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BGSU language group hopes to prep local firms for global forum

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    Han Li, office manager of the Language Services Group at Bowling Green State University.


Han Li, office manager of the Language Services Group at Bowling Green State University.


If you want to impress your Chinese business partner, say "gan bei" instead of "cheers" when toasting to your partnership.

As the Five Lakes Global Economic Forum in September approaches, the Language Services Group at Bowling Green State University hopes to prepare local businesses to welcome their Chinese guests. The group will run a four-week intensive online course of Chinese language and business culture Aug. 6-31.

"The purpose of the course is to learn the very basics of Chinese language and culture. It will help local businesses to create a better first impression on their Chinese partners," said Han Li, office manager of the Language Services Group, who designed the online Chinese business course.

The course aims to help participants learn some useful Chinese (Mandarin) expressions and understand Chinese business culture.

"Learning Chinese can be challenging, but the curriculum, with examples and case studies, will be fun and practical for participants." Ms. Li said.

The curriculum is about 75 percent language learning and 25 percent cultural lessons, Ms. Li said. The language part will focus on useful business expressions, such as how to wish Chinese partners a successful business. Participants will also learn about Chinese business customs and rituals, such as whether it is appropriate to bow to Chinese.

"Knowing the language and culture can be a deal maker. With the basic knowledge of Chinese language and culture, our businesses have more chances to make a deal. The course will also help them to eliminate cultural shocks," said Irina Stakhanova, the group's executive director.

The cost of the four-week course is $250, with a $50 discount for those who register by 5 p.m. Aug. 1. More information is available from the Language Services Group at

Participants will have access to the online lectures any time.

The one-hour lectures, in the form of Power Point presentations, include text and audio content for self-study.

Each week, participants are also asked to schedule a one-hour Skype session with the instructor to practice and ask questions.

"The online course is designed to fit with the busy schedule of professionals. The one-on-one video session each week means that you have your own instructor and can ask any question about the lectures." Ms. Li said.

Ms. Li has an master's degree in business administration from Bowling Green State University and three years of experience in teaching Chinese as a foreign language. She spent more than two months designing the curriculum.

"I tried to keep the course simple and practical. By the end of the course, participants will be able to gradually build up their vocabulary and speak simple sentences." Ms. Li said.

For those who wish to learn more, the course provides supplementary materials of additional vocabulary and expressions.

"When we first learned about the economic forum, we thought this would be a great opportunity to help local businesses," Ms. Stakhanova said.

The economic forum will take place between Sept. 24-26 at the Park Inn Hotel in downtown Toledo. About 200 potential investors from China, Japan, Europe, and the United Arab Emirates will join more than 200 business leaders and economic development officials from northwest Ohio and southwest Michigan.

"The course is a great idea and will have high payoff for those attending the forum and are interested in doing business with China," said Bill Rudolph, chairman of Rudolph/Libbe Cos., in a statement to The Blade. Rudolph/Libbe has worked with Chinese investors in Toledo and used the language group's translation service.

"We applaud the efforts of our economic development and education resources to help prepare our community for this upcoming forum. Mutual understanding of language and culture is part of what fosters long-term beneficial relationships," Matt Schroder, a spokesman for Owens Corning, wrote in an email to The Blade.

The online Chinese business course is one of the many programs by the language services group. Founded in June, 2011, the language service group has provided translation and interpreting, cross-cultural consulting, and language courses for businesses and individuals.

The group is considering offering the online Chinese course on a rolling basis after the economic forum, but the plan has not been finalized yet.

"Our main goal is to help the local business community to gain access to global markets. We also work with local community members who are interested in learning about other cultures." Ms. Stakhanova said.

Contact Liyan Chen at: or 419-724-6065.

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