Monday, February 21, 2011

A little light expat reading

LiteratureA few snips from the literature to start the new week:

  • * Speaking a second language can delay dementia onset for years. (The Independent)

Researchers in Toronto report a 4-5 year delay in onset of symptoms, better than can be achieved with any drug, if you go through the “mental gymnasium” of becoming bilingual.  I would expect that much the same would hold for expatriate experiences generally: exercising the brain at any level, throughout life, is good for you.

  • Emotional intelligence correlates of the four-factor model of cultural intelligence. (Moon)

Cultural intelligence (CQ) is defined as an individual’s capability in adjusting to a new cultural context and by their ability to work with people who have dissimilar cultural backgrounds and understandings.

Emotional intelligence (EQ) enables individuals to monitor the motions of others and their own emotional status, to  discriminate among these emotions and to use this information to guide thinking and actions.

Moon showed that the two are related to each other and that both predict expat success.  The four EI skills (self-awareness,  self-management, social awareness, and relationship management) complement the four CQ skills (Perceiving, understanding, adapting, and accepting cultural differences), and all are important in assessing fitness for international assignments.

  • Self-initiated foreign expatriates versus assigned expatriates.  (Biemann)

Self-initiated Expats start their international careers at a younger age, have a higher organizational mobility, and expect higher benefits from international experiences for their future careers. Moreover, career orientation remains relatively stable in Self-initiated Expats over different age groups, whereas it declines for Assigned Expats with increasing age.

Companies often complain that there is a lack of truly international managers and that traditional expatriate managers are more like “accidental tourists” than a group of employees that enjoys being relocated to many different places.  This characteristic applies particularly to Assigned Expats. 

While Self-Initiated Expats can be seen as truly global managers with a high willingness to move to other countries throughout their careers, this apparent advantage fades because they are also willing to change organizations regularly.

Not strictly an expat note, but it made me smile.

A good employer provides four basic things. First, it makes sure that everyone has a proper job to do. Second, it pays them fairly. Third, it makes employees feel that their efforts are recognised. And fourth, it gives them nice people to work with.


Jules said...

Do you think that learning more than one language can exacerbate a speech impediment?

I vaguely remember having to go to a speech therapist as a child--later in life (to this day) I still have problems pronouncing some words, and I'll stutter if I'm trying to go back and forth between English and Dutch. I didn't learn English until I was 4, though it has effectively replaced Chinese as my native language.

My boyfriend also stutters when he's translating--it's weird. But once the "transition" is complete, then it's largely impediment-free, at least until I have a vocabulary issue...

Dave Hampton said...

Its an interesting question - I tend to hesitate and backtrack rather than stutter, but I can see where the cognitive dissonance might create a tendancy to stutter as you have to think about the mechanics of speaking.

When I had to do my read-aloud for the Dutch language test last week I was more start-and-stop hesitncy than anything else, devoid of emotional nuance or cadence. Hopefully that comes with practice...