Category Archives: EPiC Online

Endorsement from Trainer of Trainers in Singapore Airlines

One of my neighbours in Melbourne is Tommy Soh. He and his wife Marina dropped by for lunch yesterday, and we chatted about many things. He asked a lot of questions about Genashtim, in particular our EPiC Online program. What he had to say about how we run our business is so profound that I asked him to write it down for me, which is attached herewith. Click Here.

With 43 years in Singapore Airlines, Tommy Soh has trained and mentored a large number of pilots and captains. As a trainer for trainers in a prestigious organization like Singapore Airlines, he is at the pinnacle of his game. He was also among the first pilots in the world to captain the A380. He has read about 200 books on training, and is in the process of writing one himself.

It is so heart-warming to be assured by someone like him for what we are doing.

UP Open University’s online systems disrupted due to Glenda (Rammasun)

Such natural disasters are very tragic and disruptive. This article (click here) talks about a typhoon taking down a prominent online learning system.

It is tempting to say that online learning is vulnerable and unreliable. But a bad storm could wipe a physical education institution, or even a whole town, which could take years to recover.

Nevertheless, that is why in Genashtim, we have chosen an entirely cloud-based platform to operate from. We are hosted on 3 separate domains, and additionally have our data and programs backed-up in 3 different locations in 3 countries. Our operations are entirely distributed, making disruptions easy to avoid at very short notice. In spite of having quite a significant proportion of our resources in the Philippines, not one single session of EPiC Online or Mandarin eSpeak, or any of our other services was affected during this recent typhoon Glenda (Rammasun), and even not with super typhoon Haiyan in 2013.

Singapore Minister for Manpower talks about Genashtim and EPiC Online

Opening Address by Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Minister for Manpower at the Adult Learning Symposium 2014 “Transforming CET: Innovation in Workplace Practice and Learning”, 10 July 2014, 9:15 AM, Raffles City Convention Centre.

Item 9.
Genashtim Innovative Learning is a Singapore company that decided to develop and launch its own brand of online learning programmes. One such programme, the EPiC Online, allows live one-on-one, face-to-face English language coaching service. EPiC Online can be further customised with role play and actual problem scenarios to help e-learners to practise English in their work situations. This e-learning programme has been adopted by multinational companies such as McDonalds and Holiday Inn Singapore to train their staff.

Click here for full speech

Job seekers with A in SPM English but can’t speak a word of it…

This rather interesting article on 26th June 2014 (The Malaysian Insider) has 3 key points:-
1. Graduates with distinction in English, cannot speak the language
2. The sorrows of the education system in Malaysia
3. The attitude of the Generation Y

I think much has been said about the sorrows of the education system in Malaysia, and I don’t feel qualified to add anything new. The attitude of the Generation Y is an entire topic on its own which is perhaps best dealt with in a different forum. But I did write an article about this in a People Management magazine some years ago click here.

As for graduates with distinction in English, not being able to speak the language, we should not be surprised. This is not a phenomenon that is unique to Malaysia. In 2009, the Ministry of Education in Japan declared that English has to be taught in English in schools from 2013 - click here

Today in 2014, there is no more talk about this. The reality is that most teachers who teach English in Japan cannot actually speak English. And this is probably similar in many countries.

I wanted to hire an English teacher in China in 2010. Henry had a degree in English from a Chinese university, and had written an English book of poetry. He had taught English to thousands of Chinese students over 18 years. He was even the author of the “learn English” section of a local newspaper. But he could not be interviewed in English!

Hence any language education has to include an appropriate level of practice of usage of the language in conversation. Confidence in using the language and conversational proficiency can best be achieved by speaking with different people in different situations. That is why our language coaching programs EPiC Online and Mandarin eSpeak are designed the way they are – with rotating coaches, not selected by the students.

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For information about our online English learning services, visit www.epiclanguage.com, and for our online Chinese language learning services, visit www.mandarin-espeak.com.

Native Speakers

I am rather perplexed at the fixation most educated intellectual people have regarding trying to learn a language from native speakers.

Firstly, native speakers are not necessarily the best teachers of their language. This is because most of them are probably monolingual, which means they have never learnt to speak a second language. Hence they are at a disadvantage to understand how someone can acquire a second language.

Secondly, taking English as an example, I question why you need to learn to speak English from a native speaker. You probably need to speak English with a variety of different people, most of whom are using English as a second language as well. Let me give you this example of a multinational company in China that wanted to enroll their representatives to learn English, insisting on having native English speakers as teachers. I asked them who their staff will be using English with. This was an engineering company, and their technology centers were in Sweden, Italy and Germany. Hence it did not really make sense for them to be taught English by an American, British or Australian. Even when you travel to places like London and New York, Sydney, I am quite sure that more than half the time you will be speaking English to people who are using English as a second language.

Lastly, there is no homogeneity among native English speakers. There is no such thing as a common American accent or dialect because different parts of the USA have different accents. Texas, New York and New Orleans all produce speakers with different accents. Within England itself, there is even a wider spectrum, such as Cockney, Yorkshire, Geordie, and Estuary just to name a few. In Australia and New Zealand, and Canada, the accents are also different. In Zimbabwe, the only medium of education is English, so are they native speakers too?

To further illustrate my point, please watch this video of a young man imitating different native accents: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMc3fOhMDUM


For information about our online English learning services, visit www.epiclanguage.com, and for our online Chinese language  learning services, visit www.mandarin-espeak.com.

Learning to speak a new language in a classroom

It is hard to imagine that you can improve your conversational skills in a classroom with a fixed teacher or tutor. If you want to improve your listening and speaking skills, you should be practicing with different people, and one a one-to-one basis.

There are several reasons for this:

  1. In a classroom environment, it is generally not possible to engage in a dialogue. You end up taking turns to say something. This is not how conversation take place in a real life environment.
  2. You learn to increase your listening tolerance (the bandwidth of your listening) by speaking with different people. Different people speak differently, even if they share the same nationality or racial background. When I was first posted to the Philippines as a country manager for a multinational company, on one occasion, I asked my staff, “When are you going to get back to me?” They could not understand me even when I repeated this several times. The reason is that as a Malaysian I’m used to pronouncing back as beg. When I was pushed to re-emphasise, I pronounced it as beck. However, the Filipinos are used to hearing back as bark.
  3. You need to build your confidence in using your newly acquired language with people you have not met before. If you have only been speaking with your teachers in class, this will not help to overcome your intimidation and nervousness when you need to talk to someone that you have not met before. Practicing with different people is particularly useful in a language test situation because your assessor will definitely be someone you have never met before and you do not know how he/she will speak.

 


For information about our online English learning services, visit www.epiclanguage.com, and for our online Chinese language  learning services, visit www.mandarin-espeak.com.