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.

The International Business of Language

The International Business of Language



Whilst the world is beginning to shrink with the opening up in communication and travel, so the world of business expands. In the last two decades never has there been such a need in the business world than to have a full, comprehensive knowledge and understanding of language and its impact across the globe. How much emphasis is given to language in your business? Language is the base communication throughout your business. Language transcends all in the business world. It is what makes the world the place it is and helps us to communicate with others.
Language as a tool in business should be seen as exactly that, a tool. Language should be as important to your business as your hard drives, your catalogues and manuals and all the other tools you perceive to be essential to conducting your business.

If you see language as a tool within your business you are more likely to foster the care and attention you need to place upon the way in which you use language. Perhaps you should adopt the mantra ‘language isn’t just for talking’. Language is for all communication. Some tips to help you to start using your tool of language in order to maximise your communication with your business counterparts. Firstly, you must be very clear and concise about the messages you wish to convey. Cut out the unnecessary words, don’t be convoluted about it, stick to the point and you will ensure you have been fully understood. Remember, and don’t forget, language is a tool and you want your tools to work for you. Personal style goes a long way to say something about you so don’t let the day’s stresses or any personal setbacks to show in the way you use your tool of language, believe it or not, a frown, a shortness or abruptness of manner can be off putting and leave the person with whom you are communicating feeling unsettled. Language is your business tool so, smile, make eye contact, it’s all part of the language. We call it body language.

It is extremely important in the world of business that your build good relationships. How do you do this? You use your language tool of course. It may seem like a time consuming exercise, may be even seen as patronising and pointless, but, if you are to succeed in fostering good, amicable and workable business relationships, a little training in how your company uses the language tool will not come amiss. Why not consider your own corporate brand of your valuable language tool? Why do you think the American’s use the phrase ‘have a nice day’? Because it works. Language says something about you. The language tool is your badge. Wear it well and you can’t go wrong.
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Working abroad 'requires translation of qualifications'

Working abroad 'requires translation of qualifications'



Professionals who are looking into the possibility of working abroad need to check that their qualifications "translate" into other countries.

According to expatriate and international lifestyle magazine Shelter Offshore, rules and regulations may also be different overseas, so professionals must ensure they do their research before deciding which country they wish to work in.

Rhiannon Davies, co-founder of Shelter Offshore, said professionals must also consider their own needs before making any firm plans.

She said: "If someone has a desire to live in a given country, they need to look at what businesses could work in that environment."

For example, a professional wanting to try working in Germany would need to carry out research into what type of business is successful in the country and where there may be a gap in the market.

Ms Davies was speaking after recent figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that there are almost three million full-time self-employed workers in the UK.

Read more > Shelter
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"Immigration changes will not cause UK skills exodus"

Multinational firms have rushed to the defence of immigration changes introduced last week, claiming the new rules will "make no difference" to UK employers' ability to attract overseas talent.

The new rules, which came into effect on 6 April, mean skilled migrant workers transferring from an overseas country to work at their company's British offices will no longer be able to clock up time spent in the UK to contribute towards the five years required to apply for permanent residence.

Employment lawyers and migrant campaign groups had warned the changes to the intra-company transfer (ICT) system could cause a skills exodus and put migrants off working in the UK.

Read more > Immigration
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EC plans Translation & Interpreting Rights

EC plans Translation & Interpreting Rights



All EU governments will be obliged to provide full interpretation and translation for criminal suspects under European Commission plans.

The idea is to help people "exercise their fair trial rights anywhere in the EU when they cannot understand the language of the case" said a statement.

The Commission cites the examples of an Italian tourist involved in a car crash in Sweden who was not allowed to talk to an Italian-speaking lawyer during his trial, and the Polish suspect denied access to written translations of evidence used against him in a French court.

Such "unexpected barriers" could lead to unfair convictions during legal proceedings in other EU countries.

The proposal - requested three months ago by EU ministers themselves - is the first step under the new Lisbon Treaty towards setting common EU standards in criminal cases.

The Treaty allows the EU to adopt measures "to strengthen the rights of EU citizens, in line with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights", said the statement.

Read more > EU
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International Business Etiquette App for iPhone

 



Commisceo have today launched their first App for the iPhone.

The 'International Business Etiquette' App features information for business travellers on topics such as language, culture, etiquette and business protocol.

To download to your iPhone please go to the App Store and search under "international business etiquette".

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IHRM - Repatriation Management

IHRM - Repatriation Management



Despite ongoing concerns about high expatriate attrition rates companies do not seem to be paying a lot of attention to the repatriation phase. A similar observation can be made in HRM journals; whereas expatriation has been researched extensively during the last decades, repatriation has received scarce attention in literature. The purpose of this article is, therefore, to highlight the relevance of repatriation management in the earliest stages of expatriate management.

Recent research indicates that successful expatriation assignments rely on four elements: the selection of the candidates, pre-arrival preparation for both expatriate and family, the provided support and possibility to keep in touch with the home organization while on an expatriate assignment, and the repatriation arrangements after completion of the assignment (Baruch and Altman, 2002). That appropriate attention to repatriation arrangements is important follows out of various observations: (1) Valuable personnel frequently leave the organization relatively shortly after repatriation. Research findings from 2002 showed that about 50% of personnel left a financial services company within a few years following the return to their home country (Baruch & Altman, 2002).

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MoJ Translation Spend over £20 million

MoJ Translation Spend over £20 million



The Ministry of Justice admitted it has spent more than £20 million pounds on interpreters and translators in the last two years, fuelling concerns over the impact immigration is having on the public purse.

The figure included £11.8 million spent in 2007/08 which was higher than MPs had previously been told in a series of parliamentary written answers.

One, to Dominic Grieve, the shadow justice secretary, last year was more than £1 million short of the true figure, while Damian Green, the shadow immigration minister, was told spending had been £11.4 million.

Another, in 2008, only had figures for translation services and not interpreters while the fourth suggested more than £28 million had been spent in that year.

Read more > Telegraph
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Soft expatriates: Successful expatriation in a nutshell

Soft expatriates: Successful expatriation in a nutshell


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Barbie goes Multicultural

Barbie goes Multicultural



The look is part of an exhibition, backed by Barbie creator Mattel, of the doll in multicultural outfits by Italian designer Eliana Lorena.

Two of the Barbies are wearing the burka, the loose fitting robe with veiled holes for the eyes which is worn by some Muslim women.

The collection of more than 500 Barbies is being sold at a Sotheby's charity auction in Florence, Italy, in aid of Save The Children.

The sale is part of Barbie celebrations for her 50th anniversary this year.

Britain's biggest Barbie collector Angela Ellis, 35, who owns more than 250 dolls, said: "I think this is really important for girls, wherever they are from they should have the opportunity to play with a Barbie that they feel represents them.

"I Know Barbie was something seen as bad before as an image for girls, but in actual fact the message with Barbie for women is you can be whatever you want to be.

"I like the 70s, 80s and 90s ones that have reflected my life and I picked the really outstanding ones, the really different ones that have a message for my collection.

"I have a Barbie in a wheelchair that was only out for six weeks."

Read more > Barbie
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Which Language is Spoken Where?

At Commisceo we like to react to our customers needs. One thing we noticed with many of our valued translation and interpreting clients was that sometimes they were unsure as to what languages are spoken in which countries.

So what do we do? We invent a little widget that answers this for them in a second! The widget can be added to their own site and will soon also become a Google Widget (watch this space).

SORRY NO LONGER AVAILABLE

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Expat Children - Third Culture Kids

Expat Children - Third Culture Kids



In a world where international careers are becoming commonplace, the phenomenon of third culture kids (TCKs) – children who spend a significant portion of their developmental years in a culture outside their parents’ passport culture(s) – is increasing exponentially. Not only is their number increasing, but the cultural complexity and relevance of their experience and the adult TCKs (ATCKs) they become, is also growing.

When Ruth Hill Useem, a sociologist, first coined this term in the 1950s, she spent a year researching expatriates in India. She discovered that folks who came from their home (or first) culture and moved to a host (or second) culture, had, in reality, formed a culture, or lifestyle, different from either the first or second cultures. She called this the third culture and the children who grew up in this lifestyle third culture kids. At that time, most expatriate families had parents from the same culture and they often remained in one host culture while overseas.

This is no longer the case. Take, for example, Brice Royer, the founder of TCKid.com. His father is a half-French/half-Vietnamese UN peacekeeper while his mom is Ethiopian. Brice lived in seven countries before he was eighteen including France, Mayotte, La Reunion, Ethiopia, Egypt, Canada, and England. He writes, “When people ask me ‘Where are you from?,’ I just joke around and say, ‘My mom says I’m from heaven’.” What other answer can he give?

Read more > Telegraph
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HealthForumOnline Adds Cultural Competency to their Online Education

HealthForumOnline Adds Cultural Competency to their Online Education
HealthForumOnline (HFO), a nationally-approved (APA, ASWB, NBCC, PSNA, CA-BBS) provider of online continuing education (CE) for psychologists, social workers, counselors, nurses and other allied healthcare professionals announces the addition of a new online CE course for health professionals working with children and their families, Cultural Competency in Pediatric Psychology: Issues & Clinical Applications to their extensive online continuing education library.

This addition to HFO's online CE course selection is important as psychologists, social workers, counselors, nurses and other allied health care professionals in the U.S. have had a growing awareness of a shift in the demographic characteristics of their pediatric patients and their families over the last decade. Among them, is a marked change indicating a growing trend towards a more multi-ethnic society. However, despite this demographic shift, evidence suggests that Americans still do not equally share in the hope for recovery from mental illness despite the availability of effective and well-documented treatments.

Although a decade has passed since the U.S. Surgeon General first asserted that culture counts in mental health research and treatment, little has been done to address cultural variables in any way. One review of the research literature reported that only 11% of American samples included minority participants (i.e., African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanics), only18% reported the SES of participants, and only 6% discussed potential moderating cultural variables such as a specific ethnic-related variable. Moreover, the existing literature typically focuses on adults, further limiting our ability to offer theory- and evidence-based interventions that are culturally sensitive to an entire population base - children and their families. Not surprisingly, U.S. minorities, particularly children, continue to face obstacles to accessing mental health care, including barriers related to language, geography and cultural familiarity, resulting in culturally-based disparities in the quality of care received and mental health outcome.

Read more > HFO
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HealthForumOnline Adds Cultural Competency to their Online Education

HealthForumOnline Adds Cultural Competency to their Online Education
HealthForumOnline (HFO), a nationally-approved (APA, ASWB, NBCC, PSNA, CA-BBS) provider of online continuing education (CE) for psychologists, social workers, counselors, nurses and other allied healthcare professionals announces the addition of a new online CE course for health professionals working with children and their families, Cultural Competency in Pediatric Psychology: Issues & Clinical Applications to their extensive online continuing education library.

This addition to HFO's online CE course selection is important as psychologists, social workers, counselors, nurses and other allied health care professionals in the U.S. have had a growing awareness of a shift in the demographic characteristics of their pediatric patients and their families over the last decade. Among them, is a marked change indicating a growing trend towards a more multi-ethnic society. However, despite this demographic shift, evidence suggests that Americans still do not equally share in the hope for recovery from mental illness despite the availability of effective and well-documented treatments.

Although a decade has passed since the U.S. Surgeon General first asserted that culture counts in mental health research and treatment, little has been done to address cultural variables in any way. One review of the research literature reported that only 11% of American samples included minority participants (i.e., African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanics), only18% reported the SES of participants, and only 6% discussed potential moderating cultural variables such as a specific ethnic-related variable. Moreover, the existing literature typically focuses on adults, further limiting our ability to offer theory- and evidence-based interventions that are culturally sensitive to an entire population base - children and their families. Not surprisingly, U.S. minorities, particularly children, continue to face obstacles to accessing mental health care, including barriers related to language, geography and cultural familiarity, resulting in culturally-based disparities in the quality of care received and mental health outcome.

Read more > HFO
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EHRC accused of requesting ethnic minority staff to join BNP

EHRC accused of requesting ethnic minority staff to join BNP


The equality watchdog is conducting an internal investigation into allegations that a director asked minority employees to join the British National Party (BNP), testing the party's constitution ahead of a legal case.

A source says the senior manager asked staff in a teleconference to identify employees at the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) from a black and ethnic minority background who could be asked to join the far-right BNP.

The EHRC allegedly wanted to gather evidence that the BNP refused minority applicants to the party, in the build up to its legal case against the party's rules.

Read more > EHRC
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Culture and Medical Care

Culture and Medical Care



The patient in Room 328 had diabetes and hypertension. But when Va Meng Lee, a Hmong shaman, began the healing process by looping a coiled thread around the patient’s wrist, Mr. Lee’s chief concern was summoning the ailing man’s runaway soul.

“Doctors are good at disease,” Mr. Lee said as he encircled the patient, Chang Teng Thao, a widower from Laos, in an invisible “protective shield” traced in the air with his finger. “The soul is the shaman’s responsibility.”

At Mercy Medical Center in Merced, where roughly four patients a day are Hmong from northern Laos, healing includes more than IV drips, syringes and blood glucose monitors. Because many Hmong rely on their spiritual beliefs to get them through illnesses, the hospital’s new Hmong shaman policy, the country’s first, formally recognizes the cultural role of traditional healers like Mr. Lee, inviting them to perform nine approved ceremonies in the hospital, including “soul calling” and chanting in a soft voice.

The policy and a novel training program to introduce shamans to the principles of Western medicine are part of a national movement to consider patients’ cultural beliefs and values when deciding their medical treatment.

Read more > Mercy Medical Centre
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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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Stereotyping and Cross-Cultural Communication

Stereotyping and Cross-Cultural Communication



As more or more people from different backgrounds, countries, cultures and religions immigrate to foreign lands, those countries become an intercultural melting pot. In order for the native people and the immigrant population to blend and create a thriving and successful atmosphere both sides need to develop some sort of intercultural tolerance and understanding of the differences that may exist between them. An example of poor intercultural understanding, or one based simply on stereotypes, is offered by the town of Herouxville in Quebec, Canada.

A declaration issued by the town in January 2007, which was designed to inform immigrants, “that the way of life which they abandoned when they left their countries of origin cannot be recreated here [i.e. Herouxville]“. It then went on to state that the immigrant population would therefore have to refrain from their cultural norms and activities such as to “kill women by stoning them in public, burning them alive, burning them with acid, circumcising them, etc.”

Read more > Global Utah Weekly
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Stereotyping and Cross-Cultural Communication

Stereotyping and Cross-Cultural Communication



As more or more people from different backgrounds, countries, cultures and religions immigrate to foreign lands, those countries become an intercultural melting pot. In order for the native people and the immigrant population to blend and create a thriving and successful atmosphere both sides need to develop some sort of intercultural tolerance and understanding of the differences that may exist between them. An example of poor intercultural understanding, or one based simply on stereotypes, is offered by the town of Herouxville in Quebec, Canada.

A declaration issued by the town in January 2007, which was designed to inform immigrants, “that the way of life which they abandoned when they left their countries of origin cannot be recreated here [i.e. Herouxville]“. It then went on to state that the immigrant population would therefore have to refrain from their cultural norms and activities such as to “kill women by stoning them in public, burning them alive, burning them with acid, circumcising them, etc.”

Read more > Global Utah Weekly
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American Graduates Finding Jobs in China

American Graduates Finding Jobs in China
Shanghai and Beijing are becoming new lands of opportunity for recent American college graduates who face unemployment nearing double digits at home.

Joshua Arjuna Stephens, a 2007 graduate of Wesleyan University, works in Beijing for XPD Media, which makes online games.

Even those with limited or no knowledge of Chinese are heeding the call. They are lured by China’s surging economy, the lower cost of living and a chance to bypass some of the dues-paying that is common to first jobs in the United States.

“I’ve seen a surge of young people coming to work in China over the last few years,” said Jack Perkowski, founder of Asimco Technologies, one of the largest automotive parts companies in China.

“When I came over to China in 1994, that was the first wave of Americans coming to China,” he said. “These young people are part of this big second wave.”

Read more > China
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Faces and Cultural Differences

Faces and Cultural Differences



A new study suggests that people from different cultures read facial expressions differently.

East Asian participants in the study focused mostly on the eyes, but those from the West scanned the whole face.

In the research carried out by a team from Glasgow University, East Asian observers found it more difficult to distinguish some facial expressions.

The work published in Current Biology journal challenges the idea facial expressions are universally understood.

In the study, East Asians were more likely than Westerners to read the expression for "fear" as "surprise", and "disgust" as "anger".

The researchers say the confusion arises because people from different cultural groups observe different parts of the face when interpreting expression.

East Asian participants tended to focus on the eyes of the other person, while Western subjects took in the whole face, including the eyes and the mouth.

Read more > Global Faces
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