Business English: Meetings

Article excerpt

Title              Business English: Meetings

Platform           Windows 95, 98, or NT Macintosh 7.5 +

Minimum Hardware   Windows: Pentium PC; Macintosh: Power PC processor;
Requirements       16 MB RAM; 2x CD-ROM drive; Quicktime 3.x or higher;
                   SVGA monitor (Windows)

Producer           English Language Centre, University of Victoria

Distributor        Encomium Publications
                   2637 Erie Avenue Suite 203
                   Cincinnati, OH 45208 USA
                   1-800-234-4831
                   info@encomium.com
Support offered    http://www.encomium.com/

Target language    English

Target Audience    Intermediate-level business English learners

Price              $ 95.00 US

ISBN               4-900819-01-8

Reviewed by Pamela Couch, Boston University

Business English Meetings is a multimedia CD-ROM designed to introduce non-native English speakers to the language and culture of North American business meetings. Through the use of live-action video, still pictures, audio, and text, the program presents examples of effective oral and written business communication and provides opportunities for language practice.

The users follow the story of Victoria Springs Ltd., a fictional bottled water company considering a merger offer from a larger distributor. This plot unfolds in a series of video clips demonstrating the various language and cultural components of a business meeting. Each unit contains information on business vocabulary, idiomatic expressions, communication strategies, body language, and the use of documents and visual aids, as well as exercises that provide practice and test the language presented.

DESCRIPTION

Business English Meetings includes a general introduction and seven learning units: Opening a Meeting, Making a Presentation, Disagreeing, Interrupting, Persuading, Negotiating, and Closing a Meeting. Although users can start with any of these topics, the story line develops throughout the seven units; therefore, most users will find it beneficial to start with the first unit and progress in order. Each unit begins with a written overview of the meeting and a still picture that sets the scene for the video. Users can go directly to the video or click on various objects in the picture to get information on culture, functional language, visual aids, body language, and documentation. For example, in the introductory picture for Unit One, "Opening a Meeting," clicking on the water bottle brings up cultural notes on how a typical meeting agenda is organized, while clicking on the handshake calls up information on different forms of non-verbal communication often seen in business meetings.

Once the video icon is selected, users watch a three-minute scene illustrating the theme of the unit. The number of characters in the video clips varies according to the topic. For instance, Unit One, "Opening a Meeting," consists of five people, while Unit Six, "Negotiating," includes just two. The video clips are supported by text in several ways. Before the video begins, users can read about the context of the situation and a brief summary, as well as the language focus of the scene. Key vocabulary words are underlined, allowing users to click and read definitions. Once the video begins, users can read the script to the left of the video as it plays; they also have the choice of going to the glossary at any time to get a definition and hear a word pronounced in isolation.

Each unit includes three practice activities, which may be accessed at any point in the lesson. In Unit Five, for example, users can test their knowledge of "persuasion" language by filling in a crossword puzzle, doing a multiple choice listening activity, and playing a "golf game" that asks them to decide whether an expression is one of "expressing doubt" or "reassuring."

The program concludes with the final unit, "Closing a Meeting," in which Victoria Springs announces its decision on the merger proposal. …