TESOL EVONLINE 2005
Week 6: Topics of Interest and Topics from EOP
February 21- 27
is the guest lecturer for this week.
One relevant point to make about my professional background is
that I work almost exclusively in EOP, as opposed to EAP. Thus, the topics
about which I can best contribute to this discussion will be from that
specialty area. More on this later.
1. Topics of Interest to Group Members
However, in as much as this is our last week, I am also very interested
in hearing from all of you about any topics that you feel haven't been
covered and which you would still like to be covered. So, please do send
these in. I have no illusions that I can address all these topics, but
I might be able to speak to some. Beyond that, though, I think it is important
for the record, especially since the site is going to be staying up (not
sure how long), that we do identify these topics for future reference,
at the very least. Thanks for your input, then.
2. Topics from EOP
a. Background Perspective on Best Practices (BP)
b. Example Related to Organizational Needs Assessment (ONA)
Let me give you an example. One of the BP has to do with conducting an
Organizational Needs Assessment, or ONA. This is an NA process done very
early in working with a client and it is focused at the highest levels
of management. We need to educate our client in terms of the relatively
new field of language training in the workplace - for improved job performance.
There will be program design issues to address, co-worker issues, productivity
issues, etc., etc. This helps to establish our credibility that we know
what we are doing, because we know what issues are going to come up and
that they should be dealt with from the beginning. And that they have
to be dealt with by top management.
If you pull our target population off the floor for English training
for 1 hour a day on company time, for example, less work will be done.
Who picks up the slack? Can you realistically ask co-workers to cover
things and work harder? What if they get resentful and start advocating
for preferential training of their own too? So, we are into the need for
policy decisions right away. And upper management has to make these policy
decisions and set them, and get cooperation from line managers down the
organizational structure. It works much better going down from the outset,
than trying to push it up from the bottom later on.
And what if the Training Dept, or Human Resources, or wherever else the
language program is going to be housed, makes a program design decision
that runs counter to good language training principles. I was once asked
to do a language training program for a cruise line. The program would
last 6 weeks - with only 1 hour of training per week - that is, 6 total
hours of training. Okay, I trust you all can fill in the reason for multiple
!! So, no, I do not accept the decision of the Training Dept.
in this case. In corporate language training, I always say, "Know
when to lead and when to learn." We language types have a great deal
to learn from corporations, but we also must see ourselves as equal professionals
at the table and lead when it is professionally responsible to do so.
The ONA is also extremely important for achieving buy-in at top management
levels. If there are going to be so many issues to deal with, is the whole
program going to be worth the hassles? Here is where we can be very convincing
with cost-benefit analysis (CBA) and return on investment (ROI) data.
Although I have just been doing CBA and ROI since 1999, my experience
has been that a workplace language training program almost always brings
a positive result in CBA/ ROI. Thus, any manager who can do basic math
sees that it makes no sense to keep wasting corporate money, when much
less of an investment in language training will stop or reduce the money
they are losing now from job performance limited by low English proficiency
So, ONA, done when it should be, at the outset, can really help a program
get off on sound footing. Conversely, I have found that many times when
I am called in to evaluate or help fix a program, a major step that was
never done in setting up the program and making subsequent program decisions
was an ONA. What you don't take care of at the beginning is very likely
going to show up and bite you in the backside later. So, there are all
sorts of issues (messes) to address after the fact - when it is harder
to undo things. And, lest we forget our ultimate focus, the learners have
most likely been the most impacted and the most hurt.
Further, I have also found that I really need to check the comprehensive
list of BPs. When I might be tempted to skip over something, I think a
little longer and realize that there is likely some dimension of each
BP that is relevant to include when I am either planning a program from
the outset or reviewing a program that has run into trouble. For example,
I have dealt with a few programs that have been set up internally within
a company. At first, I thought I would not need to deal with the BP of
Marketing. I didn't have to come knocking on the company door to "sell"
the program. It was already "sold" and in operation. What I
have now learned to look at, though, is *internal* marketing. Who, internally,
had to be sold to put the program in the budget? How did they get convinced?
Is this persuasion based on sound knowledge of EOP program principles?
What are we going to have to do to keep the program funded? Etc., etc.
So, what I have learned for this BP is that, while I may not have to address
external marketing, I sure as heck better address internal marketing.
So the Best Practices give me pause for not missing something important
I might not otherwise have thought about.
I would be interested in feedback as to whether more elaboration on any
of the above - or any other EOP applications of the Best Practices - is
of interest to the group. For any of you working with corporations, or
workplace organizations of any type, please let me know what issues you
have run into in your work.
And don't forget to let us know of other ESL-to-ESP topics that haven't
been covered, which you would like to see addressed. Thanks.
Best wishes to all,
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