Monday, October 29, 2012
This role-playing is highlighted in One Night at the Call Centre, a novel by investment banker Chetan Bhagat that sold over 100,000 copies within a month of its release in India in 2006. The story takes place over a single night at an Indian call centre servicing American appliance users. The main characters have false American names (Shyam is “Sam”, Radhika is “Regina”) and loathe having to be servile to customers they consider less intelligent and educated than themselves. Their instructor advises them to think of 35-year-old Americans as having the same IQ as a 10-year-old Indian.
Monday, October 8, 2012
Last time I wrote about international university rankings and wondered whether they were biased toward English-speaking countries. This time I want to say something about how some Asian countries are trying to attract more foreign students by changing their semesters and increasing the number of courses in English. Previously, American students wanting to study for one year in Malaysia, Thailand and Japan, and Malaysians, Thais and Japanese wanting to study for one year in America might have to take two years away from their home university because of differences in the school calendar. But Malaysian universities have started to change their school year so that it begins in September, coinciding with North America and Europe. Many Thai universities will do the same from next year, and Japan’s University of Tokyo is making similar changes.
Recently, Time magazine’s website reported on new programmes for undergraduates at the University of Tokyo starting this month that will be taught entirely in English. These are open to Japanese students but will include participants from 14 other countries. Other universities with programmes in English include Waseda and ICU in Tokyo and Doshisha in Kyoto. Meanwhile the government’s Global 30 initiative aims to increase the number of Japanese students going overseas. Some people think that these changes may help foreigners more than they help the Japanese, however. Already, thousands of Asian students are getting degrees from Japanese universities and then getting jobs with Japanese companies. Many of them were already fluent in Japanese before they came to Japan, especially in writing, which is somewhat easier if you have a language background in Chinese or Korean. Having studied alongside Japanese students, they are attractive to many Japanese companies when they go for job interviews because they speak Japanese and understand Japanese culture well, but they also speak one or two other Asian languages and English well, unlike most of their Japanese friends.