Advanced language use= learning the language of collaboration?

“Economic competition ultimately leads to a contest of innovation; competition to innovate eventually becomes a question of human talent; in the end, the competition for the best talent boils down to competition in education.  The education system in China today will ultimately determine the Chinese economy of tomorrow.”  (QIAN Yingyi, at the Chinese Entrepreneur’s Forum)


“经济的竞争最终是创新的竞争,创新的竞争最终是人才的竞争,而人才的竞争最终是教育的竞争。中国教育的今天,就是中国经济的明天。” (钱颖一, 在中国企业家论坛)

Dr. Qian’s comments are definitely food for thought, but I would like to read more about Chinese thinking on collaboration as a key element of innovation.  That is to say, once you’ve assembled your team of talented ‘人才’, what makes a good team tick?  Does collaboration have a role to play in education as well?

You can’t just stick a bunch of brilliant people together (i.e. the competition for talent) and hope for miracles.  Are there positive steps we can take to ensure team members have the socio-linguistic skills to work together to accomplish things that haven’t been done before?  This is hard enough when everyone comes from a similar socio-economic background— but what about the global teams that are fast becoming the norm?

I don’t have an answer, but when people talk about ‘advanced’ foreign language skills, I wish that the conversation didn’t get mired in complex grammar and obscure vocabulary; in my books, the ability to nurture positive group dynamics, or recover from misunderstandings and setbacks is the true mark of an ‘advanced’ language learner–at least, those are the kinds of social/language skills to which I aspire (still a long way to go!).

As always, we’re left with the unanswered question of ‘how?’.  A colleague recently pointed me toward “Learning to live together” as one of the four UNESCO pillars of 21st century education—perhaps there are some clues there?


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