Translating “Ja sure, you betcha” for NonNative English Speakers Thomas C. Gjersvig Caryn E. Lindsay Kearney International Center Minnesota State University, Mankato With thanks to • Gary Althen, author of American Ways: A Guide for Foreigners in the United States • Claire Cardwell & Lee Seedorff, University of Iowa • This presentation will be available at: • http://www.mnsu.edu/kearneyic/faculty/ Introductions • Name • Institution • Your role at work Why is this session important? • Changing demographics of Minnesota • Student retention • Joy of learning about others Our Goal for this Session • Leave feeling more confident when you meet and interact with people from other cultures • Session Guidelines: – No right or wrong answers – Confidential 1 Obvious – 1 Invisible TWO ISSUES Obvious: Language Students sometimes: • Have poor understanding of English •Have accents and pronunciation that make it difficult for us to understand them. •Sometimes understand the words, but not the overall context English lesson Students are sometimes unfamiliar with the specific terms we use. Activity: New Employee Information Form WHAT FORMS IN YOUR OFFICE COULD BE MODIFIED TO BE MORE EASILY UNDERSTOOD? EXAMPLE FROM MANKATO 1 Obvious – 1 Invisible TWO ISSUES Invisible: Culture • • • • • • Values Beliefs Learning Styles History and historical interpretations Arts Achievements Culture Values, Beliefs, Learning Styles, History and historical interpretations, Arts, Achievements WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE MINNESOTAN? Educational Culture & Assumptions • U.S.: It is efficient and effective to use forms, form letters, and written information sheets to carry out routine procedures, and being efficient and effective is desirable. • International: If I’m asked to fill out a form, nothing is likely to happen. Educational Culture & Assumptions • U.S.: My institution’s rules, procedures, and requirements are reasonably related to the achievement of its purposes, and are generally fair and logical. • International: “Facts” and “truths” are relative, and besides, what matters most are people’s feelings. I need to gain the human sympathy of staff members who have something I want. They should take the time to talk with me. Educational Culture & Assumptions • U.S.: I got my job as a result of demonstrating my competence. • International: Younger people and females are not entrusted with significant decision-making responsibility. I have to see the boss, who is nearly always a male. Summary • Interacting across cultures is challenging (even when you’ve been doing it all your life!) – Obvious differences: Language – Invisible differences: Culture • Being aware of the differences and your own culture is the first step to make our campuses more welcoming! THANK YOU!