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Asian Business Communication

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Joined: 06 May 2003
Posts: 109
Location: Austria (The Hills are Alive)

PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2004 9:08 am    Post subject: Asian Business Communication Reply with quote

I don't usually post on this board but maybe you can help me out. I teach Austrian engineers and they frequently have business trips to Singapore, Hong Kong, China, and Japan. I have been asked, "How do I communicate with these people in a business setting? Their English is so difficult to understand." Could you give me some basic tips about English communication in these cultures? Is the difficulty related to the actual problems of English or related to a different way of thinking? Any special characteristics of Chinglish or Singlish? I want to help them but I can't figure out if the students mean they have difficulty understanding because of the customs or because of the actual pronunciation and grammar. For example, stating things directly vs. indirectly or talking in one tense all the time. Thanks for your help. I realize this is a vast subject. I just need a direction to go in!
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Joined: 16 Sep 2003
Posts: 386

PostPosted: Sun May 23, 2004 12:42 pm    Post subject: google yer heart out Reply with quote

It's amazing what you can find on google if you put in the time. In the meantime, speak slowly, use the present tense, use a small vocabulary, become a master of paraphrasing, avoid plurals, say "I go" instead of "I am going", avoid the use of "the" and "a", bring a notebook so that you can spell things out, bring a Chinese-English dictionary, don't expect them to say "is" in the appropriate places, and.....
whew- I am exhausted just thinking about it. hahaha- don't forget to tell them how good their English is.
Expect speeches to begin with the reason for the speech. Expect sentences to begin with time expressions. Expect that sentences will be long and convoluted, with commas used where semicolons and periods should be. When trying to understand the meaning of an indecipherable sentence, imagine the writer using a thesaurus without using a dictionary.
In your internet search, use keywords like "common Chinese errors student writing", "oral English Chinese errors how to fix them", and "ESL phonemes" (spelling?).
Some errors that make their English indecipherable to us come from their use of different "Englishes". For example, as an American, I say, "He grew up in Arizona". A Chinese student of British English with little knowledge of American geography would say "He grew up at Arizona State". Which would confuse the heck out of me. To me, Arizona State is a school with a good basketball team! Good luck!!!
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