Course Analysing: English for Effective Business Speaking by HKUST

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Hello,

In this post, I structured information, expectation, and challenges of the course of English for Effective Business Speaking Course. Besides, the post continues of series of my publications about studying of Business English for Non-Native Speakers Specialisation by Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Summary

In this course, you can find information about introducing yourself in a business context, creating online presentations, persuasively speaking and focusing. The practice part of the course (peer-graded assignments) can help to find the right way for briefly and structured speaking.
However, there is the large issue of peer-graded assignments; Which caused by students lack and specific of the test-grading system. This is a significantly reducing the pleasure from the course and makes passing difficult.

Description

The course values are presented as a getting knowledge, skills, and ability to deliver professional business speeches for specific purposes.The course needs 6 weeks of study, 4-6 hours/week.

By the description, after completing this course, participants will be able to:
– delivery effective job interviews
– give persuasive business pitches
– delivery informative business presentations
– speak persuasively in English
– adapt content to purpose, context, and audience

First expectations

Because of the topic, description and great theoretical base from the previous class, I expected that this course focused more on the practice side, and will include a significant amount of peer-grade reviews. Therefore, I was surprised when I found only 5 peer-grades in the course, the same number as I had in the previous course.

Did it mean, that the course should be going faster? My last experience gave the cue that I had to expect peer-grade issues, and the answer should be “No.”
Running ahead, the reality justified the fear but also revealed specific features and greatly reduced my initial optimism about the specialization in general.

Also, I was intrigued; why the course includes modules about interviews and business pitches/presentations. The answers were founded fastly, and the course structure looked extremely logical and useful. Let us talk about it.

Business speaking is a briefly speaking

The course includes participating in an interview, which is an authentic example of an introducing yourself in a business context. And this is the main point why the interview is included.

The second reason is timing. The interviewer has around 1 minute for short brief includes self-presenting, qualities, relevant skills, reasons for the interviewee suitability for the position together with sufficient and appropriate support. In business communication essential to know how to provide information briefly, succinctly, shortly, etc

The interviewer also has to use non-verbal communication as well as appropriate language and tone. To the course passing, she/he should have minimum 10 points from 12 in each peer-grade assignments. All of this makes important deep preparing and needs the hi-level of speaking skills (more as IELTS 6.5). Good practice.

Lack of peer-grades

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However, there were issues related to the peers. Some classmates made mistook during grading or make it wrong. It’s not good but happens in Coursera, and usually, this does not affect the assessment too much, because there are many fellow students on the course and grading is averaged.
However, if there are lack of students and high passing scores, an effect of this wrong grading grows dramatically.

As you can guess, both of these challenges happened during the course. Firstly, I had to change the session because there was nobody to recheck my homework. And during next session, I had to resend the assignment.

At the end

I like this specialization, courses structure, and materials. However, the grading system is imperfect.

If you decided to take the course, you should be ready to repass you assignments and change learning sessions. Also, since some of the students left the specialization (from forum posts), their total number decreased. And it makes the grading challenges more tangible in the future. In other words, the critical mass of students may not be sufficient at the end of the specialization.

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