A model of communication

    Ian McMaster
    Von Ian McMaster


    Many, many years ago, I went to the doctor’s for a regular check up. After doing various tests, he gave me some general advice, which included reducing sugar consumption as much as possible.

    Looking across the room, I noticed a Mars barhier: (Schoko-)Riegelbar and bottle of Coca-Cola on a table. When I pointed this out to him, he laughed and replied, “Ian, you’re supposed to do what I say, not what I do.”

    I was reminded of this incidentVorfall, Ereignisincident last weekend when I attended the 31st annualjährlich, Jahres-annual IATEFL-BESIG conference in the Romanian city of Iasi (pronounced “Yash”), an important centre of culture and learning.

    BESIG is the “Business English Special Interest Group”  — part of the International associationVerbandAssociation of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (IATEFL) — and is the world’s leading organization for the business English industryhier: Brancheindustry.

    Here was diversity, inclusiveness and curiosity in action

    At the conference in Iasi, some 200 teachers, trainers, authors and publisherVerleger(in); Verlagpublishers from a wide range of backgrounds and countries gathered to exchange news and ideas from across the industry.

    In addition to helping to organize the conference programme I took part in a dialogue with Chris Stanzer, the outgoingaus dem Amt scheidendoutgoing editorRedakteur(in)editor of the BESIG newsletter Business Issues, on the joys and pitfallFallstrick, Schwierigkeitpitfalls of magazine publishing.

    I also participated in a publishers’ panelhier: Hauptvortragpanel with representatives from Cornelsen, Express Publishing and Pearson on the latest developments in business English publishing, and gave a workshop about ways in which Business Spotlight makes teachers’ lives easier by providing supporting materials for using our products in the classroom.

    As well as the pleasure of getting to know colleagues from as far afield asaus so fernen Ländern wiefrom as far afield as Argentina, MoldovaMoldawienMoldova and the US, the conference programme had many highlights, including a strandhier: Reihe von Beiträgenstrand on coaching, a plenaryhier: Podiumsdiskussionplenary on the future of business and business English by Nick Robinson, and a most informative and amusing debate between Bob Dignen and Helen Strong on whether business English teachers are actually qualified to teach business English. Bob provocatively to argueargumentieren; hier auch: den Standpunkt vertretenargued “no”, Helen argued “yes”. The official result, based on audiencePublikum, Zuhörer(innen)audience applause, was a drawGleichstand, Unentschiedendraw, as to befit sth.sich für etw. ziemenbefits such debates. (Though Helen claimed afterwards that she had really won.)

    So why was I reminded of the incident at the doctor’s all those many moons ago? Because, unlike my doctor, the BESIG community actually practises what it to preach sth.etw. propagierenpreaches, something that was confirmed in comments from participants after the event.

    Here was diversityVielfaltdiversity, inclusiveness and curiosity in action, along with clear communication between (what has traditionally been called) native and non-native speakers of English. The atmosphere was friendly and supportiveförderlichsupportive. First-time attendeeTeilnehmer(in)attendees were made to feel welcome, and first-time speakers were given the help and encouragementErmunterung, Unterstützungencouragement they needed.  

    Many organizations could learn a lesson or two from BESIG. And anyone in the business English industry would benefit from becoming a BESIG member.


    In his blog, Ian McMaster has been commenting on global business issues since 2002. You will find more of his blog posts here.