Tuesday, November 21, 2006

the punctual portuguese (?)

Nearly all Portuguese think of themselves as punctual but fault their fellow citizens for being late, the country's biggest survey of timeliness found.

Of the 3,462 respondents to the online study, 86.6 percent considered themselves as "usually" or "always" punctual in their personal and professional lives. When asked to rate the punctuality of the Portuguese in general, just 5.3 percent of the same respondents said their compatriots were "usually" punctual and a mere 0.1 percent said they were "always" punctual.

Read more: Portugal

The race to bring more diversity to business

There's a hole in higher education that you probably haven't heard about.

At American undergraduate schools, 23 percent of the students are black or Hispanic. At the top 20 colleges, they account for 14 percent of the student body. The top 20 law and medical schools? Fourteen to 15 percent. But at the top 20 business schools, blacks and Hispanics represent just 7 percent of the student body. In the current second-year class, that's about 900 people.

For companies struggling to diversify their ranks, those numbers make recruiting a little like chasing the only woman at a party of investment bankers. She can have anyone she wants, and just about everybody's going home alone.

Read more: USA
Posted by Kwintessential at 6:42 PM
Categories: Human Resources News

nursing must pay attention to issues of ethnicity and culture

We are all different: and while on the one hand we want those differences to be recognised, on the other we all want to be treated the same. This conundrum is proving too much for some in health and social care, where diversity is causing problems.

A survey of more than 400 mental health service users by the Mental Health Act Commission, reported in Community Care (Nov 16), found that people from ethnic minorities are more likely to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital. They are also more likely than white patients to say that while in hospital they are discriminated against, restrained, receive unwanted sexual advances and find staff unhelpful. Nursing Times (Nov 14) reports that “staff training needs to pay greater attention to issues of ethnicity and culture�?.

Read more: Survey

China to sponsor cultural, language institute at UMass-Boston

China has awarded the University of Massachusetts a $1 million grant to establish a nonprofit institute at the university's Boston campus to promote the teaching and understanding of Chinese language and culture.

The University of Massachusetts Confucius Institute will be the seventh such institute in the United States, but the first in New England, and is part of China's plans to create 100 similar institutes worldwide by 2010.

Read more: China
Posted by Kwintessential at 6:39 PM
Categories: Cross Cultural News

gestures speak louder than words

Language lives as much in our gestures as in our words, a new study shows.

Certain languages are richer in gesture, and such unspoken communication is so strong that bilingual individuals often use the fluent gestures from one language, even when speaking the words of another.

Simone Pika at the University of Alberta, Canada, and colleagues took a bilingual group who spoke gesture-rich languages like French and Spanish as their mother tongue, and English – a gesture-poor language – as their second language. As a control, the team also gathered a group of English-only speakers.

Each person was given a Pink Panther cartoon to describe in each of the languages they spoke. The results were clear: the bilingual individuals gestured more frequently when discussing the cartoon, even when speaking in English, Pika says.

Read more: Pika

survey: Foreign Language Skills Key to Improving Career Prospects

• 75% of bilingual people claim that having a second language has improved their career prospects.
• 17% would like to learn Chinese Mandarin in the New Year.
• 71% would consider online methods of language learning.

A survey of over 200 bilingual business people conducted by Rosetta Stone at the Language Show on 3-5 November in London revealed that three quarters of respondents had furthered their career prospects by speaking a second language.

The most commonly spoken languages were French (58%), Spanish (47%), German (31%) and Italian (24%). Additionally, 71% claimed that learning a second language had improved their communication skills making travel more enjoyable and half of respondents said that languages had enhanced their social lives.

Read more: Press Release

further education hit by language learning decline

The modern languages crisis is no longer confined to schools; once-popular subjects are in terminal decline in the FE sector too, college principals warned today.

Sally Dicketts, the principal of Oxford and Cherwell Valley College, told the Association of Colleges conference in Birmingham today that student numbers were dwindling as huge cuts in funding meant upfront fees had almost tripled. She said French, German and Spanish were the hardest hit, with only Mandarin managing to maintain stable student numbers. Ms Dicketts said: "Schools won't be the only ones to not have modern foreign languages, neither will colleges."

Read more: FE
Posted by Kwintessential at 6:35 PM
Categories: Language Learning News

south korea - the future of internet?

Internet futurists often like to imagine a sort of democratic digital nirvana, populated by smart, politically aware "netizens", where every home has cheap broadband and where boys in bedrooms help elect presidents.

That cyber-pipedream is closest to being realised not in Europe or the US, but in South Korea, which leads the planet in broadband access, cyber-activism and blogging. Over three-quarters of South Korean homes have an eye-watering 3Mb broadband access at home, for which they pay just £10 a month.

Read more: S. Korea
Posted by Kwintessential at 6:34 PM
Categories: Web Globalization

Polish priests preach virtues of jobs at home in bid to curb migration

The epic scale of migration from Poland has reached such extremes that priests are being encouraged to read local job ads during sermons.

More than a million Poles are estimated to have left the country since it joined the European Union in 2004 - the vast majority having come to the UK. Adam Ambroszik, an economist at the Confederation of Polish Employers, told Personnel Today: "In Poland, particularly in small villages, the priest is still an authority, and the church can reach people who have no internet and no contact with job offices or employment agencies."

Read more: Poland

British Airways worker loses appeal to wear crucifix at work

A woman prevented from wearing a crucifix while working for British Airways (BA) has lost her attempt to have the decision overturned.

Nadia Eweida, who has worked as a check-in worker at the airline for seven years, had filed a complaint after she was suspended for refusing to remove the crucifix while at work last month. Eweida claims the suspension is discriminatory, especially since the airline allows Sikh employees to wear traditional iron bangles and Muslim workers are permitted to wear head scarves.

Read more: BA
Posted by Kwintessential at 6:31 PM
Categories: Human Resources News

welsh police recruit polish officers to reflect diversity

North Wales Police are considering recruiting Polish officers after high levels of immigration from Eastern Europe to Wales.

The force is hoping to better reflect the local community and improve service levels. Deputy chief constable Clive Wolfendale said: "The Polish community in particular is growing rapidly in this area. The appointment of Polish officers is only one of a number of suggestions under consideration."

Read more: N. Wales
Posted by Kwintessential at 6:30 PM
Categories: Cultural Diversity

word of the day: subaltern

subaltern \suhb-OL-tuhrn; SUHB-uhl-tuhrn\, adjective:
1. Ranked or ranged below; subordinate; inferior.
2. (Chiefly British) Ranking as a junior officer; being below the rank of captain.
3. (Logic) Asserting only a part of what is asserted in a related proposition.
1. A person holding a subordinate position.
2. (Chiefly British) A commissioned military officer below the rank of captain.
3. (Logic) A subaltern proposition.

Both the old and new elites, not the subaltern underclass of workers and peasants, superimposed the fever chart of the Russian Revolution on what they assumed to have been the fever chart of the French Revolution with a view to determining the degree to which the temperature curves of the two revolutions diverged from each other. -- Arno J. Mayer, The Furies

The letters are never those of a groveling subaltern to his superior; they are rather like advisories from one soldier to another. -- Christina Vella, Intimate Enemies

Posted by Kwintessential at 6:25 PM
Categories: Expand Your Vocabulary

Monday, November 20, 2006

cross-cultural exposure: you are never too young

You're never too young to start understanding other customs, traditions and cultures. That's the philosophy in Oldham where, for the past six years, the Oldham Schools Linking Project has enabled primary schools with significantly different ethnic intakes to work together and, hopefully, break down some of the barriers between the town's ethnic communities. It started with six primary schools in the borough and now involves more than 50.

Activities have ranged from the specifically religious - visits to mosques and churches - to joint drama, art and music projects. Schools have held shared assemblies and children have been encouraged to write to pupils at other schools by email. The work has extended beyond the school into community projects.

Read more: UK
Posted by Kwintessential at 6:51 PM
Categories: Cross Cultural News

scandinavian diversity report

In this report we analyze board diversity and its impact on corporate performance. We investigate the 500 largest companies from Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. This report reveals that Scandinavian boards are surprisingly homogenous in terms of gender and nationality, whereas the age distribution is more diverse. The low level of board diversity in terms of gender and nationality in the Scandinavian countries seems puzzling given the participation of women in the workforce and the internationalization of the work force of Nordic firms.

Read more: Report

new yorkers lost in translation

Immigrants are a growing part of the workforce in communities all over New York State, yet the state-run English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program has not come close to keeping pace with demand for its services, according to a new report from the Center for an Urban Future.

The report, titled “Lost In Translation,�? finds that more than 1.6 million New Yorkers have limited English skills but state-run ESOL programs enrolled just 86,433 adults last year, serving only 5.3 percent of those in need. Even though the state’s foreign-born population has grown by nearly 1.3 million since 1990, the report points out that adult ESOL programs administered through the State Department of Education added only 15,000 new seats over the same period. New York City was home to 1.2 million adults with limited English skills in 2005, but just 41,585 residents were enrolled in state-funded programs that year.

Read more: NYC

word of the day: exacerbate

exacerbate \ig-ZAS-ur-bayt\, transitive verb:
To render more severe, violent, or bitter; to irritate; to aggravate; to make worse.

To reduce the stress that exacerbates my stuttering, I have meditated, done deep-breathing exercises, and floated under a condition of sensory deprivation in a dark, enclosed isolation tank. -- Marty Jezer, Stuttering: A Life Bound Up in Words

By the 1920s a stubborn agricultural depression . . . badly exacerbated the problems of the countryside. -- David M. Kennedy, Freedom From Fear

Posted by Kwintessential at 6:25 PM
Categories: Expand Your Vocabulary

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