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Learning Power and Politeness in International Business Communications: A reflective approach to researching learning and teaching in English for specific purposes (ESP) within a community learning environment and with particular reference to the language of respect

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-23, 18:17 authored by Kebble, P, Rose KlingRose Kling

Learning and language are inexorably linked and, for students whose first language is different to that spoken in the learning environment, may find they are studying both a new language as well as learning content. To perform, students need functional language skills in the new language, including grammar, pronunciation and vocabulary, and knowledge of context-specific terms. Of importance in these learning environments, are sociolinguistic systems of politeness and power, often reflected through persuasive, confident, powerful or submissive verbal and non-verbal communication in both teaching and learning communication.

Methodologies designed to aid learning through context-awareness and interactive strategies for teaching English for Specific Purposes (ESP) are applicable, but these practices still place significant weight on language skills, knowledge of context-specific vocabulary, and social language skills. Educators, therefore, need to be not only content experts, but for students with English as a second language (ESL), also language teachers. Vitally important in any teaching environment, but more so with the teaching of English for Specific Purposes, educators must hold communicative competence to be effective in conveying meaning and to externalise linguistic knowledge suitable for their particular audiences (Widdowson, 2009). Communicative competence in this circumstance goes beyond the linguistic proficiency, and must include high level nonverbal and body language skills, especially in an international business setting.

It is proposed that a methodological approach for teaching ESP, which is somewhat based on the CLT Model (Communicative Language Teaching, Nunan, 2013) but which also makes use of first language acquisition systems, language influenced by community, realistic and topic specific language with fewer rule-based constraints, and less reliance upon etymological processes, may enhance the opportunities for students to acquire language competence. Included in this proposed methodology are social functions of language, designed to assist students in the development of identity within the new language and to support learning through language inclusivity.

Using an action research process, it is proposed to trial the methodology with international master’s degree students, and it is anticipated that the results will be of interest to a range of practitioners within the ESP, ESL and a variety of education domains.


Publication title

WEI International Academic Conference Proceedings


West East Institute






Faculty of Education


West East Institute

Place of publication


Event title

WEI International Academic Conference on Business and Economics

Event Venue

Vienna University

Date of Event (Start Date)


Date of Event (End Date)


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  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Business ethics

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