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BC TEAL Conference Keynote Address 24 May 2014

Teaching Immigrants the Soft Skills They


Need to Succeed in Canada Through EAL
Courses
BC TEAL Conference 24 May 2014

Lionel Laroche, Ph.D., P.Eng.


lionel@mcbsol.com

Technical Skills and Soft Skills

Technical Skills Candidate Relative Weights


A
Newcomers
Countries of Origin
High TS: 90%
SS: 10%

Medium

Candidate
Relative Weights
B Canada
TS: 50%
Low
SS: 50%

Soft Skills
Low Medium High

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BC TEAL Conference Keynote Address 24 May 2014

Key Messages

To succeed in Canada, immigrants need to learn good


soft skills by Canadian standards
EAL courses are the perfect medium for this, since most
immigrants know they need to speak English well

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Cultural Differences

Dress code, Org chart, Office layout, Presentations

Being on time
Men women relationships in the workplace
Importance of technical and soft skills
Communication verbal and non-verbal
Performance management, feedback
Hierarchy, manager-employee relationship
Problem solving & decision making
Teamwork and many more....

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BC TEAL Conference Keynote Address 24 May 2014

Generalizations vs. Stereotypes

Generalizations Stereotypes
Based on observation Based on assumption
Provide general characteristics Present a fixed and inflexible
based on cultural and social factors image of a group

Inform rather than prescribe Are judgmental and negative


Recognize individual differences Ignore individual exceptions
E.g. I know that time is more flexible in E.g. Mexicans are always late, so I will
Mexico than in Canada. I will use this give my Mexican colleagues
knowledge to inform my observation of appointments 30 minutes before my
my Mexican colleagues use of time. target.

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Hierarchy and Work Relationships


100
Source: Culture and Organizations Software for the Mind, by G. Hofstede and G.J. Hofstede, 2004
90

80

70

60

50

40

30

20

10

0
Norway Canada USA France India Venezuela China Russia
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BC TEAL Conference Keynote Address 24 May 2014

Social Status of Professionals

Starting salary
GDP / capita
of professionals

Canada $45K/year $45-80K/year

India $1K/year $10-15K/year

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Social Status of Professionals

India
Canada

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BC TEAL Conference Keynote Address 24 May 2014

Generalist vs. Specialist

Vertical Depth (Specialization)


Horizontal Breadth (Generalization)

Immigrants tend to
describe their
experience and Canada is a country of
knowledge in broad specialists. Employers
terms. are looking for
specialized knowledge
and in-depth experience.

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Who Should Adapt to Whom?

80% 20%
Newcomers Canadians

80% 20%

Newcomers Canadians

Newcomers need to
Canadians need
learn the unwritten
to explain these
rules of Canadian
rules and give
organizations and
feedback
follow them
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BC TEAL Conference Keynote Address 24 May 2014

Cross-cultural Challenges

Waiting in line
What does being on time mean?
When do I shake hands with people?
How do I interact with someone I consider below me?
What does taking initiative mean in Canada?
How do I describe my experience?
Who pays for coffee?
How often do I go for lunch with my colleagues?
Who do I network with?
How do I network with these people?
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