|dc.description.abstract||The changing role of English as a lingua franca (ELF) has triggered a debate on whether or not English teaching should conform consistently to native-speaker Standard English or should it value the pedagogical implications of ELF. This study investigates the implementation of China’s Business English Program from an ELF perspective and explores the practicality of incorporating ELF-informed teaching in context by comparing what is being taught in the classroom with what is being used in the workplace. The comparison is made through the key concepts involved in the debate over the practicality of ELF-informed teaching, such as language ownership, linguistic and cultural diversity, language authority and authenticity.
This study used an in-depth, inquiry-based case study research approach to investigate the cases of two Business English Programs. The sources of evidence include curriculum documents, coursebook analysis, classroom observations, questionnaires and interviews. The evidence was obtained through a three-phase inquiry using both quantitative and qualitative data collection methods. Phase 1 involved a content analysis of three curriculum documents, including the National Principles of Teaching Quality for Undergraduate Business English Majors (The National Principles of BE) and the two institutional curricula. Phase 2 started with an analysis of business English coursebooks followed by a series of classroom observations. This phase of enquiry along with document analyses at phase 1 provide substantial evidence regarding what ‘English’ is being taught - an ENL variety through an ‘monolithic’ approach or ELF through a ‘pluricentric’ approach. Phase 3 investigated stakeholders’ (teachers, learners, graduates) attitudes and perceptions towards native-speaker Standard English and ENL-based teaching, ELF and ELF-informed teaching.
The findings revealed that the curriculum documents do not indicate a preference for native-speaker Standard English, ELF or Chinese-English. However, the coursebooks analysed in this study suggested a strong orientation towards native-speaker Standard English, its users and cultures and also, a lack of real-life ELF scenarios. This lack of ELF scenarios was not addressed in the use of the coursebooks as evidenced in the classroom observations. While the concept of English as a lingua franca was understood and discussed, how English is actually used as a lingua franca was not exemplified or analysed. In addition, teachers, learners and graduates have different perceptions towards what should be taught in classroom. The interviews with business English teachers indicate one main conflict and three subsidiary conflicts regarding the practicality of ELF-informed teaching in the Business English Program. The main conflict is between teachers’ general awareness of ELF and their preference for ENL-based teaching. The three subsidiary conflicts are between: 1) learning ENL and teaching ELF; 2) English for test and English for use; and 3) intervention and innovation. Meanwhile, learners’ perceptions towards what should be taught in classroom were found to be influenced by three factors: 1) the communicative effectiveness of the ‘English’; 2) the social value of the ‘English’; and 3) the applicability of ‘English’ in China’s higher education system. Different from business English teachers and learners, graduates expressed more positive attitudes towards ELF and called for an inclusion of real-life ELF scenarios, an introduction of EMI business courses, and classroom practices that encourage bi/multilingualism.
In the light of the above findings, the gaps between what is being taught in the classroom and what is being used in the workplace were summarized. Also, a total of seven factors at individual, institutional, and socio-cultural levels were identified as the most prominent barriers to the effective implementation of ELF-informed teaching in the Business English Program. These barriers formed the basis of the ultimate proposal for an evaluative framework that conceptualizes the most prominent components needed for consideration by a local institution in order to explore the practicality of ELF-informed teaching. The framework could be used to detect, discuss, and defeat the barriers impeding its effective implementation of ELF-informed teaching.
Overall, by unveiling a dynamic interplay of policy, contexts, and stakeholders in the implementation of Business English Program, the findings from the present study are of empirical and practical value to those involved or interested in the fields of English language policy, English language teaching in China, and ELF. This study makes original contributions to the literature through illuminating: a) the extent to which ELF-informed teaching is implemented in China’s Business English Program; b) the existing and potential barriers impeding the effective implementation of ELF-informed teaching; c) the gaps between what is taught in business English classrooms and what is used in workplace; and d) key elements to assist Business English Programs in overcoming these barriers and bridging the gaps. In addition, with a specific focus on China’s Business English Program, this study enriches the literature on stakeholders’ perceptions on ELF and the implementation of ELF-informed teaching in the countries in the Expanding Circle and thus, adds empirical evidence into the debate over the practicality of ELF-informed teaching in these contexts.||