As a trainer for Business English classes I often find myself having interesting conversations with the students on various topics other than the English language itself. Teaching Business English has double advantages, which are sharing our language inquisition methods and also learning sound knowledge of business using the students as resources. When I started teaching business classes I would sometimes become nervous because of lack of reference on topics to provide. However as we progressed we then realized that our task is not to feed them with knowledge; instead we should extract them from the students’ minds. By doing so they are unconsciously practicing speaking and gaining more confidence with their own fresh ideas.
In the past few weeks we have come to an interesting topic through one of the units in the ‘First Insights to Business’ book, that is ‘Troubleshooting’. The first task in the unit is to assess the past state of a fashion model agency that had not gained profit due to mismanagement. Then entered Jonathan Phang, a brilliant Managing Director who took the risk by hiring, if not hijacking, fresh models from other agencies. When we finally read that his maneuvers were successful, we were asked to look at the key facts and performed a SWOT Analysis on them. Now what is it all about?!
Definition & Application
The term ‘SWOT Analysis‘ is credited to Albert Humphrey, an American business & management consultant who conducted a series of convention in Stanford University in the 60’s and 70’s and defined the SOFT Analysis which eventually became SWOT Analysis. In short, SWOT Analysis is a strategic planning method that is often involved in ventures to assess the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Prior to conducting such analysis, it is essential that we focus on clear objectives of the ventures and identify internal and external factors to achieve such objectives. Let’s take a brief look at each point:
Talking about inherent characteristics that a venture already has.
Talking about undesirable conditions that hamper progress.
Talking about external chances that the venture may pursue to achieve its objectives.
Talking about external elements that may harm our environment.
When the class was exposed to a series of statements and asked to identify which factors that such statements belong to, some disagreeing perspectives arose and thus became evident that we could not come to a general conclusion as to what statement belonged to which point; they all depended of everyone’s point of view on the matter and no best answer could be singled out. At the end it was the original objective that served as indicator of accomplishment and the rigorous process of the analysis would be disregarded.
Although originally created by Albert Humphrey and was used as a tool for management, the application of this method may extend to various non-business contexts such as psychology and pedagogy. So after we were done analyzing Jonathan Phang, I introduced a new topic: “How do you find your level of English after a few months of learning in our Business English class?”
Disagreements soon made its way to the front as some learning aspects were discussed. Grammar, for example, was viewed as a weakness by many students except one who saw it as an opportunity to breakdown the pattern. I would like to summarize some of the key points below:
Confidence (they could speak freely), Listening (the materials were very much helpful), New Vocabularies (acquired through activities), Friendly and Open-Minded Environment (because of several topics that prompted them to share ideas).
Confidence (afraid of making mistakes), Listening (too fast and difficult to understand certain accents), Grammar (confusing structure and meaning).
To speak English among themselves outside the classroom and through social networks, to watch comedy films.
Work schedule not permitting.
Toward the end of the session the disagreements continued and prompted me to stop the discussion. However when asked whether they felt they have progressed overall, all of them nodded their heads of approval and admitted that although some achievements still required extra efforts, they have, in fact, moved forward a few steps. That final conclusion brought smiles. 😀
Have you ever performed a SWOT Analysis? On what occasion? Share your thoughts, please.
Further reading: SWOT Analysis by Wikipedia.
Images: real-timeupdates.com, info-analisisswot.blogspot.com