Business English and
Business as a Discipline?
Practical Aspects for the
Business English course
The context: EFL
Triangulation of sources rather
year Business (11 including 2 specialising
All have taken courses in Economics
Workforce representatives / trainers
Careers Adviser and Placement officer for
Presentation Trainer in Companies
EFL Course Coordinators (3)
Has globalisation affected these three
I think even this word 'globalisation' is meaningless at this point, because
everything is global. (business lecturer)
Well in the world of business today, it's an international world; we live in a
globalisation world. Without English, you are dead.
Not even a topic of discussion
a starting assumption
Global working environment for everyone
Can we differentiate its effect between the disciplines? YES!
English and the Global Work
Need English to be “a player”
The global arena is there for the players who know
the rules of the game, and language is an
essential element of the rules and in the
everyday life of the players.
(Louhiala-Salminen and Rogerson-Revell 2010: 92)
Even greater importance in more senior
Use of English in the Global
Intra-corporate communication conducted in
English – even when workers share same L1
Use of English technical jargon even when
lecture is in first language.
- Comes to mind more naturally than first language
- often no equivalent in first language
Local/ global distinction
The IFRS - it's an international language actually
Adoption of IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards)
– if country wants international investment
-> effect on accounting profession
GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) -> IFRS
IFRS- free access (need to register) http://www.ifrs.org/IFRSs/IFRS.htm
What is a discipline?
… identified by a broadly agreed set of
common public goals (Swales 1990: 24)
…human institutions that reflect diverse ways
of constructing knowledge
Communication practices are not uniform
across academic disciplines
Boundaries? Differences between
Can we call Business a DISCIPLINE?
Divisions/specialisations/ sub-sets of
How is Economics related?
You can know economics without knowing finance or
accounting, but there is no way you can learn
accounting and finance without knowing economics
Gross National Product (GNP(
In tertiary level Economics textbook
Theoretical treatment of the concept, GNP
– emphasising the numerical calculation
In tertiary level Business textbook
Practical application to assist in
understanding the concept
Working with numbers-< ?
The linguistic level required for students was lowest in finance
and accounting since students in these sub-disciplines
devoted more time to working with numbers and equations.
(Jackson 2005: 298)
Is this true today?
Accounting is mostly about numbers; there are accountants that
all they do is crunch numbers – for that they don't need
English, but like in many other professions, the more senior
you become, the more you need English. (accounting lecturer)
The Financial Statement Analysis … you take a company and
you analyse it, and you have the numbers, but the question is
– what do those numbers mean? (accounting
for the English course
- how specialised?
In accounting … it's a language…for instance, you
have to know what …is long-term debt … etcetera. So these
are more of the technical terms that they have to know, on top
of the finance kind of terms like present value concepts
etcetera. So the accountant has additional needs, in the sense
that he has to know the accounts name, and the explanations
for the financial statements etcetera.
Accounting is a language of its own, ok? It's got only two
verbs – debit and credit – and it's got some nouns… and that's
it …economics and business is not like that. Economics and
business is a regular language that you use.
(a different accounting lecturer)
Should English for Accountant
course be technical?
I would say accountants…focus on the numbers
without understanding the story behind the
numbers. Every number has a story – tell the story
behind the numbers or make numbers come to
life…Accountants think that once I've got my
numbers right, that's enough.
Not just the “what”, but also the “how"
What constitutes Business
Not just “a list of specialized lexical,
syntactic, and discoursal features …
it has its own subject matter,
interpersonal relations, choice of
media and channels of
communication, and patterns of
TASKS - Project
COMMON CORE +
Not just what ->
what does it mean?
How specific should we be?
Ideal world …
Interdisciplinary nature of academic
studies and professional lives
Bhatia, V. (1999), 'Disciplinary Variation in Business English'. In M.
Hewings and C. Nickerson (eds), Business English: Research into
Practice. Harlow: Pearson.
Hyland, K. (2006), English for Academic Purposes: An Advanced
Resource Book. Oxon: Routledge Applied Linguistics.
Jackson, J. (2005), 'An Inter-University, Cross-Disciplinary Analysis of
Business Education: Perceptions of Business Faculty in Hong Kong'.
English for Specific Purposes, 24, 293-306.
Louhiala-Salminen, L. and Rogerson-Revell, P. (2010), 'Language Matters:
An Introduction’ (editorial) Journal of Business Communication, 47 (2),
Swales, J. (1990), Genre Analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University
Zhang, Z. (2007), 'Towards an Integrated Approach to Teaching Business
English: A Chinese Experience'. English for Specific Purposes, 26, 399-