English language is a global language acts as a “lingua franca” which a common language that enables people from different backgrounds and ethnicities to communicate. Thus, the appearance of English language as the international language for global business had effects in many workplaces across Asia. In Malaysia, the role of English language is important for communication between people especially in higher institutions and businesses. As English is the second language in Malaysia, the focus is on producing learners with the ability to communicate effectively in different social and professional contexts. However, many Malaysians have difficulty communicating in English in the workplace, especially when it comes to business-related matters. As an experience person in working field, i am totally agreed with the statement. Therefore, this report will focus on some issues and possible causes of the issues. In addition, some example and explanations of actual situation will prove the issues and the solution will be discussed at the end of this report.
English communication skills are important in the management sector as stated in different job advertisements. Mastery of English oral communication skills is an advantage to employees in their workplaces. Malaysian employers have drawn attention to the disagreement between graduates’ English competency based on their English language examination scores in SPM, MUET or university language courses and their actual performance during job interviews. Typically, an excellent score in SPM or MUET English does not explain into an excellent performance in English during the employment. This situation not only incompatibility with the standards applied by universities and industries, but also the lack of a valid method to measure graduates’ English potential. Thus, the issue of many unemployed graduates of Malaysian higher education institutions have invited many deep discussions in print and electronic media. (A. Kadir, 2005)
Difficulty communicating in English in the workplace issue is not only applied in oral communication; it is applied to both oral and written communication. Written communication should be clear and purposeful with correct words, to avoid any misinterpretation of a message. It provides a permanent record for future use and it also gives an opportunity to employees to put up their comments or suggestions in writing. Poor writing skills lead to low quality of reports and work presentation in form of written task. But the issues here, too many employee failed to write a good report with comprehension and conception of ideas, composition, language accuracy, vocabulary and lack of time.
When it comes to the native causes of poor English written communication, individuals need to analyze the whole situation. There are a few other causes of poor writen communication in the workplace. The major cause in having problem writing in English is lack of education and knowladge about English Language. Knowledge is power, and without the proper education workes will not be able to move forward in their career. Although most of the employees were hired with good English examination result, it does not mean that the employee will be good in writing English report in their career. The employee should know how to use grammar and vocabulary effectively in their writing.
In order to have better English writing, extra courses on how to have better communication might help in producing good writing. Some training can be very effective as well, where the employee can work on improving her communication skills without worrying about making mistakes in front of clients or co-employee. If there are no opportunities to improve English skills, the employee can become slow in her communication skills. It's important to provide opportunities for English communication improvement, such as workshops or an English coach. Some trainning might help wokers to be more confident in producing a good and efective reports and presentation for the clients.
However, some of these problems occur by reflecting on the company and employer itself. By refering at The Murphy’s Law, anything that can go wrong will go wrong. If the manager and executive level staff have poor English communication, then chances the employee will also suffer from poor English Language communication is higher. Bad managers do not allow their employees to communicate in English Language effectively in the workplace because the managers also having problem in communicate in English. They would rather try to control or manage all the small parts of their employees rather than the other employee sees their weakness. Thus, employee not motivated to expand their English communication skills in the workplace.
Another cause that makes the employee difficult in speaking English especially in business matter is that the environment does not support the employee to speak English frequently. The environment here means the people outside the workplace. Those people may think that the employee just want to show off when they speak English for daily conversation. An employee also feels they will be judged or made fun of not using grammatically correct English, or if they will be judge for imperfect written reports, there may be a breakdown in communication. The response form surround people makes them loose their self-confidence to improve their speaking. Since the employee do not want to be rejected by the people around them, they maintain use their native language in daily conversation. Thus, the worker is having lack of opportunity to speak in English which makes the worker unable to communicate in English fluently when having conversation with client.
Bad English communicating skills somehow will leads to bad English writing skill. As a result, employee may have problems to communicate effectively with client either in writing or oral communication using English Language. However, if an employee is surrounded by concerned co-workers who help the employee through her English communication difficulties, it can increase the chances of effective English communication. But if an employee feels she is in an unsupportive work environment, she may down emotionally and begin to look for other job opportunities. Having a different group of employees is important, yet providing a sense of connection to employees through an informal work as a family is also very important. To be able to effectively work on improving English skills, the employee should feel comfortable in her work environment and not be afraid of making a mistake in front of co-employee.
Employees who use English as their second language are having fear of mispronunciation or misinterpretation of their communications especially when it comes to business-related matters. Several situations happen while having a business conversation such as lack of understanding of the question asked, which required a lot of repetitions form the client. The conversation might become akward and take times to deliverd the information especially when having long pause during conversation because of low fluency and low confidence and nervous in using English Language. Therefore, the client might have less confidence towards the employee credibility to join venture in working together.
Some situation usually happened in the conversation that requires the employee to make deals or discussion with client who using English as their native language. For instance, a graphic designer should have good knowladge and skill in English because sometimes they must deal with customer who natively communicates in English. Mispronunciation or misinterpretation in communication while dealing with customer can leads to unproductive work such as wasting time in designing the wrong idea. Each of every design terms such as “resolution” and “header” should be clearly present and pronounce to the customer to avoid misinterpretation.
On the other hand, English language also needs for engineers which can be studied and analyses from engineers’ involvement in communicative events in engineering. Engineers need to use English language in order to execute their workplace responsibilities. For instance, Kassim and Ali (2010) distributed questionnaires to engineers working in 10 Malaysian multinational companies to investigate the types of communicative events where engineers need to have which English oral communication skills. As the result, events such as formal discussion of work related matters, teleconferencing, giving oral presentations, networking, instructing, explaining and demonstrating were mostly using English Language. Most of these communicative events, the engineers will need to sell ideas and to convince another person of their own ideas using Englis Language.
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