In this blog, students taking the optional English course Dialogue: Constructive Talk at Work at the UTA Language Centre can have their group productions published. The rationale of the course is that – already during their university studies – students can practise the dialogue skills that are so much called for in working life (cf. e.g., Syvänen, Tikkamäki, Loppela, Tappura, Kasvio and Toikka 2015). The course approach is based on Bohmian dialogue, which raises awareness of the power of thinking together, the value of increasing understanding and equal communication in groups (cf. Bohm 1996, Isaacs 1999 and Ellinor and Gerard 1998). Practising the transferrable dialogue skills in English brings a global aspect to it; in today’s working life, it is not possible for an academic to think of only managing in his/her native language. English is the most common lingua franca in the world (Gagliardi and Maley 2010) and raising awareness of the challenges in using the language as a lingua franca is one important aspect of the course. To this end, the maximum number of students for this group was raised from 20 to 24 to make it possible for non-Finnish speaking students (the majority of them not degree students) to join the group and make it ‘global’.
The student productions published in this blog (always with the groups’ permission) are the result both of the students’ work as groups and as work without teacher interference. First, in each session, a dialogue skill is introduced and practiced. The skills include for instance: suspension of judgement, checking assumptions, inquiry, self-reflection, listening and voicing. Values and forgiveness in organizations (cf. Cameron and Caza 2002) are also discussed. In the latter part of each session, the students work as one group without a leader and organize their work as they wish, keeping their group values in mind, taking responsibility for the task and practising dialogue skills. The teacher acts as a facilitator only on request. The productions are not the main aim in this course; the dialogue process is, but the end result and experience are always creative (or innovative, if you like). At the end, the group inevitably says: “We did it ourselves!” (cf. Shinagel 2013).
Mirja Hämäläinen Collective art by Group 2, spring 2015
UTA Language Centre
Bohm, D. 1996, On dialogue, Routledge, London, GBR.
Cameron, K. & Caza, A. 2002, “Organizational and leadership virtues and the role of forgiveness”, Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 33-48.
Ellinor, L. & Gerard, G. 1998, Dialogue: Rediscover the transforming power of conversation, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York.
Gagliardi, C. & Maley, A. (eds) 2010, Linguistic insights, volume 96: EIL, ELF, global English: Teaching and learning issues, Peter Lang AG, Berne, IN, USA.
Isaacs, W. 1999, Dialogue and the art of thinking together, First edn, Currency, New York.
Shinagel, M. 2013, 3 July-last update, The paradox of leadership [Homepage of Harvard Division of Continuing Education: Professional Development], [Online]. Available: http://www.dce.harvard.edu/professional/blog [2016, 5 May].
Syvänen, S., Tikkamäki, K., Loppela, K., Tappura, S., Kasvio, A. & Toikka, T. 2015, Dialoginen johtaminen: Avain tuloksellisuuteen, työelämän laatuun ja innovativisuuteen, Tampere University Press, Tampere.