the international language association

Rob Williams

Being virtually intercultural in the workplace

Former chair of the ICC, Rob Williams has over 30 years experience in language education as a teacher, teacher trainer, materials writer, assessor and consultant. He also trained as a conference interpreter and for the past 15 years has been involved in teaching intercultural communication directly in company and within trainer training. He is currently a principal lecturer in the department of Modern Languages and Cultures at the University of Westminster, where he teaches on the MA TESOL (leading modules on Testing and Materials Development) and is course leader for the MA International Liaison and Communication, a pioneering course, training people to be the bridge across communities and between language groupings.


Rob has a wide experience in teaching English for business. He taught executives in small groups and on a one to one basis (companies included Kingfisher, Shell, London Stock Exchange). He worked with engineers and commercial sector employees from Siemens, and he was the academic manager of pre-sessional MBA and MSc Finance Programmes at City University, London. This experience has extended into the field of intercultural communication, working with multicultural teams and preparing employees for placements in different countries (companies included Rolls Royce, CORUS, Reckitt Benkiser and Barclays)

As a materials designer, Rob has published both general and specific purpose course books as well as being heavily involved in creating and improving courses for agencies where he worked. In his time at City University, Rob wrote the pre-sessional courses for the MBA and MSc Finance programmes in general finance, shipping and real estate management. At Siemens, he rewrote the in house programme for engineers and designed a four level course for call centre operatives.

Through the ICC and the University of Westminster, Rob has been involved in many EU co-funded development projects. He was an external commentator for the PELLIC project (providing English Language in the context of practice enterprises), contributed to the design of materials for Chinese 4 EU (providing instruction in Chinese through virtual platforms) and was a trainer on the Diverse European Workplace project (providing intercultural communication training in the workplace). He was a lead materials developer for Linguapeace and Linguapeace Europe (producing two books training English for peacekeepers) and led the PICT project promoting intercultural communication in translators. He is currently the internal quality assurance member for CoMoViWo – a project designing intercultural communication training material in English and Spanish, with a specific focus on e-communication.

He chairs an annual Intercultural Masterclass through UK Trade and Industry and regularly speaks at conferences across Europe and beyond. In his teaching, Rob has frequently worked with students, employees and executives who have been called upon to perform in situations where they have not had sufficient language competence to do so. This and the intercultural and non-verbal causes of misunderstandings form the core of his research interest.

Rob is a passionate believer in the need for improved communication as a means to greater social understanding, and feels that maintaining high quality language instruction combined with intercultural competence goes a long way to achieving this.

Away from languages Rob teaches singing for the terrified and writes and records music – some of which has appeared in educational publications and at conferences.


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