Learning a Language in the 21st Century

Novotarska Svitlana
(M. Ed., Dip. Bus.)

Статтю присвячено питанням навчання мови професійного спрямування, розглянуто основні традиційні підходи до вивчення мови, описано їх переваги та недоліки, а також запропоновано огляд нових методів до вивчення спеціалізованої мови.

Ключові слова: мова професійного спрямування, ділова комуннікація, когнітивний підхід, мотивація, інтернет.

 Статья посвящена вопросам изучения професиональногоанглийского, изложены основные традиционные подходы, а также описаны современные методики изучения языка деловой комуникации.

Ключевыпе слова: язык деловой комуникации, когнитивныйподход, мотивация,интернет.

 The article deals with teaching of language for specific purposes (LSP), it studies main traditional approaches to Business English teaching and suggests new modern methods to LSP teaching.

Keywords: Business English, ESL, global, online, cognitive method, motivation.


“Education is the most powerful weapon
which you can use to change the world.”
Nelson Mandela


21st century came with its innovations, economic crises, new world conflicts and thus the increased realisation of the power of communication. It has seen the departure from this world of some of the most influential 20th century public people. One of them, Mr. Mandela has inspired and empowered several generations of this planet through his power of both words and deeds. In the context of learning a language his words can be interpreted as in creating a positive change, it needs to be communicated first, in order to create followers. Business English as a global language has proved its effectiveness through easier direct access to the information without distortion, working in the multinational companies, and enhanced research of the professional journals and other resources available online. The purpose of this research is to investigate Business English learning of the senior tertiary students in the context of preparing for their future profession in the globally changing environment.
Business English
and Changing Job Requirements
According to The Guardian, at the moment the focus is not so much on fluency, which, in a way, is restrictive because not every student can reach it, but on functionality, which is utterly liberating. Functionality of one’s Business English is directly connected to its practical implication (Schmitt 2013). Focus on functionality permits students to envisage a vector from the core competencies they need to develop today in order to be ready for the jobs of tomorrow. The dynamics of the 21st century is swift. For instance, the top ten most popular 2010 jobs did not exist at all in 2004. Shift happens right here and right now. As Business English teachers, we need to prepare students for occupations which do not exist yet, where they will be using technology not yet invented, with the aim to solve problems of the future no one can imagine yet (Did You Know 3.0 – Shift Happens 2011).
Ability to communicate effectively across the borders will be essential to these jobs on the par with technical skills. Multinational corporations and outsourcing are already made their way to Ukraine. Employers came to realize that Ukraine is a vast market of skills on offer. The reality of tomorrow is work in virtual teams, online and distant jobs and a rapid adaptation to change skills. Students need to be prepared for the life-long process of learning and self-education, using the acquired in their university classroom study skills.
The magazine Forbes singled out 12 Skills needed for success in 2013. With the political and economical unrest in Ukraine, changes in the job market and apprehension about the future these skills will be relevant the current year, too.
1. Technical skills are still on the first place. However, even Java-writers need to communicate.
2. Data skills. Both left-brained specialists are needed for creating data and right-brained ones for interpreting it.
3. Establishing effective professional networks. Nobody can doubt that Business and Conversational English is a key here.
4. Personal outsourcing skills. Everyone can be one’s own Human Resources Manager. LinkedIn, personal blogs and websites offer free access to the potential employers who are on the other side of the screen mean a cost-effective method to reach the dream job.
5. Continuous learning skills. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), Open Universities and other resources are offered online free of charge. This enables students to tailor their education to their needs and enhance their knowledge and thus employment competitiveness.
6. Continuous improvement skills. Sustainability in natural resources management, running a country’s economy and managing one’s own career are the key words of the 21st century. Kaizen and lean management philosophy is a desirable awareness.
7. Global perspective. Business competitors are another side of the planet. Customers can be there as well. Business English skills are essential to connect them.
8. Online “branding”. To find out information about a person, traditional CV is not enough. Professional blogs, membership, discussion forums can tell a lot about the calibre of a person. A fast reaction to the”virtual” surroundings is assured by the excellent Business English.
9. Entrepreneurial skills, with the motto “Profit, Planet, and People”, bring the holistic social perspective into businesses.
10. Agility requires an ability to quickly adopt to change and assess the situation.
11. Communications skills. There is no limit to perfection. From drafting a business plan or grant or proposal to delivering an inspirational speech, Business English is means widened research field and excellent writing and speaking, if not fluent, than, certainly, functional.
12. Optimism. The skills to transform negatives in to positives, skim information for successful solutions, even while working in the native language environment, wealth of global information, often in English, is at ones’ fingertips. (McKendrick 2013).
Second Language Acquisition:
Traditional and Innovative Methods
So, the world is changing. Should teaching English in the tertiary environment remain the same? A traditional theoretical approach to learning and teaching a language comprises a joint process of two or more people in the collaborative environment. This approach is strongly supported by such theoretical perspectives as cognition, motivation, and social cohesion. As far as cognition goes, it is a socio-cultural theory, where the learning is achieved through the socialization and interaction with more knowledgeable teachers and the group. Interaction and dialogue are the key components of such process. A shared professional environment and development of the language competencies through social activities are a vital part of this approach (Cullen 2013).It is debatable whether the innovative methods of language acquisition, such as online and distance learning, MOOCs and self-education can create the same social environment as mentioned above.
The same four Business English competencies (Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing) can be enhanced with the online material as incorporated in the shared interactive activities. For example, in teaching English to Year 4 Economics university students, TED and You Tube videos on business management and globalization were used to in order to raise discussion (speaking skills), write a summary or essay on the topic (writing skills), scan relevant articles from Forbes, The Economist, The Guardian and other sources (reading skills). This has added interest and enthusiasm for learning, thus increasing motivation. Selection of the relevant to a future job or a group level of knowledge allows the differentiation of such materials.
Encouraging students to take up Distance Learning as means for further professional development in the flexible mode is another key to prepare them for future. Based on ESL theories kin relation to this mode of learning, three interaction vectors can be distinguished: Learner – Content, Learner – Instructor and Learner – Learner. If designed with the interaction in mind, Moodle and other distance courses can serve as complementary material for students. If students display interest in differentiation of Business English learning in the area of their specialisation, such as Cybernetics, distance courses can be offered and even individually tailored via Moodle and otherwise (Ariza 2003).
The most recent trend, a massive open online course (MOOC), has been adopted by the leading universities globally in 2013 . For instance, the providers like FutureLearn.com and Iversity.org were recommended to the students of Economics to enrich their classroom interaction, vocabulary and pronunciation based on the material prepared by the scientists and teachers from the UK universities (Baggaley 2013).

Multilingualism is becoming a valuable asset for extra business opportunities. This paper aimed to provide a brief view on the theoretical research of Business English acquisition in the21st century global environment. The conclusion is that, while theoretically, the innovative methods of teaching and classroom learning have the same basis, more evidence needed to assess the effectiveness of MOOCs.
Focus on the need for more individual work, especially in the ever-increasing rhythm of life, is demonstrated by more people using mobile devices such as iPads in the public places. It is in the interest of both teachers and learners if they happen to be doing an ESL online course, or reading the article for the consequent discussion in the classroom. Emerging technologies such as augmented reality, Google glasses, and other ones not even known to wide public as yet, it is hard to predict what an eager language learner might be anticipating in the future.
Nelson Mandela also said: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, it goes to his heart”. We need to teach to clearly to communicate and comprehend the messages that goes from “heart to heart”, to wipe the borders of understanding each other and contribute to a better, more humane world of tomorrow.

Works Cited
Ariza, Eileen, & Hancock, Sandra. Second Language Acquisition Theories as a Framework for Creating Distance Learning Courses. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 4.2. (2003). Web 14 March 2014.
Baggaley, Jon. MOOC rampant. Distance Education, 34.3.(2013) pp.368–378. Web 14 March 2014.
Cullen, Richard, Kullman, John et. al. Online collaborative learning on an ESL teacher education programme. ELT Journal. 67.4. (2013). Рp. 425-434. Web 14 March 2014. http://eltj.oxfordjournals.org.ezproxy.vccs.edu:2048/content/67/4/425.full.pdf+html
“Did You Know 3.0 – Shift Happens” [Video] You Tube, 11 May 2011. Web 14 March 2014.
McKendrick, Joe. 12 Skills that will help you thrive in 2013. Forbes Online Magazine.(2013). Web 14 March 2014.
Schmitt, Diane. UK universities failing to bridge culture gap for foreign students. Guardian Weekly. 11.11. (2013). Web 14 March 2014.

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