An ESL Innovation for International Schools
Issue 50 Winter 2008
Business schools have a vested interest in ensuring that all students are proficient in English to properly prepare them for a global business world.
More and more business schools located in non-English countries offer English MBA programs to prepare graduates for the worldwide “language of business” while enrolling foreign students with a tested English proficiency to “internationalize”.
Most students with English as a second language, who often constitute 10 to 20 per cent of American and Canadian business schools, have acceptable English (as measured by TOEFL) but don’t fully understand oral English (pronunciation and comprehension). They usually read more slowly, have an English accent which is often difficult to understand, and it’s not clear that they comprehend everything being said.
While these students nevertheless complete their program through very hard work and many extra hours, one of the authors has observed that in North-American, European and Asian MBA classes, foreign students are often slowly segregated as courses commence, and cultural and social diversity is not always enriched. Often international and multi-cultural enrichment does not compensate for the risk of lower grades and additional work for local students. They neither want limited communication to hold back their working groups nor to be in charge of all the reports and/or presentations.
These observations demonstrate an absolute need for better oral (and written) English skills to improve the educational outcome of all students with English as a second language entering the global business world.
Universities frequently address this problem with expensive ESL labs and English tutors. Many MBA programs also offer classes on business report writing and presentations which don’t address the serious communication deficiencies of non-native English speaking students who require individual tutoring and mentoring. Few, if any, MBA program have the resources to tackle individual deficiencies.
Non-native English speaking students will soon have a fairly inexpensive but quite effective personal online ESL tools accessible from anywhere in the world through a PC and an Internet connection.
One that is not much different than English tutoring will be “Business as a Second Language” (“BSL”) which will be available in 2009 from BusinessWeek at an expected price of $20 per month. BSL will be an electronic English tutor that will help intermediate and advanced English learners perfect English pronunciation and oral and reading comprehension at “normal” speaking and reading speed. It will provide business content, with instant feedback on pronunciation.
These web-based tools will individually tutor and coach individuals with basic English who need to perfect their oral and reading skills. They will allow students to speak and:
• Measure – pronunciation instantly and in reports
• Playback – how it should sound
• Practice – correct and perfect
• Comprehend – dictionary lookup
These new technological innovations have the potential to reduce business schools’ ESL lab capital investments and ESL tutoring operating costs while graduating more proficient students.
You may obtain your own free trial subscription of Business as a Second Language from www.businessweekbsl.com/2020.
Jean-Louis Malouin Ph. D. is Past Professor and Dean of the Business Schools of the University of Alberta, Laval University in Quebec City and the University of Ottawa. He presently teaches an MBA Business Strategy course in Asia.
Glenn McInnes is the President of 2020 Higher Education International and was the founding president of the University of Fredericton which offers a fully online EMBA. He is the chair of the Canadian Bureau for International Education SIG on e-International Education and past national president of the Canadian Information Processing Society. firstname.lastname@example.org
2020 Higher Education provides strategic guidance on best academic and business practices for international online universities.
The Central and East European Management Development Association (CEEMAN) was established in 1993 with the aim of accelerating the growth in quality of management development in central and Eastern Europe. Gradually CEEMAN has become a global network of management development institutions interested in quality of education and innovations in this field, as well as in the broad area of subjects related to change. CEEMAN has expanded to include 170 institutional and individual members from 42 countries in Europe, North America, Latin America, and Asia.