Some skills are easily measurable. For example, students can easily prove whether they know what an amoeba is simply by providing a definition. But other skills are harder to measure and more difficult to teach and learn. These skills are called soft skills. Unfortunately, soft skills are the most important skills that students can learn because people cannot succeed in many endeavors without these skills.
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Foreign languages are one example of a soft skill. Many schools offer foreign language courses to students, allowing them to choose from one or more languages. In addition, many universities require students take foreign language courses. Learning a foreign language allows students to work for businesses and governmental agencies that do business with people of other nations and cultures.
Employers need employees with cultural sensitivity. Customers often come from a broad range of cultural backgrounds. In addition, employees sometimes need to work with individuals from other countries or design products for foreign markets. Students can develop greater cultural awareness by studying literature, foreign languages, anthropology and other subjects that increase awareness of foreign cultures.
Many businesses require their workers to operate in teams when completing projects and solving problems. Schools try to prepare students for teamwork by having students complete projects in groups, giving a grade to the entire group instead of each individual student. While working in groups, students develop the social skills needed to work together efficiently. They also learn conflict management and negotiation skills.
Persuasiveness is a skill that students must master to effectively sell products. Some employers recommend that students study rhetoric to learn how to make compelling arguments. However, employers often need students to make emotional arguments to consumers, while schools usually focus on intellectual arguments.
Employers want workers with excellent time management skills so they can complete multiple tasks in an efficient manner. The rigors of college courses in general force students to develop time management skills to successfully complete all assignments while earning good grades.
Students can develop interpersonal skills like empathy by socializing with other students and with educators. Joining clubs and organizations gives students more opportunities to socialize. They can also learn more about human nature and develop greater empathy for the people they communicate with by taking psychology courses.
More than anything else, businesses want workers who can communicate effectively. Employees must be able to communicate clearly one-on-one, write clearly and present information to a group. Many classes ask students to present information in front of the class, and communication classes focus very heavily on delivering speeches. Writing courses help students develop clearer writing. Educators can further facilitate the development of oral communication skills by having class discussions and giving students feedback on their clarity. Educators can even simulate workplace communication through role playing. However, role playing can never perfectly simulate the workplace experience.
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