How Do Language and Culture Affect Workplace Success? - Adult English Language Acquisition Discussion List


The Adult English language Acquisition (ELA) discussion list will host a discussion during the week of December 13- 17, 2010. The topic is "How do Culture and Language Affect Workplace Success" with Joan Pougiales as the guest facilitator. The following is an overview of the discussion, a biography of the guest facilitator, and a suggestion for pre-discussion reading.

During the week of November 12 – 16, Sharon McKay led a discussion on "Culture Shock in the Classroom: Yours and Theirs." During that discussion, list subscribers explored some features in students’ cultures that sometimes conflict with the expectations of a typical U.S. classroom. The upcoming discussion expands on those ideas by moving into the workplace. "How Do Culture and Language Affect Workplace Success" will explore the more subtle cultural differences of communicative style – those rules of communication that are followed more or less unconsciously, but which change from culture to culture, and thus are frequently implicated in misunderstandings, stereotypes and discrimination in the workplace. Workplace success requires more than just language and technical skills. The workplace is an inherently political site, and teachers need to prepare students to navigate it successfully. It is expected that at the end of the discussion, list subscribers will have identified some of the communication challenges - besides English ability - facing English language learner (ELL) workers, and that the discussion will generate some strategies for improving these English language learners’ chances for success in the U.S. workplace.

Guest Facilitator

Joan Pougiales received her MA in Linguistics from the University of Oregon and has taught and developed Vocational English as a Second Language (VESL) programs for immigrants and refugees since 1984. She returned to school and earned her Ph.D. in Rhetoric from the University of Minnesota, where her interest centered on the intersection of ESL, organizational communication, and intercultural communication. Her dissertation research was an ethnographic investigation of a multicultural/multilingual workplace and the dynamics that led to dysfunctions in that workplace. She uses the results of her research to help employers develop effective workplace practices. Since 1996 she has worked as an independent consultant, providing curriculum design services, manager training, and workplace analysis for businesses and nonprofits.

Suggested Resource


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