Conclusion

In this chapter, I have been unable to provide a comprehensive overview of the whole spectrum of learning and teaching foreign (specialised/business) languages, far less to mention specific guidelines for the development of curricula or teaching materials and their practical implementation. Nonetheless, I have attempted to highlight certain important facets of current discussion. These include:

  • - the tension between specialist knowledge and language skills;
  • - the tension between formal language skills and the ability to communicate successfully in business contexts;
  • - the difference between “general” and “specific*' business language skills;
  • - the role of language teachers who possess less specialist knowledge than their students;
  • - the role of English and other business languages;
  • - the different attitudes towards norms and linguistic “correctness” in business communication.

To conclude I wish to emphasise a core term in language learning research and Applied Linguistics. That is language awareness (in this context, particularly as “language learning awareness” or “foreign business language awareness”/“foreign business communication awareness”). It points to the idea that learners - especially more advanced learners or mature students - should not simply be exposed to foreign languages or specialised language as such. They should also be offered access to a degree of meta-knowledge about the opportunities that their foreign language learning offers, and the hurdles or limits that they may encounter. And they should not only learn basic communication skills, but also be led towards an understanding of such questions as where partial skills can be an advantage and where they still remain an obstacle.

After all, providing a foundation for “lifelong learning” is one of the aims of teaching foreign (business) languages. Current and future “language (learner) needs” can only be determined with any degree of realism if learners manage to overcome out-dated “folk beliefs” (e.g., “Above all, I need perfect knowledge of terminology and good pronunciation.”). Instead, they should become aware of the complexities of communicating in a foreign language in professional contexts. For example, “language needs” can differ from situation to situation, and from conversation partner to conversation partner, and “research” offers contradictory opinions on some (or maybe all) topics. I will end with a comment that is also the closing point for Martinez (2014) - and with it, the edited volume Blanchet and Chardenet (2014): “Eureka - j’ai trouve - ne se dit gudre en langue didactique.” [Eureka - I have found [the definitive answer/approach/method] - is almost never pronounced in the language of didactics.]

 
Source
< Prev   CONTENTS   Source   Next >