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Teaching working practices the British way

by Sue Annan

I really love my job. I live on a small island; 9 miles long and only 5 miles wide. To go to work I follow the coastline round to the college where I work, and as our students come for anything from two weeks to a year, I have plenty of variety each week. We are an attractive destination for students who want to have a holiday while studying and I work mainly with students from the European mainland.

I’ve just spent the last few weeks teaching BE to a lovely mixed class. Today while exploring the topic of job interviews, which the class had requested, I asked them to create a list of interview questions, from the perspective of the employer. On sharing their work, some interesting points of contrast arose.

The Italian software consultant was horrified that anyone would expect her to put her age on her CV, much less ask her to email a recent photograph to a prospective employer. The human resources manager was adamant that this was standard practice in Spain. Even my Czech and Slovakian students (both head-hunters) disagreed about what was acceptable, and they are geographically-close neighbours!

Each of my students will be interviewed in their own country, except for the young Frenchman looking for a placement in Australia.

The discussion led to a genuine interest in the working practices of the other countries and a grammar mcnugget of the language used for comparing and contrasting, so the afternoon wasn’t unproductive.

My question for you is -What benefit is there, other than for the discussion value, in teaching these things the British way? Is our linguistic and cultural imperialism still acceptable in the classroom via the British BE course book?