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From university to workplace: a contrastive analysis of business writing in Vietnam
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posted on 09.02.2017by Nguyen, Thi Hong Hai
With globalisation, the importance of English as an international language in business communication has meant business people need high standards of communicative competence in both spoken and written English. Business letters involve knowledge of the rhetorical features of the genre and of the sociocultural characteristics of the audience.
This study uses contrastive rhetoric analysis to investigate the business letter writing of Vietnamese EFL students in relation to letters by business professionals from various cultural backgrounds using lingua franca English. The aims of the study were to compare and contrast these two corpora, and to investigate the implications for business education in Vietnam. A qualitative case study approach using text analysis and in-depth interviews was used to collect and interpret data. Data included 46 letters written by business professionals in Vietnam, 40 letters written by business students at a Vietnamese university and interviews with 10 students, 3 teachers and 10 business professionals. The text analysis identified the rhetorical strategies used in the two corpora based on a move structure framework. Critical discourse analysis was used for interpretation of the interview data, which concentrated on the issues and problems related to rhetorical strategies in writing in university and workplace domains.
The findings of the study show that, compared with business persons, students used a more rigid writing style with similar discourse patterns and inflexible positioning of phrases and structures. They tended to rely on writing rules and formulas, as well as their own cultural perspectives in composing texts. This was partly due to the explicit nature of classroom instruction, a lack of authentic practice, minimal feedback, and limited exposure to authentic models of business writing. The study’s exploration of sociocultural aspects in English L2 writing in business contexts contributes knowledge to the area of contrastive rhetoric through both its findings and their pedagogical implications. It also builds on the theory of intercultural business communication, demonstrating synergies of culture, business, and communication skills. Finally, it suggests ways to link the teaching of business writing to real world contexts.