By Dave Volek
What should I do with the great innovative BE activities I have put together to enhance BE training when no teacher or learner even wants to try them out? Admit defeat and pull out from the marketplace after a great investment? Continue to market harder and hope that some teacher will recognize these new ideas are worthy of a classroom trial, (and hopefully before all my marketing money runs out)?
I have chosen to take a step back and analyze the marketplace of Business English and discover the source of the profession's reluctance to try my new ideas. In the past, I created three documents that address my findings:
This series of webpages is my most recent market research document, which displays a more mature understanding of why DVBE has failed.
The ideas in this document came from several sources and inspirations. First and foremost was the quest to find out why this BE program has not gained any recognition from teachers and learners. I really believed (and still do) that DVBE is something new and exciting in BE training and has an important role to play. So I have been watching the BE profession mostly through the Internet to gain some insights into the rejection, usually through internet discussion groups.
Part of putting this puzzle together was finding out what the recognized thinkers were saying. I spent about three days going through about 50 BE research papers in November 2010, and I was very disappointed. There were very poor experimental setups; too few test subjects; vague, obscure, and even non-existent data; and no application of statistics. Any conclusions could not be considered representative of the BE world, thus were of no consequence to bettering the profession. In many other professional fields, papers of such poor quality would never be published.
When I pointed this out on the newsgroups, several BE professionals were quick to disagree with me, citing that BE research does indeed have value—and that I must have been looking at the worst papers. Rather than argue with them, I pointed out a research project I had prepared previously. They could not come up with any recent research done on this kind of scale or with such a focused objective. The conclusion I came up with is the BE profession is very rudderless, with no direction of how or why to improve itself. It is very content with the services it is currently providing, which probably matured about 15 years ago with the concept of “needs analysis.” The profession's only complaint is that it's not getting paid enough, a theme that is going to reappear often in this paper.
My third insight came when I came across a paper by Dr. Ian Kirkwood about “General Business Communications (GBC),” “Specific Business Communications (SBC),” and “Performance Business Communications (PBC).” I had encountered these concepts online before under the terms of “General Business English ( GBE),” “Specific Business English (SBE),” and “Performance Business English (PBE).” But I didn't understand these terms very well until I came across Kirkwood's paper:
I had two epiphanies after reading this paper. First, I was able to define what I was trying to accomplish with my innovative BE approach. I could now position DVBE in the marketplace of current BE trends. Second, I saw how the BE publishers and teachers should be promoting themselves and how the learners could define what they really wanted from their BE training.
To develop both epiphanies, I had to realize that there were no such things as 100% GBE or 100% SBE or 100% PBE. Every BE lesson has elements of each of these three BE components to it; some components are just more emphasized than others, depending on the material being used, the teacher, and the learners. So rather than classifying BE training as one of three possible absolutes, there is a continuum of many possibilities.
The graphic below depicts how a hypothetical BE lesson might be categorized on this continuum.
This lesson appears to be about 50% SBE, 40% GBE, and 10% PBE. Such a lesson is typical of many BE lessons where the teacher is trying to expose learners to the basic vocabulary of a particular field of business. Of course, such an assessment is somewhat subjective, but most experienced teachers would come to a reasonable agreement of the approximate location of where this lesson should be positioned in the paradigm.
Throughout the rest of this paper, a GBE/SBE/PBE rating will be provided for the materials I have developed. The rating will be in the format of XX/YY/ZZ, which represents the percentage of GBE, SBE, and PBE, respectively. For example, this material would be stated as 50/40/10.
A Commercial Interest?
It would be very easy for many readers to conclude that because the I, a BE publisher, have written this paper, there is an immense commercial interest behind my intentions. Hence, there is an ulterior motive of profit, so anything I say should probably be ignored. However, the commercial interest has been gone for some time. For more than a year, all my material has been freely available to download and place in a classroom. There is no profit, let alone recovery of original investment for this publisher.
Rather, readers should regard my experience in BE developing and publishing as a testament to the state of the BE profession. Please read this paper, my earlier papers and the modules, which are all free. Come to your own conclusion as to why this innovation did not go anywhere and what this says about the BE profession.
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