impact on Asian Management Issues
-Common Challenges in Managing Asian Diversity
-Strategies for Effective Asian Management
-Benchmarking Practices for Global Effectiveness

For more information visit Research Markets
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Cross-cultural competence

Cross-cultural competence (3C), another term for inter-cultural competence, has generated its own share of contradictory and confusing definitions, due to the wide variety of academic approaches and professional fields attempting to achieve it for their own ends. One author identified no fewer than eleven different terms with some equivalence to 3C: cultural savvy, astuteness, appreciation, literacy or fluency, adaptability, terrain, expertise, competency, awareness, intelligence, and understanding (Selmeski, 2007).

Organizations from fields as diverse as business, health care, government security and developmental aid agencies, academia, and non-governmental organizations have all sought to leverage 3C in one guise or another, often with poor results due to a lack of rigorous study of the phenomenon and reliance on “common sense” approaches based on the culture developing the 3C models in the first place (Selmeski, 2007).

The U.S. Army Research Institute, which is currently engaged in a study of the phenomenon, defines 3C as: “A set of cognitive, behavioral, and affective/motivational components that enable individuals to adapt effectively in intercultural environments” (Abbe et al., 2007). Cross-cultural competence does not operate in a vacuum, however. One theoretical construct posits that 3C, language proficiency, and regional knowledge are distinct skills that are inextricably linked, but to varying degrees depending on the context in which they are employed. In educational settings, Bloom’s affective and cognitive taxonomies (Bloom, 1956; Krathwohl, Bloom, & Masia, 1973) serve as an effective framework to describe the overlap area between the three disciplines: at the receiving and knowledge levels 3C can operate with near independence from language proficiency or regional knowledge, but as one approaches the internalizing and evaluation levels the required overlap area approaches totality.

Read more > Multi-National Multi-Cultural Collaboration 
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The Interculturale Theatre Storytelling Laboratory


The Interculturale Theatre Storytelling Laboratory



Presents

the gift of diversity

Intercultural Theatre Storytelling Festival

II Edition - Rome, May 8-24 2008
The idea

Interculture means confront, exchange and communication among diverse cultures, towards an opened view and a larger dialogue between differences, against each discrimination. However, somehow, privileging interest to origins and traditions of the person that we meet - even if he is rich and amazing - and that normally we call a stranger, we may risk to forget his true particularity, maybe the most important thing: his story and not his country's one, his experience and not his people's one, his emotions and feelings, not his race's one. So, we can make the mistake to build a weak and false image, a masquerade, where people are just playing roles: the African, the Chinese, the Arabian and so on. Words are important and, when concepts linked to them have a fundamental value in our life, contradictions are not possible. We are different or equal? We can't be both, this is our provocation. If you think we are all unique, then, maybe, you could agree with the idea behind this project: the most powerful, significant and revolutionary way to have an intercultural point of view, in other words, to underline the importance of differences and richness inside our individuality, is to show the diversity of people that often think themselves as equal (not celebrating the equality of strangers...), to tell how much they are interesting to listen when they are speaking of themselves and how all become wonderful if they are so proud to mix each others.


II Edition

In May 2008 we’ll present the second edition of this festival. The last year, the first one was thought to put the bases and this time we whish to show our idea of interculture. Local or foreign artists, considering their diversity as a gift, will tell their story with their personal language or dialect. Because Italy and all countries in the world are wonderfully multicultural places even without immigrants, which are just other colours to improve the rainbow…

Almost seventy artists and companies, since North to South, sent us their proposals, convincing us that our point of view is not so crazy. After a hard selection will present nine shows from all Italy. The aim is to create a space where, thanks to Theatre Storytelling, interculture will become just culture, while actors and public will agree that diversity is the first value to celebrate.

The participants are, in order of appearance:

May 8, 9.00 p.m.: “Scantu[1]”, by and with Adele Tirante, “Cosa sono le nuvole” and “Viaggio inverso”

May 9, 9.00 p.m.: "Francesco Pileggi, the true story of a man of honour[2]",

by and with  Andrea Chianelli

May 10, 9.00 p.m.: “Calafrica[3]”, by and with Manuela Valenti

May 15, 9.00 p.m.: “Refugees”, by and with “Rataplab”

May 16, 9.00 p.m.: “Zagara”, by and with Maria Cristina Sarò

May 17, 9.00 p.m.: “It’s spring”, by and with Antonio Carletti

May 22, 9.00 p.m.: “Horrible heritage on the lake[4]”,

by and with “The differents, almost equal but different”

May 23, 9.00 p.m.: “The town of Punt”, by and with Elisa Menchicchi

May 24, 9.00 p.m. : “The true story of Jean Baptiste du Val-de-Grâce, orator of the human race”,

by and with Alessandro Ghebreigziabiher and Cecilia Moreschi

The festival will be at the Studio Uno Theatre (www.studiounoteatro.it), in Rome,

Via Carlo della Rocca, 6.

The Laboratory:

The Intercultural theatre storytelling laboratory is directed by Alessandro Ghebreigziabiher (www.alessandroghebreigziabiher.it), with the precious collaboration of Cecilia Moreschi.

Information:

Luisa Moreschi

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Web: www.narrazioneinterculturale.org

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Medical staff require training on intercultural awareness

Medical staff require professional interpreters and specific training on intercultural awareness, a new study published in the open access journal BMC Health Services Research suggests. The authors reveal that doctors are dissatisfied with the treatment they provide to their non-native patients, and that they cite cultural differences and language barriers as the key factors causing the disappointment with the level of care that they provide.

Birgit Babitsch from the Berlin Institute of Gender in Medicine in Germany, and co-workers from Berlin and the UK, gathered the results of questionnaires completed by doctors working in the internal medicine and gynaecology departments of three Berlin hospitals. The responses were then narrowed down to those relating to native Germans and those of Turkish origin and analysed in conjunction with the patients’ medical records. Over 2400 doctor questionnaires and corresponding patient records were finally analyzed.

The researchers found that doctors’ dissatisfaction with the patient-doctor relationship was much greater with regard to their Turkish patients. The two main reasons given were communication difficulties and the doctors’ perceptions that the Turkish patients did not always require urgent treatment. Around 20% of doctors were dissatisfied with the course of treatment for Turkish patients, compared to 10% for German patients. Minor differences were found in doctors’ satisfaction with regard to the patient’s gender.

Dr Babitsch states: “The use of professional interpreters for improved communication and the training of medical staff for improved intercultural competence are essential for the provision of adequate health care in a multicultural setting.”

Read more > EurekAlert
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Multilingual jobs website

Lingua-Jobs is proud to announce the official launch of Lingua-Jobs.com, an exciting new job portal dedicated to the entire spectrum of multilingual and bilingual job vacancies on a global level.

The new language job site aims to connect ethnically diverse language groups with employers committed to fostering a diverse workplace or simply having the need to recruit for language speakers.

As the European Union, the Internet and other globalizing forces create new and expanding business relationships throughout the world, Lingua-Jobs.com provides clients with access to talent not found at more generalized job boards. With this focused talent pool, we help our clients leverage the advantages of diversity, filling key positions and increasing the strength of their organizations.

Read more > Lingua-Jobs 
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Translation of food labels

Translation of food labels
Revere's (Massachusetts, USA) diverse community has given rise to a number of ethnic restaurants and grocery stores brimming with international products from countries such as Cambodia, Lebanon, and Thailand.


While these restaurants and stores provide a taste of home for immigrants, they may be confusing for residents who want to try new things but cannot read foreign-language packaging.

This was one of the arguments used by City Councilor George Rotondo when he asked, by way of a council motion, that Revere stores that sell products in a foreign language provide an English translation.

"I embrace diversity. I live it," said Rotondo, whose wife is from Colombia and who can speak or read five languages. "Unfortunately, I believe it's unfair that you go to a store and see something there and don't know what it is, and have to rely on someone telling you what it is."

His colleagues on the council last month approved the motion, which then made its way to Mayor Thomas G. Ambrosino's desk. There it met a speedy death.

"The council passed it and the mayor vetoed it," Rotondo said. "He thought it was 'silly'; he wrote that in a letter to me."

"I just thought it was kind of foolish," Ambrosino said in an interview. "First of all, I don't think we have the authority to have private companies translate their products into English. And I don't think it's an effort in which we ought to be expending our efforts."

Read more > Revere 
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Understanding the transcultural consumer

Press Release, San Francisco, CA, January 06, 2008 :

“The more than 100 million multicultural consumers in the US, are not just multi-colored or multi-lingual but cross-cultural and transcultural as well. They are rapidly evolving and challenging the definition of “ethnic” or “multicultural” marketing,” says Valerie Romley, Chief Research Officer and author of "Beyond Translation; The Marketer's Field Guide to Understanding Today's Transcultural Consumer".

“What was effective yesterday is no longer relevant and what is effective today may not resonate with tomorrow’s moving targets. It’s time for marketers to go beyond relying on translation and color and language based segmentation and understand the roles that culture and context have in influencing beliefs and attitudes and driving consumer behavior.”

Read more> Beyond Translation 
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88% of clinical professionals encounter non-English speaking patients

More than 88 percent of America clinical research, healthcare, and medical device industry professionals surveyed encounter non-English speaking patients and subjects on a regular basis. The November 2007 survey, which was conducted by Global Language Solutions (GLS), polled the firm's clients and industry contacts on the types of languages spoken by their patients or research subjects, as well as the one(s) used most often.

GLS, which specializes in translation and interpreting services for the medical devices, pharmaceutical, and healthcare industries, was not surprised to find Spanish as the non-English language most commonly cited by respondents; with 90 percent those surveyed who encounter non-English languages listing it as the most common. Other languages listed included French (37 percent), Chinese (25 percent), and Russian (20 percent).

Read more> GLS 
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88% of clinical professionals encounter non-English speaking patients

More than 88 percent of America clinical research, healthcare, and medical device industry professionals surveyed encounter non-English speaking patients and subjects on a regular basis. The November 2007 survey, which was conducted by Global Language Solutions (GLS), polled the firm's clients and industry contacts on the types of languages spoken by their patients or research subjects, as well as the one(s) used most often.

GLS, which specializes in translation and interpreting services for the medical devices, pharmaceutical, and healthcare industries, was not surprised to find Spanish as the non-English language most commonly cited by respondents; with 90 percent those surveyed who encounter non-English languages listing it as the most common. Other languages listed included French (37 percent), Chinese (25 percent), and Russian (20 percent).

Read more> GLS 
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Language and Culture are issues for midwives

Language and Culture are issues for midwives
The UK's population is growing. Part of that increase is fuelled by women from other countries having children here.

And as the Local Government Association (LGA), representing 400 councils in England and Wales, outlines to a House of Lords select committee how migration stretches community services, one midwife tells how the changes affect her.


For midwife Jayne Cozens, going to work these days is also becoming something of a geography lesson.

She has worked in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, for 12 years, and her caseloads are containing increasing numbers of foreign nationals from across the globe.

Language and culture are becoming more of an issue, as Mrs Cozens' job becomes ever more multi-cultural and multi-lingual.

"It can be a challenge explaining to a 17-year-old English girl what an amniocentesis is, let alone to a teenager from abroad who doesn't speak the language," she says.

There are cultural issues, too, which midwives must handle in the course of giving their advice to non-UK nationals.

"Chinese families tend to sleep together in the same room and the same bed.

"Children, new baby, mum and dad are all together. It's what they're used to, so you go to a house and there's a couple of mattresses on the floor.

"But our advice in relation to cot death is for women to not sleep with their babies, so if you have the whole family in together then that presents a problem."

Mrs Cozens said that in the course of her work "you do learn a few words" but that this is not enough to clearly explain the full message.

Read more> Language & Culture
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Spouse language skills part of revised migrant scheme

Husbands and wives of work visa applicants will have to prove their English language skills under plans unveiled by the government yesterday.

Home secretary Jacqui Smith announced that foreigners applying for spouse visas will have to undergo language tests.

She also said that criminals with unspent convictions will be refused entry, while the age at which people can come to the UK for marriage will be raised from 18 to 21.

The government is revamping the UK's migration system, introducing a tougher, points-based scheme. This will be introduced in five stages over the next 18 months.

Read more> Language

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English is foreign for 40% of primary school kids

English is foreign for 40% of primary school kids
Schools are struggling to cover the cost of providing specialist teachers for thousands of new immigrant pupils, headteachers warned today.




Forty per cent of primary age children in London now speak a language other than English at home and some schools take several new arrivals a week as pupils "appear from nowhere", heads have said.

The National Association of Head Teachers called for schools to be given the "infrastructureî they needed to get pupils whose first language is not English fluent enough to cope with the national curriculum as soon as possible.Read more> Language 
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International assignments - six steps to success

In the book, “The World is Flat,” By Thomas L. Friedman, the author famously writes, “‘Honey,’ I confided, ‘I think the world is flat.’”

With the onslaught of rapid globalisation, high-quality executive mobility has become more critical than ever for the success of many US companies. Nevertheless, many companies continue to struggle to make their international assignments effective.

A well-developed global mobility program must cover a comprehensive range of complex issues, such as housing, children’s education, and income taxes. In addition, many companies now are investing in family counselling and in cultural and language training with good results. These issues offer many opportunities for continual improvement and, fortunately, experts and service providers now are available to help.

However, while these are important issues for success, in the end, these issues deal with administrative policy, process, and financial costs. They do not address the effectiveness of the assignment. Global mobility programs—and the managers responsible for them—must be aligned with the overall business goals.

Read more: Success Abroad 
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An expat's view on intercultural communication

Portuguese expat Elizabet Fernandes enjoys the international atmosphere in her multilingual EU company, but finds that people get 'lost in translation’ and inherit one another's linguistic mistakes.

Lost in translation

English is the current working language but too often people ‘get lost in translation’ because the level and the knowledge of language amongst us varies from person to person. We also inherit each other’s linguistic mistakes and end up speaking a kind of ‘Euro-English’. I like to speak as many languages as possible so I prefer to speak Spanish, French or Italian depending on the nationality of my colleagues. Besides, with this job I can also use and develop my skills as a translator and that’s perfect.

Unfortunately it’s too hard to use Dutch on a daily basis as the Dutch immediately respond in English to foreigners even to Flemish people!

Culture games

Although Eurojust is a very multicultural environment it is still not very intercultural. My colleagues often don’t understand each other or tend to ‘over-react’. I have been fighting for intercultural training because it helps you to realise that different people (from different cultures) may react differently in similar situations and to respect that. I followed this training myself in Portugal so I know the impact and the benefits.

Read more: Holland 
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Learn the language before coming to the UK

Gordon Brown is ruling that medium-skilled migrants from outside the EU must speak and understand English. The “highly skilled” already have to; the unskilled, it seems, may remain uncomprehending. The Home Secretary adds enthusiastically that it will help integration if we “expect people coming through the skilled and slightly less-skilled route to actually be able to speak English”.

Well, duh! This is good news (though met with whingeing from employers who fear for their cheap labour, and from Tories who find it not fierce enough). It would be even better news if there were some mechanism to put the same onus on EU citizens who plan to stay, but since that is impossible we could at least refrain from gratuitously featherbedding them by putting up diversion signs in Polish to prevent lorry drivers “coming into conflict with road workers”.

Read more: Language 
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Family matters on expat assignment

In today’s digitalised, globalised world, where the words:  ‘cost-effective solutions’ and ‘bottom-line’ are a common language shared across the corporate spectrum.  Finally, issues of families and family support, so long concealed and little discussed within the corporate arena are now enjoying a renaissance.

The focus on maintaining a healthy ‘work/life balance’ is fuelling recognition amongst corporations that revenue is not the dominant factor in achieving the long-term goals of increased productivity and profitability.

Read more: Expats 
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Culture still a major factor in expat failure

The Cartus Emerging Trends in Global Mobility: Policies & Practices Survey shows that an accelerated shift from long-term to short-term international relocation assignments is expected by the end of 2009. China's popularity as a destination is growing the fastest when compared with the U.S., Great Britain and India.

Cartus, a global mobility management and workforce development consultant, conducted the survey with 184 respondents from companies in 25 major industry segments. The organizations surveyed represent more than 83,000 assignees and have headquarters in 19 different nations.

Cartus also identified why these international assignments fail, regardless of being on a short-term basis. The top three reasons were family adjustment, at 71%; assignee personal style, at 48%; and cultural differences, at 40%.

This is easily remedied with intercultural and language training, which more companies are offering. The survey shows that intercultural training was offered by 55% of companies in 2007, versus the 28% offered in 2004. Meanwhile, 58% of companies offered language services for families, an increase from 30% in 2004.

Read more: Cartus 
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Language and Cultural background holding foreign-born workers back

“When you're looking at skills and technical professions there's a good body there of commonality,” said Tom Ryan, who's in charge of Communitech's recruitment strategy. “What we also find is culture shock. We find culture shock and language as a two-part killer.”

Not always, according to Herbert Hess, president of Hess Associates, which provides a placement service for people looking for work in the IT sector. Hess said that while language and culture shock can be a problem for some immigrants looking for work, people from countries such as India are used to working 10 to 14 hours a day - the kind of work ethic employers are looking for. “They've got language skills, communication skills and are very well educated. They don't seem to have a problem in terms of fitting in.”

Hess said he's seeing more Middle Eastern people looking for work nowadays compared to previous years, when Russian and Asian workers dominated the field.

Read more: Hess 
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