Constructive Talk at Work: Dialogue!


“This course was pretty odd and maybe one of a kind here in our university, and I am glad that I took it and could be part of this specific group.” (From a Moodle blog entry by Marko Rantala, spring 2015.)



We sit in a circle. Is that why it’s so different? No, maybe not. The idea of the course is that workplace communication as constructive collegial communication may have been a slightly neglected area of communication in language education. This is surely changing; in fact the Language Centre is offering more and more courses that specifically focus on team work skills. Indeed those are the skills that the UTA students who are being educated to become “visionaries who understand the world and change it” (UTA Strategy 2010-2015) definitely need in the global interconnected world where English is increasingly being seen as a second rather than a foreign language

The course has received a warm welcome, but not always from all. As an afterthought some students have said that because the course requires self-reflection, it can be a challenge. Becoming aware of one’s own communication is not necessarily easy and not something traditionally considered to be a part of language courses. But what are languages for?

Sitting in a circle, doing dialogue exercises and working on a group task make a group a real group. Each group is different – fascinatingly so. Each group works on a group task related to working life. They define the topic themselves, always so that they want to take the end product with them to remember in working life. A group this spring produced a Prezi presentation on Work Challenges and gave permission to publish the link here in the blog (just click the image below). The presentation is a result of their dialogues in the sessions and all the members agreed on the contents. This was made clear by their signatures (that are not published here but documented elsewhere). I thank the group for the dialogues, their permission to use quotes, the photo and the presentation. I thank all previous groups as well and look forward to witnessing some more constructive, intelligent and inspiring dialogues through English as a lingua franca!


Looking back on this course I have to admit that it really helped me with my social anxieties. Even if it was every week a bit terrifying to attend and talk to people it got easier each time. The course also taught me to work in a larger group with no one actually leading, which I have never done before. At first it felt strange but once you got used to it, it wasn’t half as bad. The third thing that I learned was critical self-observation. Suspending judgments was a useful exercise and I think I’m not the only one who learned something new about oneself.  I just hope I don’t forget everything in a month or two.” (From a Moodle blog entry by Kaisa Kuhalainen, spring 2015.)

Mirja Hämäläinen

Lecturer in English

P.S. In dialogue languages co-exist. If you are interested in knowing more, you can listen to this programme in Swedish about dialogue and working life:


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