Academic journal article International Forum of Teaching and Studies

Know before You Go

Academic journal article International Forum of Teaching and Studies

Know before You Go

Article excerpt

What You Need to Know

With a large number of companies now off shoring and outsourcing, more training is now being delivered globally. Training programs developed in the US and delivered overseas are often met with mixed reactions by audiences overseas. This chapter will provide nsights about what to look for, what you need to know, and how to be prepared in order to have a successful training experience when you are training different cultures.

Why is a training program successful in the United States and not in Asia or Europe? This is the case because the curriculum is specifically designed for an American audience. Other countries have different values, cultures, and educational systems. The people have grown up in different educational systems. It is natural that they would react differently to our US developed content. To be effective and well received; American trainers and presenters need to adapt our content and style to their various audiences.

Doing your homework on the country and culture is imperative to your success. If you are fortunate enough to have a contact, someone who is either a native or lives and works in the country, you are way ahead of the game. S/he is your best bet for getting to know the country, culture, values, etc. Not only work with the person asking for the training, but get some names of people who will be attending the training to help you also. If there is no incountry contact, then you must do the research yourself.

I have designed and conducted soft skills training in Europe, Africa and India. This has been with corporate, college, and non-profit audiences. In Ghana I got an amazing appreciation of the warmth and hospitality of Ghanaians. In India, I was impressed with the seriousness in which people approach learning and the value they see in it. In England, I loved the way the audience would take on the instructor and use humor to push back. Having also trained audiences around the world via webcast, I enjoy the multi-cultural interaction and participation in learning. I interviewed dozens of trainers who have worked with audiences of different cultures on technical topics, leadership development, and soft skills training (which is really the hard skills!). From my experience, combined with theirs, I have listed some points to consider, when training in another country:

Design "Audience Specific" Training

Whether you design e training for an American or a foreign audience, to be successful you will still need to answer these questions:

* Who is your audience?

* What are the objectives of the training?

* What is the audience's highest level of education?

* What type of educational experiences have they had?

* Do they follow any specific learning style?

* Are they accustomed to shared learning experiences where they work as teams?

* What are acceptable ways for them to demonstrate learning or information/knowledge transfer?

* Can you establish a baseline level of current knowledge of the subject?

Training is not one size fits all! Do not plan to use your US curriculum around the world without modifications. Be prepared to build an agenda suited to the audience. Create exercises and activities that are meaningful to them. An example using the Indy 500 will be met with blank stares if the audience has never heard of it! A baseball example will be meaningful to a few, although a soccer example will have meaning for many. In India, a cricket example will work well for most audiences.

Adapt Your Methods

Be open to different training methods (role-plays, group teach-backs, lectures, etc.) Methods that work in one country may or may not be successful in another. In Africa, small group discussions and brainstorming may be effective. In India, role-playing to apply the concepts may best move the content from cognitive to skills applied in real life. In Germany and Eastern European countries you may find the audience wants straight lecture and resist group activities and other interactions. …

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