Jul 242012

EntrepreneurshipIn UniKey we are developing and piloting an online training for trans-border SME interns which will help them reflect on important aspects of the entrepreneurial skill-set such as confidentiality, ethics, patents, self-organisation and intercultural issues. Participants will complete tasks about their own placement as well as working with interns in other countries on joint collaborative tasks. In this way participants will learn both from their own internship and that of others.

A foreign internship can be a great addition to the CV but as with all learning experiences it has more value if it is facilitated in some way. The two year Uni-Key project, supported by the European Union, encourages students to seek internships in small and medium-sized (SME) companies where they will have a greater chance to witness global entrepreneurship in action as well as having a closer connection to the person who drives the business. Not only that, but to ensure the process is mutually beneficial the UniKey project is exploring ways in which the intern can bring relevant new developments from their home university to the internship.

The first pilot will start in October and you can sign up now if you already know that you will be an intern at that time. We even have suggestions for possible internships which don’t have to be within Europe. One interesting possibility is to work at Godding and Godding near  Hoedspruit, the Kruger Park area in South Africa. This company produces high quality silk products for personal use such as bed linen, towels and night clothes. And having just returned from Hoedspruit where I visited the Godding and Godding shop I can vouch for both the quality of the products and the fascination of the location.

Do business from a global perspective!

Apr 172012
Picture by the Abode of Chaos, Flickr

by the Abode of Chaos http://www.flickr.com/photos/home_of_chaos/5287303391/

Over the past week I’ve been talking to a European company about being an online teacher of English. Everything seemed to be going well. They liked me. They wanted me on their books. These people seemed professional and fair. The internet is bristling with online language teaching sites. Most of them seem to be thinly disguised dating agencies, while those which really are in the business of language teaching will go as low as $8 an hour in the case of the very worthwhile Glovico which bills itself as Fair Trade language learning.

Then we started talking about a fee. Even though I quoted a price which would immediately raise accusations of cheap labour here in Denmark, that was too much for the company and we have gone our separate ways. That is a problem of living in one of the wealthiest countries in the world which also has the highest taxation rate in the world. Obama pays 20%? Your ordinary Joe or Jørgen here in Denmark pays an average of 40%.

This was never going to be my full time job. I was only looking for a couple of hours a week to keep my hand in. But even I have my limits. I risk being investigated by the tax authorities here for possible fraud if I accept too many assignments under the Danish norm.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you globalisation! I’m not complaining. Just observing.

Jan 192010

It amuses me a little that I have just taken delivery of a book published in India to which I have contributed a chapter. I guess that just shows my age.

When I arrived in Denmark 17 years ago I thought I was being extremely international in having a contract to write a text book for a British publisher for the Further Education market there while living in Denmark. As it turned out I felt that I had an easier job writing the book in Denmark with free access to almost any book or article I needed than if I had stayed in the UK to do it. I guess I was lucky that the book was about the European Union so it was not too much to expect that I could find materials on that here in Denmark. I got the contract for that book because the publisher was based in the same town as I was (when I was still in the UK) and their representatives had visited our college asking if anybody felt able to write a book.

Seventeen years later and I give an online presentation about podcasts in language learning and then publish an accompanying article. That article is picked up by an editor in India who asks me if I would like to contribute a chapter. Truly globalised. Since I had just started coordinating the VITAE project at the time, April 2008, I elected to write the chapter explaining the VITAE approach. The book is

‘Teaching English as a Second Language – A new pedagogy for a New Century’ edited by Manish A. Vyas and Yogesh L. Patel 2009 PHI Learning Private Limited, New Delhi

It certainly does cover a wide range of topics attempting to introduce new approaches in a wide variety of aspects of language teaching and includes so much material that I have not had a chance to fully appreciate yet what sort of publication I have contributed to.

But while the sourcing of contributors and editing and proof-reading may have taken place electronically, the process seemed to come to a grinding halt once we were back in the physical world of printing words on paper so the publication date originally set for March 2009 was in the end barely before the new year of 2010 was rung in. Not a tremendous delay in the physical world but an eon in digital terms.

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