Reading Each Other Better

Educators and writers share knowledge on gaining intercultural skills through cultivating good reading habits

From left: Ungku Nazli Ungku Ismail, Vice-Principal of Canadian Pre-University, Taylor’s College joined by Amir Muhammad, publisher, moviemaker and founder of Bukufixi, Simon John Williams, ESL lecturer, Taylor’s University and founder of ‘Stories from…’, and Prof Malachi Edwin Vethamani, Professor of Modern English Literature, University of Nottingham.

Three personalities well-known among Malaysians for communicating culture and ideas through the written word voiced their ideas aloud today at Taylor’s College. In a talk themed Building Intercultural Competency through Reading, students of the Canadian Pre-University (CPU) programme were able to learn how reading can help demonstrate flexibility in multicultural interaction, and provide students with the opportunity to adapt to new surroundings and actively seek out learning opportunities.

Amir Muhammad, a publisher, movie-maker and founder of BukuFixi was joined by Professor Malachi Edwin Vethamani, Professor of Modern English Literature at the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus and New Sunday Times columnist and Simon John Williams, ESL lecturer at Taylor’s University and founder of ‘Stories from…’- a social initiative that collects and publishes stories from local communities, for the special session with the students.

“The world is increasingly becoming a global village. Being able to communicate well with people from diverse cultural origins and all walks of life is an important life skill that students should hone. At Taylor’s College, we want to empower students with life skills such as intercultural competency that can help them not only in the global workplace but also help them manoeuvre the global community at large. If having good reading habits can help achieve this goal, we want our students to get a head start on this,” said Hoe-Khoo Li Lin, Academic Director of Taylor’s College.

Every year, the number of fresh graduates increases steadily, which in turn influences the national unemployment rate. The rise in unemployment is a looming worry, with an increase of 3.1% in 2015. At the same time, studies indicate that among major skill sets employers consider most important when hiring, communications skills tops the list. Employers also agree on the importance of intercultural communications skills and the ability to work within diverse teams.“In light of this, it is very important for students to accumulate as much advantage as they can, with intercultural skills being an important plus point that improves their employability,” added Mrs Hoe-Khoo.

Professor Malachi Edwin Vethamani highlighted the importance of acquiring the profound skill, “Intercultural competence in the modern world workplace is a crucial point of development as technology in communication and connectivity enables us to connect with people from a wide range of background and cultures.

“Universities provide a good platform for intercultural interaction because of the interaction with international students. That being said, the responsibility of a universities on the student body is to create opportunity for intercultural encounters among students so that when they go to the work floor, they can transfer some of the skills they’ve developed,” added Malachi.

Mr. Simon highlighted the importance of general reading that will expose students to understand people from different cultures especially in an education environment that has a mix of international students.

The unique talk is a first for the CPU students, and reflects the programme’s multicultural outlook and interactive learning style, which encourages versatile students to shine through a broad-based curriculum that is both dynamic and creative. The activity is also in line with the 3Ls of Taylor’s College (Learning, Leadership and Life Skills) that it imparts to all students, and the college’s 5Cs (collaboration, creative thinking and problem solving, communication, creativity and innovation and cultural adaptation) that it hones in students, to ensure they are ready to face the competition at the world’s top universities and in the workplace, besides overcoming life challenges.

For more information on Taylor’s College, please visit here.