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Exploring business English
Transcript of Exploring business English
Business English characteristics
Exploring Business English
"materials-led rather than research-led"
business of English"
the "discussed about" problem
"Sometimes you have no other source of information. You always go back to the project folder and look at the powerpoint."
Winding up a conference call
David (Chinese Shanghai), Hans (German Berlin), John (Chinese Hong Kong)
Hans: All fine with me
David: Ok so er do you remember the date that I told you about the … meeting ?
Hans: Yes yes
David: About the meeting day and the question after day
Hans: Ok we have all those yeah
David: Even in case some urgent questions I will contact you two or send an email to you two alright?
David: Any other requirement or good suggestion for me?
John: Er yes because very big Chinese festival coming soon we call Dragon boat festival or so I would like to wish all of you enjoy the festival not eat too many dumplings
(A is project leader, B is new team member)
A: Right and I hear you 100%. I guess I’m asking erm what I’m asking erm I’m assuming you have a strong opinion and that’s why we’re asking you erm of course there’s lots of things going on.
B: Yes yes. And I think someone has to make the overall decision. There has to be one person who says ok let’s run with this.
A: So what do you think are some other types of challenges on this type of project erm this type of project team?
B: Well I think …
A: With lots of decision makers lots of people with their input coming in?
B: I think it’s the game we’re in.
B: Right, so ...
A: So I’m assuming you don’t know a whole bunch about us? Or do you know some things?
B: Well I I I I erm learned a little years ago on another project erm very similar. But I know things have changed since then so erm I’m not in touch with erm I do know some of the people who worked with you erm that’s about it. You’ll have to brief me.
A: Yeah ok and that’ll be the kind of key getting up to speed stuff. Erm so in terms of other projects you’re working on now? Do you foresee any kind of conflicts?
Meeting to discuss a new customer
A: Yes so this is what it’s like this is what they want us to produce. Blah blah blah so in order to get any sort of currency with them I sort of put myself through the grinder I had to do all the background research and erm go and find out all the information erm I’m getting good feedback they’re actually saying you know this is very new very different but we trust you so … and it’s not quite clear yet with John just how much work there’s going to be, or how erm
B: He doesn’t know either. He’s just like you and me.
A: Exactly, so …
B: Yeah nobody knows. Nobody knows basically nobody knows at all. You know?
A: Yeah it’s a bit of a worry.
B: We’ll see. I’m enjoying it, and every day is another step forward. We’re so committed I can’t see them pulling out now.
work-related as well as social-personal
multilingual / multicultural
not everyone is a competent user
discussing and evaluating
procedural and directive discourse briefing
(Koester, 2010, p. 24-25)
fluidity vs stability
"ever-changing and may be manipulated by their participants"
"typical verbalisation patterns"
" Someone participating in a genre who does not have a command of these specific patterns and the limits to their possible variability is quickly recognized as either incompetent or an outsider" (Flowerdew, 2011, p. 124)
Training & consulting
Train the trainer
mechanisms of intercommunication
"A class of communicative events"
(Swales, 1990, p. 58)
template or original writing?
telephone calls / meetings
"BELF communication is seen as content-oriented (rather than focusing on form) and requiring domain specific knowledge."
(Jenkins, Cogo & Dewey, 2011, p. 298)
Community of practice
A community of practice is an aggregate of people who come together around mutual engagement in an endeavour ... practices emerge in the course of this mutual endeavour."
(Eckert & McConnell-Ginet, 1992, p. 464)
(Chan & Frendo, 2014)
Language use in a conventionalised communicative setting
in order to give expression to a specific set of communicative goals of a disciplinary or social institution,
which gives rise to stable structural forms by imposing constraints on the use of lexico-grammatical as well as discoursal resources.
Composition of business sub-corpus
Job and placement interviews
Presentations and Q&A sessions
Informal office talk
Announcements and Q&A sessions
Conference calls/ video conferencing
Workplace telephone talk
produced for a mass audience (pre-experience + in-company)
often focus on the language of talking "about" business rather than the language of "doing" business
content often based on intuition not evidence
often quite old fashioned - eg treatment of conditionals / will and going to etc
ability to do the job
dealing with "general" tasks / situations
hardcore training - very focused
Business English is about
imitating the "native speaker"
compared to a "standard"
For a copy of this presentation please visit my blog
"the notion of "Business English" has been adopted in local contexts to reflect often very different local circumstances"
(Bargiela-Chiappini & Zhang, 2013)
"Business English ... is often a mix of specific content (relating to a particular job area or industry), and general content (relating to general ability to communicate more effectively, albeit in business situations)"
(Ellis & Johnson, 1994, p. 3)
Foreign language (EFL)
Lingua franca (ELF)
integration, membership in
ad hoc, negotiated
communication in a NNS or mixed NNS-NS interaction
(Seidlhofer, 2011, p. 18)
University of International Business and Economics (Beijing) - BA in Business English
three core components:
knowledge of business disciplines
(Bargiela-Chiappini & Zhang, 2013, p. 202)
David: Ah yeah yeah yeah
Hans: (laughs) It’s not so much of a problem for me John here where I am
David: Ok any other points? After work, for travel or somewhere else? Hans Hans?
Hans: Er no I’m ok er I’m very happy on my last day when I’m free I have one extra day maybe I can I go into town and look at the city centre again it was so wonderful last year David the old city the old city you know?
David: Yeah last year we saw that show right?
Hans: I only have one spare day. So I am happy to do the city this time
David: Ok Ok, this time you want to er do some travel in the city?
Hans: Yea do some I can be a tourist
David: The old city right?
Hans: The old city the erm the erm yeah basically what we did last year there’s a lot to see and do
David: Also the old city has been rebuilding
Hans: Ah ok
David: So we can we can both visit the old city
Hans: (1) Right (2)
David: So just completed some time so the whole old city so we can do I can show you
David: Also er during the time we we can go somewhere
Hans: Yep of course
David: Right. So that’s why if you can tell me I can do some plan make a plan earlier
David: Thank you you two very much for great support
John: Actually the least we can do the least we can do
David: So John have a nice holiday
David: I will send you each of you information right
Hans: Ok (2) so John I er give our regards to Sam
David: Bye bye thank you thank you bye bye
John: Ok bye bye
Hans: Thank you
David: Thank you Hans
Hans: Bye John bye
"ELF in business contexts in reliant on the business context for its interpretation, and the users themselves are also evaluated on their business acumen first, followed by their language proficiency."
(Nickerson, 2013, p. 450)
"any use of English among speakers of different first languages for whom English is the communicative medium of choice, and often the only option."
(Seidlhofer, 2011, p. 7)
“conformity with standard English is seen as a fairly irrelevant concept”
(Ehrenreich, 2010, p. 418)
"reliance on materials writer's intuition about, or "informed understanding" of, business communication"
"... it is quite disconcerting that shortcomings pointed out in the literature as early as the 1980s should continue to be propogated by influential publications exported all over the world."
(Bargiela-Chiappini & Zhang, 2013, p. 197)
Teachers need to become more aware - less intuition, more evidence
Publishing is a compromise
formal (lockstep) courses
mass produced course books
reliance on the (untrained) teacher
Time to move away?
More emphasis on?
"shared repertoire" (Wenger, 1998)
"Such a detailed product workshop presentation is something desired by the team members. It's not a sales presentation where you have only a few texts erm more pictures."
Insider perspective on presentations genre
"As mentioned this presentation sometimes also works as a project document so it has to be a bit in detail ... this document will also be used by the team members in the future to look at the details they need."
(Chan & Frendo, 2014)