Teaching English as a Lingua Franca in International Business: A Case Study

Victoria Rau ; Gerald Rau

Taiwan International ESP Journal ; 10卷2期(2019/07/01),P1-17

DOI: 10.6706/TIESPJ.201907_10(2).0001

The internationalization of business has caused many local companies in Taiwan to adopt English as a lingua franca (ELF). When a Taiwanese metal fabrication business was purchased by a U.S.-based multinational conglomerate, the managers needed to quickly improve their English skills so they could communicate with their foreign bosses and co-workers. When the authors were called upon to serve as ELF trainers for 10 managers in fall 2013, we simultaneously conducted action research to explore best practices.

This case study aims to (1) identify some issues of intercultural communication in international business, and (2) present pedagogical implications for teaching ELF in a business setting. Data were collected from personal stories told by the managers and correspondence they shared, which were transcribed and edited to serve as the main teaching materials for the class, allowing us to identify important areas of language and culture difference. Using actual workplace communication and stories about workplace issues proved to be a very useful pedagogical approach, allowing discussion of both English problems and cultural differences that had caused misunderstanding. 

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