Redefining Career Skills, A 5-Day Webinar Series

Covid-19 has redefined the way we teach and learn. In fact, we have come to know how effectively we can make use of technology to engage our students. ‘Redefining Career Skills’ is an attempt to evaluate the changing perspectives. This is a collaborative event organised by the Department of English, Sri Ramakrishna College of Arts & Science for Women, Coimbatore in association with The Dawn Journal.

DAY 1: Covid-19 Crisis and Employability Challenges for Freshers | Mr Rajesh Bojan, Founder & Editor-in-Chief, The Dawn Journal

Dr. Anandhi M, Head & Associate Professor of English, Sri Ramakrishna College of Arts & Science for Women welcomed the audience and introduced the speaker, Mr Rajesh Bojan, Assistant Professor and Senior Verbal Trainer at Sri Shakthi Institute of Engineering and Technology, Coimbatore.

Mr Rajesh started by presenting an insight on the impact of Covid-19 on various fields. He highlighted on different surveys of various reputed organisations showing the devastating effects of coronavirus on the employment sectors. He went on to explain about how students or employees need to prepare for equipping themselves to face the challenges. He stressed on the importance of making learning a habit and the need for students to be aware of the evolving industry and understand the raising requirements. He emphasized on the fact that employers judge their employees based on what they contribute for organisational growth.

When most employers are merely trying to run the show, employee happiness and productivity has become a question. It is important for freshers to prove their quality and potential. He suggested that everyone must learn to nurture creativity and productivity. The ultimate objective for an employee is to ensure that he or she will become the asset of the organisation in the long run.

According to the speaker, in order to maximise job conversion, it is important for students to always be aware of current openings, have sufficient knowledge about organisations they are applying for. They must know how to stay ahead of others and develop required expertise in their respective domain and related technology. Of all these, they need to show their uniqueness and create few notable contributions in their field of interest.

Mr Rajesh also suggested that both students and employees have to socialise, learn to collaborate and evolve. Students need to be trained to take part in healthy competitions and must be encouraged to opt for multiple employment opportunities like campus recruitment, banking and civil services examination. Besides, he suggested the participants to focus on prioritise their short and long term career needs.

According to him, it is vital to learn to deal with negativity and he suggested few measures. He advised the students to stop seeking for comfortable jobs and instead asked them to opt for challenging roles that would test their skills and make them strong. He spoke on the importance of managing stress appropriately. He recommended techniques to identify one’s progressive traits and workplace efficiency score.

DAY 2 SESSION I: Fluency Matters | Dr Arun Behera, Associate Professor of English at Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning

In the second day of our session, Mr Rajesh welcomed the speakers and the participants. Dr. Anandhi M introduced the speakers and moderated the session. Dr Arun Behera, Associate Professor of English at Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning and Dr Abhilash Nayak, Regional Director of IGNOU Regional Centre, Patna were the resource persons.

Dr Arun Behera gave an impressive lecture on the topic Fluency Matters. Fluency is defined as “being able to speak and write quickly or easily in a given language”. It comes from the Latin word fluentem meaning “to flow”. Fluency in a language means speaking easily, reasonably quickly and without having to stop and pause a lot. He went on to explain about the types and various components. He listed the four types of fluency as Reading, Speaking, Oral reading and Written.

He further stated that Fluency of speech has five components namely:

  • Pronunciation (articulation, rhythm, intonation; gesture, body language and eye contact)
  • Grammar (appropriate sentences based on the context; avoid miscommunication)
  • Vocabulary (single words, compound words and idioms)
  • Fluency (speak communicatively, fluently and accurately; express freely without interruption)
  • Comprehension (understand what to in the context; make the listeners easily to catch the information)

Strategy for Fluency:

  • Provide your students with many opportunities to read aloud the same passage orally several times
  • Know what your students have to read aloud so that they are aware of your expectations
  • Know how your students can read aloud repeatedly so that their fluency improves

He provided several tips on effective communication.

5 Speaking Rules you need to know!

  • Don’t study grammar too much
  • Learn and study phrases
  • Practice speaking what you hear
  • Submerge yourself
  • Study correct material

7 tips to fluent speaking

  • Set a goal and create a learning strategy
  • Learn english every day
  • Surround yourself in english
  • Use powerful learning methods  to improve quickly
  • Start using the lrrc (listen, repeat, record, compare) method today
  • Get speaking practice
  • Learn the 80/20 rule (or the pareto principle in language learning means that 20% of the things you learn contribute 80% of your total improvement)

80/20 Rule (the Pareto Rule)

Find your 20% by:

  • Creating a list of most frequent words
  • Making your goals short term
  • Educating yourself
  • Looking at past experiences
  • Optimising your study habits
  • Facing your fears
  • Being honest with yourself
  • Thinking practically

DAY 2 : SESSION II: Communicate to Conquer | Dr Abhilash Nayak, Regional Director, IGNOU Regional Centre, Patna

Communication is the soul of life, the life force behind any successful individual or organization. Some people become heroes because they are good leaders. They are good leaders because they are good communicators. Irrespective of the background, experience and qualifications a person cannot achieve anything in life if s/he has no command over communication skills. As social animals, we human beings possess an inherent desire to remain connected to members inside our communities, despite the versatility in our values and vocations. At each and every stage in life, we are required to communicate with a large number of people with various backgrounds, abilities and experiences. Unless we handle these communicative contexts efficiently with goof communication skills, we tend to lag behind people who are able and efficient communicators.

The word communication is derived from the Latin word communicare meaning ‘impart, to participate, to share’. Hence it the process of sharing or putting across a message, either an idea, a feeling or an attitude, from one/more individual/groups to one/more individual(s)/group(s).  Communication is mainly driven by an awareness of “Purpose” and “Audience. Usually We have the following purposes while communicating: (a) interact (b) inform (c) instruct (d) influence (e) motivate (f) entertain (g) record (h) find out (i) regulate. We should be careful in choosing a topic before we decide to speak or write on it, respect the real or the imaginary audience and anticipate questions, responses, reactions so that we become successful in communicating our ideas to the audience. While talking to an audience we should maintain direct contact with the audience, take feedback from them from time to time and ensure effective communication. As sensible speakers, we should be able to judge whether the audience is in the right mood to receive the message that we are trying to send across. If some of the members in the audience are not in the right mood to listen to what we are trying to say, they will create all possible problems to stop us from putting across our ideas. We should ensure that all barriers are removed before we start the act of communication. If there is constant noise coming from outside, the fans keep making loud noise or the doors bang often on their own, we are likely to be distracted time and again. Hence, we  should see that all barriers are  removed in the best possible ways to keep the audience ready to receive the message.

Whatever is the purpose of communication, it should always be positive. To communicate means to connect, to bridge the gaps between people in a community, society or organization. The main aim of every act of communication should be positive, even if it involves the transmission of negative, painful and unpleasant messages. The painful and unpleasant messages can also be presented in innovative ways to reduce their negative impact upon the receiver. Apart from this, the language we use inside our homes, in the social circles and offices should be free from all biases.  We should carefully choose our words while speaking to people of different caste, class, gender, religion so that no one is hurt by what we say. We should avoid vocabulary which has the potential to hurt the sentiments of people belonging to a particular class or category.

Usually by communication, we mean spoken communication, that too in English. But real communication involves effective use of all the language skills, both the receptive language skills and the productive language skills in any language. Unless we are efficient readers and good listeners, we cannot become good writers and speakers. A good writer should read a good number of books, critically observe the use of words, phrases and sentences, observe the ways language is used to express thoughts, ideas and feelings and use them in his writing in the most productive and efficient ways. Likewise,  if you want to be a  good speaker, you  should actively  listen to varieties of listening texts which could include movies in the target language, interviews with great people, panel discussions, speeches  delivered by good speakers, carefully watch their use of the vocabulary and sentences, change of pitch and intonation,  observe their body language and emulate them in  your everyday communication. Moreover, you should make use of English or the language of your choice in everyday communication without bothering about grammatical errors or accuracy in pronunciation. If you think of the grammatical rules or accuracy of pronunciation, you may get scared and refrain from making any attempts. Even if you come forward to speak, your over consciousness of these things will pull you back, you will fumble and make mistakes. This failure in the first attempt will demotivate you and you will try our best to keep yourself away from such attempts in future. We should remember that we learnt our mother tongue in a very natural way, by observing the people around us making the use of language in different situations in response to various communicative needs.  We made mistakes time and again, people often laughed at us but that did not deter us from learning the language. Now in course of time we have become masters in the use our mother tongue. The same can happen with English as well. The only thing is that we should dare to practice it whenever and wherever we can. In order to enhance your confidence as well communication skills, you can make small videos of 5 to 10 minutes on topics of your choice, show it to people whom you trust, take their honest feedback and improve upon your performance. In course of time you will grow into an effective user of the language. You can do the same with written communication skills. You cannot swim in an ocean unless you start practicing swimming in a pond. All great speakers and authors were not born great, they spoke to varieties of audiences, made many experiments and mistakes until they grew into famous orators or writers.

Besides verbal skills, we should take care of the non-verbal communication skills like eye contact, gestures, postures, personal appearance, facial expression, space distancing, time, silence, artifact and environment to be effective communicators. We should know that 65% of our everyday communication consists of non-verbal communication. It is not only important if we can speak well or write well, we should be able to exhibit the right kind of behaviour in different communicative contexts.  Many of the young people aspiring for jobs fail miserably due to lack of appropriate communication skills. If you want to conquer the world, you should master your communication skills. You should be able use language to meet all the communicative needs of your personal and professional life.

DAY 3: Improving Interpersonal Communication | Dr Sankarakumar, Assistant Professor of English, PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore

DAY 4: Investing in Language Skills for Career Advancements | Dr Anandhi M, Professor & Head, Department of English, Sri Ramakrishna College of Arts and Science for Women, Coimbatore

As English is the global language investing in it can certainly help anyone get ahead in their career, making an effort to master the global lingua franca can be actually a stepping stone to make the leap in your career. Individuals who have a perfect mastery over their language skills have ample chances of promotions and in business it helps to expand their territories.

Language skills quite literally opens the doors for new opportunities, thereby helping you to comprehend the global market place better as well as understanding the wants and needs of international customers, suppliers and partners.On an International level, research surveys shows that countries where a high proportion of workforce speaks english, have a higher proportion of their GDP from international trade.When it comes to the wages we also see that it is directly proportional to the employees’ language ability.

Language skills are coveted by employers looking to build a competitive business and are sought after when interviewing for the next step in your career.Everything comes down to effective communication. Proficiency in a second language makes networking more effective, allows you to make the most of opportunities and begin potentially profitable conversations.

As we move up the executive ladder, the importance of communication skills become even more pronounced. Improving English skills would thus be particularly important for someone managing a team of people who may well speak better English than they do. As a report shows, a high level of English proficiency correlates with higher GDP, higher average income and innovation on the national level. It goes without saying that, countries with stronger language skills – particularly in English – are stronger and more globally connected. Thus it becomes increasingly important to work on language skills as strong language skills coupled with communication will help one advance in their career.

DAY 5: Innovation in ELT | Dr K Venkat Reddy, Professor & Head of Training & Development of The English Foreign Languages University

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