Monday, November 9, 2009

Final Reflection: Adieu ES2007S

It is the final weeks before semester officially ends. As much as I look forward to the end of semester, I do regret that the module ES2007S is also coming to a completion. Recently, as I was scanning through the guidelines to complete my Ecology lab reports, part of it mentioned “executive summary”. I was excited to see it! I have come across it during the course of the module; so, it made me happy that I know what it was all about. Taking this module has provided me with useful knowledge and skills for future use.

What made me choose to do this module is the idea that I would be able to learn things that were never taught in schools before. Things like, writing a resume, going for interviews, conducting presentations. Even though I have experienced them, I never actually had formal education on them.  I had the impression that students who were gifted with eloquence or highly confident by nature also have good communicative skills. However, after going through this module, I feel that everybody can be a good communicator. They just need to observe and practice the right methods in order to do so. So, even if a person is introverted by nature, it does not mean that he will have lower chances of acing an interview or presentation.

The skills that I have learned from this module will definitely help me in the near future. I like that I have had hands-on practice on writing a resume, cover letter, personal statement. With these skills, I now know what is expected when I have to apply for a job or internship. Other skills like proposal writing will very much be useful when I have to write my own for an event that I might partake in as organizers. Indirectly, learning these has influenced me to want to improve on my writing style, to polish my vocabulary and work on my command of English. I feel it is important to have a good mastery of the language aside from the skills to be able to communicate effectively.

On top of those skills, I am now able to practice some of the soft skills we have learnt. What is funny about this is that I find myself observing how others express themselves when they communicate. This is the outcome of understanding the fundamentals of body language and its relevance in communication. I am more sensitive in the way I express myself, to avoid any miscommunications and misunderstandings. I am also able to tolerate the way other people behave and communicate and this helps to improve relationships, both professional and personal.

In all, I am satisfied to have made an effort to complete this module. The knowledge and skills that I have gained are not something that I learn for the sake of learning, but are also feasible and applicable in real life. I hope to put them to great use.

I appreciate my classmates, my teammate Huiling and Christine for an enjoyable learning adventure for this course (:  

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Reflections on my ORAL PRESENTATION

My Oral Presentation

Last Thursday, my team-mate Huiling and I took our turn for oral presentation.  To rate our overall presentation, I feel that we have performed to our expectations. However, I do believe there are some aspects of the presentation that I could improve on.

Some things that went well for my presentation:

Generally, I felt that my delivery went well. I managed to convey my ideas eloquently most of the time. I made an attempt to be fluent and to speak clearly and slowly. I made eye contact with the audience for the most part and did not have to depend on my cue cards, although they did come in handy once in a while. During Q & A, I felt that I have handled the questions well, with an indication that my group has put some thought into our proposal.
Even so, I had problems using the wireless pointer. I think at one point during the presentation, it looked as though I was incompetent in using something that should have made things more convenient. I can only blame, not the gadget, but myself for not spending enough time rehearsing my presentation with it. Practising at home in front of the laptop is certainly not the same as the real thing. It affected my performance after that, although I hope that I managed to handle the blip professionally and calmly. It would have made matters worse if I had not. It might reflect that I was more nervous than I should have been.

Other than technical difficulties, I felt that I could have had more time to settle my nerves. Unfortunately, we came just in time for our presentation and I could not sufficiently prepare myself mentally for the presentation. This could have been avoided if I had come earlier to allow some buffer time to gather my thoughts and put myself together. Also I think a good night’s rest is essential. Without proper rest, I felt that my delivery lacked energy which could have livened up the presentation a bit more so that I can capture my audience’s attention.

In terms of slide ware, I think our presentation could have been more pleasing to the eye with the inclusion of videos and pictures. Nonetheless, we hoped to achieve a more professional look to our presentation and so, we refrained from using cartoon pictures to supplement our slides.

Overall, I think we manage to keep our presentation short and to the point without beating about the bush so much. We certainly tried to improve on our delivery methods from the feedback we received the last time we conducted our peer teaching lectures. As much as we regret some of the things we have made, we can only learn from them and hope that our effort pays off.

intercultural conflict

Could this be an example of intercultural conflict? Inspired by true events…

Setting: Departmental store located somewhere in town.

Event: The store was having a one-day offer for a branded electrical appliance

The incident took place in a series of events that run like this:

The store sales promoter is conducting a demonstration on how to use the appliance. The store has a system; only those who have proof of purchase will be allowed to view the demonstration.

Everything seems like it was going well: the sales promoter looked presentable, confident, all prepared to start conducting the demonstration. When he started, he used his mother tongue to explain how to work the machine. What is wrong with this picture? Well, the crowd consisted of a fair proportion of people who clearly do not speak his tongue, even though majority of them could. (This is a common sight, since in town, a lot of people who come to the store are made up of foreigners who are Caucasian)  A few of them were patient in tolerating the sales promoter, thinking that he will switch to a different mode of language to cater to those who do not understand him earlier. As he continued, however, I could see many people showing signs of impatience and uneasiness (this obvious when you can see them folding their arms in front of them, whispering to their friends, or shaking their heads in unison as a sign of disapproval).

From what I can tell, one of the customers in the crowd passed a comment about how insensitive the sales promoter was; since he did not consider the other customers. And this comment was heard and picked up by one of the cashiers, who, was standing nearby. He went up to the sales promoter and told him to conduct the demonstration in English instead, since there were other people there who did not understand him, but still wanted to be informed.  He took up the request and continued his demonstration in English.

Since the departmental store was located in town, it is common to see a mixture of races and nationalities in the customers who purchase things at the store. The fact that the sales promoter did not use English during his presentation may have given a wrong impression. He could pass of as being unethical, and his service was therefore seen as poor. In my point of view, he was being culturally insensitive and his actions were inexcusable. Firstly, he should have been aware that he was working in an environment where there were many foreigners and locals who do not speak his tongue. Secondly, it was clear that he could speak English well, so it is inexcusable to suggest that he could not converse well in English and thus had to resort to using his own mother tongue. There was no language barrier to begin with, he should have adopted the use of English from the start, that is more appropriate, ethical and professional.

His insensitivity and negligence could have offended many people who came to view his demonstration that day. They felt discriminated against and even though this sales promoter could be the best in the business, this misunderstanding could have tarnished his reputation. What is worse, he could have given the impression that the company he works for did not give him adequate training in this field. Representing the department store, the customers could very well reason the poor quality of service that he portrayed.

Could this be viewed as an intercultural conflict? Was it in the way he communicated his ideas? What about body language? What could have been better about this picture?