SALESASSISTANTS’ PERCEPTION OF LANGUAGE COMPETENCE: ORDU- F?DANGÖR CASE CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION1.1.IntroductionWe live in aworld which always changes the power balance. There are a lot of countrieswhich try to get and take the power under control. When one of these countriesgets power, all coordination requires to be ordered again. This coordinationincludes a common language in the world common, too.
This language becomesdifferent language, it is demanded to be learnt, because all countries want tobe close to power to take advantage. Countries want to be on good terms withnations which rule the world, go off the deep end with some essential stepsincluding learning second language of country which determine the powerbalance. Many languages have been used around the worldas contact languages for international trade and communication(Rogerson-Revell, 2007). The language is English. Accordingto many philologists and sociologist a globalization of a language may not berelated to the count of the people who speak it.
The main reasons of theglobalization of a language are related to these terms which are politic,military, and economic potential (Fishman, 1998-1999).In accordance with the table inethnologue languages of the world, today the mostly used language is Chinese byits native speaker, right after Spanish comes, and the third one is English.But this search is related to the foreign language (buray? sor) . Half of a billion people speak English asa second language. This indicates the remarkable success of English as thelingua franca of business, travel and international relations (Lane, 2017).
Description of lingua franca English, inwhich speakers accommodate and negotiate linguistic forms and meanings based ontheir available resources (Canagarajah, 2007). But how English became thelingua franca of the world? House (2002)explains that the spread of English has been promoted by the following factors:the worldwide extension of the British Empire; the political and economicinfluence of the USA: the development of modern information and communicationtechnologies; and the growth of international mergers and acquisitions (buray?sor mutlaka).Under these circumstances,language training in both public schools and private institutions havedifferent standpoint; because language acquisition starts to play crucial rolein human life. Our country starts to teach second language children at their early ages. Thistraining begins in primary schools and colleges and it continues inuniversities. But according to records it does not help people to learn Englishand be competent (Ülkar, Esra 2015). It clearly shows that there is a pointwhich is missing. This study does not aim at criticizing methods which arearranged by state but we should understand the reason why our failure at thisstage.
Last years have been several regulations (Erku?-Babayi?it, 2013) which are well-organized in theory yet will itbe succeed, could they be achieved in practical about language teaching incurriculum by ministry of national education? And could it prevent the lack ofcompetence in English?English is notrequired only for academic purposes. People who are in this area learn thelanguage sooner or later because to know English would be in favor of them. Onthe other hand people who work in informal jobs which is not required beingformal degrees and certificates are not in need of learning English. In ourcountry without university certificate a person could find jobs assales-assistant. Because they have not certificate or degree the employersthink that the person whom is hired by them is going to be in need of them. Ofcourse there are people who are certificated from the departments about salesand marketing but they are graduated from the institutions and well-educated sothey do not see themselves as only sales assistants and follow the bigopportunities and also if they work in small shops they know that they couldnot find a chance to develop themselves. And the employers know this truth andthe demands of them they are in a desire to employ them. Because the others whoare not graduated from the institutes like they do will accept whatever theconditions would be and for now everything is okay but when their salary is notenough for their expenses they do not have chance to move up to higher positionin their jobs.
They could manage it only thanks to their sales rate and if theyare lucky they are awarded by the employer. To make their sales rates increasethey should have some skills. According to Dench, Kodz, and Perryman 1997 these are ranged in thetrading skills for sales assistants are: Personal characteristics – obtaining people with the right attitudes and outlook was seen essential; in particular, people who liked working with, and serving people were sought Basic literacy and numeracy Customer service skills Selling skills Computer literacy Product knowledge A knowledge of the law and other regulations Taking responsibility and initiative Other areas, including using the telephone, merchandising and housekeeping. (Dench, Kodz, and Perryman 1997,11) Moreover salesassistants are expected to Be literate and numerate, able to use numbers Have strong personal skills, including an attitude and outlook which gave them a desire to work with and serve people Provide good customer service, whether this involved simply letting customers know they were there if needed or giving focused attention Be able to sell Be computer literate Know about the products they were selling and, more generally, about other products and services provided by the organization Pay attention to the physical environment of the store Take responsibility for a wide range of tasks and show initiative Work harder, smarter and efficiently. (Dench, Kodz, and Perryman 1997,11)As we see, beinga sales assistant needs multi-tasking features, and these features include notonly personal factors or technology but also the factors such as being able tosell.
For selling, employees should be confident and social enough. And it requires customer service skills, also. They should be able toeasily understand the problem or the demand of the customers; find an answer orsolution for those problems.
In their own language, it is not so hard toovercome these things, because both sides can transplant and figure out thoseproblems so find a compromise. Today, sales assistants in touristic places orshopping centers do not deal with the people who only speak the same language butthe people who speak different languages. People who do not speak the samelanguage have some struggles to express themselves. It contains both sides. Forinstance, the foreign customer is a visitor in the place that her/his nativelanguage is not spoken so they do not insist on to communicate via their nativelanguage with the people who do not know their language. And also the salesassistant cannot make themselves clear by speaking in their own language thatthe customer does not understand. In this position, if they do not know anyother language that they can bargain, they mostly do it with their gestures andmimics and more often with the calculating machine to show the price or thediscount and the last price. But in cases both side know another same languageit would be much easier to compromise.
The language which is used in thoseconditions is called Lingua Franca. Today English is the most used LinguaFranca worldwide. English as a lingua franca (ELF), has been on the researchagenda since the mid-2000s (e.g.
Du Babcock; 2009; Nickerson, 2005; Planken,2005; Rogerson-Revell, 2007; also Rogerson-Revell – Salminen,2010). The description of lingua franca English, in which speakersaccommodate and negotiate linguistic forms and meaning based on their availableresources (Cnagarajah, 2007). According to Louhiala-Salminen (2005) English asLingua Franca (ELF) is used by speakers of different mother tongues, but itdoes not distinguish its purpose or domain of use in any way (264). They alsocreated the BELF(English as Business Lingua Franca) to emphasize the purpose ofcommunication and distinguish the domain of use(264). On the authority ofKubota and Mckay (2003) English should be taught and used as a lingua franca incross-linguistic situations (602). The concept of ELF entails that is used by thespeakers of different mother tongues, but it does not distinguish its purposeor domain of use in any way. Since such a distinction was considered relevant forinvestigating business and corporate communication, Louhiala-Salminen et al.(2005) introduced the notion of BELF (English as Business Lingua Franca) toemphasize the purpose of communication and distinguish the domain of use.
Today sales assistants who know English communicate the foreign customersmostly in ELF. Sometimes it helps them, but in some conditions it does not.These results have different reasons. And the results make us to think about ifthe sale is successful how the assistants succeed it, do they give sufficientknowledge to the customer, do they understand the issue and give exact answerwhich they are supposed to, and if the sale is not successful why. But the mainquestion is, have they enough competence to make the sale.
What is theperception of them about language competence?Thetourism sector has an important role for economy. According to a survey whichis studied by Ç?mat and Bahar (2003) “Tourism sector in Turkey has shown greatprogress since 1980. Contribution of foreign currency while the country washaving economic problems, helped to decrease foreign debt and unemployment. Itwill be possible for Turkey to have a greater share from international tourismsector earnings if more competitive and sustainable policies are implemented inthe future; and this will increase social welfare in the possible shortest period”(1).There are new regulations about tourism in Turkey.
One of them is for northerncity- Ordu. According to the report of TRT (2017) Gündo?du who is a member ofparliament says ” the amount of investments in Ordu has reached the 16,05billion TL for fourteen years. Thoseinvestments have a large scale from the building an airport, blacktop roads,building collective housing, health, agriculture and to the tourism. Thebuilding of the Ordu-Giresun Airport had facilitative affects on Ordu in termsof trade and tourism areas.” When Gündo?du states this information, theinterview of the governor of Ordu, ?rfan Balkanl?o?lu had predicted thisoutcome in 2016 he stated that “Today, Ordu is aroused interest and curiosityby the countries of Middle Eastern and Gulf countries.
Our Arabic visitors whowant to see Blacksea and atmospherics of it will have made their first trip.Ordu-Giresun Airport is the most prestigious project of the Turkey. From theday which this airport was opened to service the flights are arranged to theevery corner of the country. Thanks to this airport on July 19, the firstdirect flight from Riyad – Saudi Arabia will be welcomed as guest. By the forceof the cabinet decision which is about this airport will be border crossing forabroad is accepted. From the now on this airport will be available for theinternational flights. And that will pave the way for the tourism of thisprovince”. At thesame interview, the governor states that Arabic people wish to make investmentsas hotels, malls and tourism investment for this country.
After that he addsthat “at the following season we will welcome not only the tourists andvisitors but also the businessmen who are investors especially from the SaudiArabia. We introduce this country to the tourists and investors. In order toachieve this aim, we welcomed the Arabic Journalists in this country. We havewelcomed them in this country two times. Arabic people explored Ordu with itshighlands, valleys, waterfalls, and sea. We are in an effort to introduce thisregion as we can.
We hope to reach our aim of reaching a million touristscampaign that we started much before.” He gives the promise of the high qualityaccommodation facilities which are required depending on the target of onebillion tourists campaign. Besides the investments and currency income,tourism sector creates the local marketing for the producer and shopkeepers.According to K?z?lgöl and Erbaykal (2008) tourism marketing is a place in whichthe consumers have to go for consuming those touristic products (2). At thatpoint the tourists are in need of communication. With regard to theannouncement of the web- journal Turizm Güncel (2016) a tourist in Trabzon says”we like the folk of this region and we see Trabzon as a destination whichshould live in. We like rain and the fresh air. There are lots of opportunitieswhich are presented by the nature.
There are lots of place to go, and to see.We live at the house in Trabzon for holidays for now, but the years followingwe want to stay here permanently. The folk of this area care about us. Thenumber of the shopkeepers who know foreign or second language is very few. Thatis the only problem which we experienced now. We get along with via the smartphone and body language”. From theaspect of the tourist, it is easy to say that they difficulties to communicatewith people, but there is a question, what about the sales assistants? This problemcould be experienced not only by tourists but also by shopkeepers and thanks tothis by their employees who are sales assistants. So they need another languageto communicate with the language they are most familiar with except theirmother tongue.
But, is the competency level of the language which they arefamiliar with sufficient enough? From this aspect, this study aims at identifyingthe perceptions of sales assistants’ language proficiency. 1.2.Background of the StudyA shopkeeper whohas a shop at a place in tourist attraction wishes to sell their goods to everyclient without making any discrimination.
If their customers speak the samelanguage with them then it is easy to sell their products, but if they do not,they will have struggles to deal with when we take account of they do not knowany foreign language. In that condition they should find another solution todeal. They get help of someone who knows a language which helps to communicatethe client; they can use smart phone applications or body language.
If they donot know any foreign language most likely they choose their employees who knowforeign language. Today, everyone claims at they know foreign language but thelevel of their knowledge is a bemusement. To measure the level of languagecompetence is not possible in every job application, unfortunately. So theemployers have no chance except for believing the words which are told them.
So, do the employees who are sales assistants at those shops find themselvessufficient enough about their foreign language competence? The aim of the studyis to define the sales assistants’ perceptions of their foreign language competenceby making some interviews with the sales assistants in the biggest touristicarea in Ordu. It is important to learn their perceptions of their foreignlanguage competence to increase the contribution to the economy of the countryvia the customers whom tourism provides.Today theforeign language which is mostly used is English. English is used at theinternational relations, because there is needed a “lingua franca”. Theexistence of NATO, UNESCO, and UN requires a communication language. At thescientific, artistic or politic congresses, the participants from all of thecorners of the world need the practicability of an existence of lingua franca(Crystal, 1997- 47,62).
And in local trades which are made with foreign people,English is used as international communicator as being a lingua franca. Todaymany people use English. Although it is difficult to get an accurate number ofEnglish users, a quarter or third of the world’s population, approximately twobillion people, is estimated to speak English in its commercial, cultural, andpolitical exchange (Crystal, 2008). “Thereare approximately 1.6 billion people – nearly one- third of the world’spopulation- who will use English in some form today. Never before in humanhistory has one language been spoken (let alone semi-spoken) so widely and byso many.” (Fishman, 1998-1999,1).
1.3.Statementof the Problem Today, Englishis viewed as a means of intercultural communication, with more non-nativespeakers than native speakers. The global spread of English has been documentedby many scholars throughout the past two decades (Alptekin, 2002, 2007; Brutt-Griffler, 2002; Crystal, 1997, 2004; Graddol, 2006; Holliday, 2005; Honey,1997; Jenkins, 2000, 2006, 2007; B.B.
Kachru, 1982, 2005; Mckay, 2002, 2003a;Phillipson, 1992, 2002, 2003; Seidlhofer, 2001a; Seidlhofer, Breiteneder,&Pitzl, 2006; Widdowson, 1994).It is consultedat large areas with for various purposes from the politic chambers to the localshops. It cannot be denied its power which ties two or more parts at the samepoint. For the formal areas as politic chambers it cannot be thought that thereis a misunderstanding among those world leaders, because if something like thishappens it brings chaos with itself, so the authorities take precautions forpreventing those kinds of problems while the informal areas as shopkeepers atthe local places do not have precautions to defend themselves from the problemswhich causes misunderstanding between them and their clients.
So, what are theconditions for people who work at the local shops in different parts of world?From this pointof view, present study shows those conditions which are experienced by peoplewho work at those local shops, and the search will be carried out in thenorthern side of Turkey. The main point is this kind of a search was not studiedbefore to learn the deficiencies which should be prevented and efficiencieswhich should be developed at this area so that to help to country economy viatourism. As interviews and searches which are made in the tourism show that thebiggest problem which was experienced by the tourists is the communication. So,present study aims at attract attention to the conditions which includecommunication problems which are experienced by sales assistants and people whoemploy them. This thesistopic essential to contribute for sales assistants in terms of their progressin their jobs so especially who want to work in local shops should read and usethis thesis for having an idea what they will come face to face when they are engaged in being sales assistant at alocal shops which attract tourist attention. 1.
4.Purpose of the StudyThe aim of thisstudy is to identify the sales assistants’ perceptions of their foreignlanguage proficiency by making limited participation interviews with the salesassistants in a tourist attraction. It is important that to learn and analyzethe perceptions of sales assistants’ about their foreign language while theyare using to communicate with the customers who are from other countries. Bymaking deductions from the findings it is easy to understand the deficienciesof the sales assistants about their foreign language proficiency. To understandthis helps to find solutions for problems which are experienced by the salesassistants.
And it may cause regulations about this section of tourism sectorwhich helps to develop the economy of a country. 1.5.Research QuestionsThis study willbe investigated the following research questions:1- Arethere specific foreign languages that employees value more than others?2- Whichgeneral language qualities do employees have?3- Whichgeneral language qualities do employees need most? Why? 4- What are the perceptions of employees abouttheir foreign language competence?1.6.Outline and Organization of the Study Chapter One:Introduction in which the aim of study is presented.Chapter Two:This section is about Literature Review.
It includes the Lingua Franca, Whichlanguage is Lingua Franca today, How the English became a Lingua Franca,Trading Skills for Sales Assistants, customer service skills, which languagesale assistants use during the communication with foreign customers, and dothey find their communication skills sufficient enough? Chapter Three:The method of the study introduces the procedures of data collection andanalyses will be introduced. Chapter Four:Discussions in which the study will be summarized and findings will bediscussed.Chapter Five:Conclusion in which the study will be summarized in general and the results ofthe structured interviews will be showed about perceptions of languagecompetence of sales assistants who work at local shops. CHAPTER II: LITERATUREREVIEW2.
1. Introduction The aim of thischapter is to review the literature and research related to employee’sperceptions of their foreign language competence in local shops which areplaced at tourist attractions. Theresults help the progress which is implemented about tourism sector bygovernment via determining the deficiencies and efficiencies.2.
2. English as a Lingua Franca