Orlando Kelm?s webpage (the Business Language Project section) provides over 170 brief video clips of interviews in which more than sixty Latin American and Spanish executives offer a variety of opinions on cultural differences and business practices. The interviews include topics on Negotiation, Language, Courtesy and Social Situations, and Time and Scheduling.The material is presented in the target languages, either Spanish or Portuguese, with Quicktime movies of the actual interview session. Transcripts and translations into English are also included.
The interviews provide realistic business situations in which natural and realistic language is employed. There are transcriptions and translations of the interviews which are ideal for analyzing a variety of linguistic elements, e.g., idiomatic expressions, syntactic and semantic nuances, dialect differences and grammar in a context.
The Spanish site also includes video clips containing the transcripts and translations from various role-play scenarios for teaching Spanish to policemen and nurses. Additional materials include Spanish and Portuguese video clips of sample proficiency levels ranging from beginning to superior levels.
The business language component seeks to develop cross-cultural sensitivity and language proficiency in Spanish and Portuguese to conduct business in Latin America and Spain. It focuses on issues related to business culture (negotiation, language registers, courtesy, social situations, and time and scheduling.) It serves as a valuable tool in developing bilingual business professionals.
Target Student Population:
The site is designed for undergraduates with at least a high-intermediate or advanced language proficiency in Spanish and/or Portuguese; desiring to learn business concepts, and develop the language associated with conducting business.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Learners should have listening, speaking and reading skills with a minimum range of a high intermediate through advanced proficiency levels.
Type of Material:
Teacher Resource, Tutorial and Collection
These materials could be used either in the classroom or as a self-directed learning experience.
Quick Time plug-in
Evaluation and Observation
The video clips of native speakers discussing the different business scenarios serve as models for students to use for speaking and writing. The video clips serve as models for the students? own oral presentations. The accompanying transcripts of the video sequences serve for analysis of the grammar and vocabulary in use.The use of transcriptions in both the target language/and native language provide an instant feedback for developing listening comprehension and reading skills. The cultural interviews are made all the more interesting by the Quick Time movies. A feeling of immediacy is created by watching the speaker discuss the practical subjects that one faces in a business setting. It is possible to replay the interviews to improve listening comprehension. One can verify reading comprehension with the transcription. The English is always available to clear up any comprehension difficulties.
In the Business Portuguese modules, Falando de Negocios, Portugues Comercial there is a wealth of interviews treating such areas as Economics, Finance, Human Resources, Foreign Trade, Banking, Accounting, the stock market and sales. Clicking on a topic, such as Accounting just for one example, will reveal the interview questions in a frame to the left of the screen, followed by links to the interviewees who answer the questions. To the right of the screen, clicking on the picture of the interviewee starts the Quick Time movie on the topic. The user can also click to find a glossary of accounting terms with English equivalents and click on another box to find interactive exercises with feedback on the topic.
Since most videoclips are defined according to proficiency levels, there should be a description of these. The levels could also be compared to the current ACTFL proficiency levels.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
The webpage is designed for students having a possible wide range of ability levels. The course is designed so that the language, content, and the materials are sufficiently flexible and student-centered.
The use of interviews that include business executives using peninsular and non-peninsular Spanish helps the listener to distinguish the similarities and differences in the use of language, e.g., accents, intonation, and vocabulary within the specialized use of business language.
The inclusion of written transcripts aids in creating a great variety of classroom activities that help the learner model and develop natural language patterns in speaking and writing. In addition, the transcripts are invaluable in analyzing the grammatical patterns using content-based materials.
Kelm includes teaching ideas for instructors using the course materials and provides suggestions for presenting the listening component, writing, and assessment. He also recommends the presentation of cultural topics to help understand the interviews. Some of these include: Business Meals, Concept of Time, Machismo, Race, Color, Sex ,Work Hours, etc. These suggestions are invaluable to instructors because the author?s input is based on actual classroom teaching experience with the underlying second language methodology.
The multisensory format of these materials make them very rich. It would be easy to project the interviews on a large screen in the classroom and use them as points of departure for a more in-depth discussion.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
There are clear directions to navigate throughout the site. Each page has a similar design with a navigation bar with categories for the different interviews.Each category has a variety of questions formulated that appear on the left of the screen. Under each of these questions are listed the interviewees by name. The name, country of origin, the Spanish transcript, and the English translation appear with each video plug-in on the screen. The interviews last between two to five minutes in length. The speech is generally clear and very natural with the expected pauses, repetitions, etc.
The background pages might be distracting to some viewers. They may appear somewhat busy.